Whether you’re having your home’s carpet reinstalled or having it installed for the first time, one of the most important decisions you’re going to have to make is what kind of underlay for carpet to go for.
While you’d be forgiven for thinking that once you’ve selected your carpet then the decisions are over, you’d be mistaken.
A carpet underlay is a fundamental part of every carpet installation, so selecting the right kind is vital.
But with so many different underlay options available, it can be difficult to know which type is most suitable for your home.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the question of ‘which is the best carpet underlay?’ outlining all of the various choices so you can make an informed decision on what is best for you.
Read on to find out more.
What Is A Carpet Underlay?
While you will most likely be well aware of carpet and the practical and aesthetic benefits it can provide a property, you may be less familiar with what a carpet underlay is.
In short, a carpet underlay is a layer of material that sits between the subfloor and the carpet you’re having installed. The subfloor is normally made from wood, concrete or another type of composite material. In some cases it might be possible to install carpet directly on the subfloor, however, this is far more complex and requires specialist skills. Plus, it can leave you with uneven flooring.
No matter what type of subfloor you have in place, the underlay will act as a shock absorber, can enhance insulation and provide a number of other great benefits that we will go into detail in the section below.
The Benefits Of Carpet Underlay
Carpet underlay, also known as carpet padding or carpet cushioning, is a layer of material that is placed beneath a carpet to provide it with support. This is not the only benefit they provide, and the numerous advantages of carpet underlay include the following:
- Comfort – Undoubtedly the primary benefit of a carpet underlay is the additional comfort it provides underfoot. It acts as a cushion, making the carpet even more comfortable to walk or stand. This is particularly important in areas where people spend a lot of time like living and bedrooms.
- Insulation – As mentioned previously, carpet underlay offers enhanced thermal insulation that can keep a room warmer. This can contribute to energy efficiency by helping to maintain a more constant indoor temperature and even lower utility bills.
- Sound absorption – Carpet underlay can help reduce noise by absorbing sound. It minimises impact noise, such as footsteps, as well as muffle airborne sounds. This is beneficial to residential settings as it creates a quieter and more peaceful environment to live in.
- Enhanced longevity – By absorbing the impact of foot traffic, carpet underlay helps to protect the carpet itself and extend its lifespan. It can also help to reduce wear and tear on the carpet fibres, extending the life of the carpet and preserving its appearance.
- Easier installation – Having carpet underlay in place can actually aid in the installation of the carpet itself. It provides a stable and even surface for the carpet to be laid on, making it easier for installers to achieve a professional and long-lasting result.
It’s worth noting that the specific benefits can vary depending on the type of underlay used as well as its quality. When selecting the best carpet underlay, it’s advisable to consider the type of carpet being installed, the intended use of the space as well as your own personal preferences.
The Different Types Of Carpet Underlay
There are all sorts of different carpet underlays available, so identifying what could be the best type for you can be tricky.
The best underlay for carpet depends on a number of factors including the material of your subfloor.
Let’s take a look at the various options available as well as their pros and cons.
Polyurethane foam, or PU foam, is one of the most environmentally friendly underlay options on the market. Made completely from recycled materials, it’s an extremely lightweight solution which is durable and offers wonderful household insulation.
It’s a particularly good choice for DIYers who are looking to install underlay themselves as it can be easily moved around.
A sponge rubber carpet underlay offers the best of both worlds, with unrivalled comfort and excellent durability. The product is made from synthetic rubber which means comfort and durability can last for years and years.
Plus, it’s very flexible so it feels bouncy as you walk across a room adding to comfort levels.
Another eco-option, crumb rubber is made from recycled car tyres and is well known for its durability and sound reduction properties.
As it’s made from lots of crumbs of recycled rubber (hence the name) it’s not quite as spongy or comfortable underfoot, but instead, it comes into its own in terms of durability. This means that it’s favoured in heavy traffic areas like staircases.
Furthermore, it’s less likely to suffer from carpet indents caused by furniture when compared with other underlays.
Felt/crumb Rubber Combination
If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, then a felt and crumb rubber hybrid mix may be the way to go. It brings together the two main advantages of both materials, the warmth and comfort of felt and the durability and sound reduction properties of crumb rubber.
What Is The Best Underlay For Carpet?
Now that we’ve outlined the different types of carpet underlay available, let’s look at the factors you might consider when selecting one.
While we’ve already discussed the various properties that the different types of underlay offers, it’s likely there will also be a number of individual elements that are specific to you that will inform your decision.
Let’s take a look at some of these things below.
Best For Budget
For many people, budget is likely to influence their purchasing decisions. If you’re someone who needs to be a bit more cautious when splashing out on a carpet underlay, it doesn’t mean you need to compromise on quality.
In fact, there are a number of cost-effective options that can perform extremely highly.
The Tredaire Brio underlay is a PU foam product that provides a density of
109 kg/m³ that provides it with fantastic longevity. Plus, it’s extremely spongy underfoot so it’s a popular choice for those shopping on a budget.
Best For Luxury
If budget isn’t such a concern and you’d prefer to opt for something a bit more luxurious, then there are a number of options you can choose from.
Remember, just because an underlay is more expensive it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is made from more premium materials. Instead, it’s likely that it’s been manufactured for a specific purpose – hence the higher cost.
Wilsons Plushwalk 12mm is a more luxurious option that offers a range of great benefits. It is made from memory foam, a material you may have come across in mattresses. Due to this, it means that it has an ‘improved compression recovery’ of 92% compared to 78% for traditional PU foam options.
What this means in practice is that it is better at bouncing back from heavy loads and foot traffic, meaning there will be no furniture indentations left behind that spoil the appearance of your carpet.
Best For High Traffic
Stairs, hallways and other areas in the home can see a lot of high traffic on a day-to-day basis.
Often, PU foam will be used in these areas as they offer a decent level of durability. However, crumb rubber underlays may be a better choice. This is because they’re often manufactured with durability in mind.
A great crumb rubber underlay option for high-traffic areas is the Tredaire Treadmore carpet underlay. At around 8mm thick, it is suitable for every room of the house and this underlay does not wear out and even offers a lifetime guarantee.
Best For Thermal Retention
Another key advantage of a carpet underlay is that it can aid thermal retention and enhance your home’s insulation options.
In many cases, underlays offer a sense of warmth to a home, something that is especially important during the cold British winters. As well as helping maintain a comfortable temperature on the property, it can even lower utility bills.
If you’re looking for an underlay for insulation purposes, then Tredaire Dreamwalk is a product worth considering.
It has a stunning TOG rating of 3.13, and as well as these thermal properties it is also extremely comfortable underfoot making it suitable for living rooms and bedrooms.
You should never neglect your carpet underlay, and by reading the information above and considering your unique specifications and preferences you can rest assured that you’ll be able to find the best carpet underlay for your home. If you’re on the lookout for DIY advice, home improvement tips or any other kind of household guides take a look across our website at our wide range of blogs and articles.