The importance of underlay

The importance of underlay

“Underlay” may sound boring but it’s incredibly useful!

Do I really need new underlay when I’m buying a new carpet?

The simple answer is yes – and here’s why.

In the olden days newspaper was used as underlay!  Which certainly indicates that its usefulness has long been well known.

And although it may seem wasteful to spend money on something you don’t even see, in fact the underlay is just as important as the carpet, and carpet fitting should never be carried out without an underlay first – the only exception is if the carpet you choose already has a really thick backing.  But that’s exceptionally thick, which very few are.

In fact the quality of the underlay is really as important as that of the carpet itself and for plenty of good reasons. .

Above all, underlay helps your carpet last longer

Your carpet’s underlay helps to protect your carpet against the inevitable wear and tear that comes with time,  which helps your carpet to last longer.  Which will potentially repay your investment in it, well before any other factors are considered!

Underlay helps minimise noiseUnderlay helps to insulate your home

Carpet underlay can help to reduce heat loss.  So another part of the investment is repaid by the saving in energy bills and actually keeping the room warmer – and feeling cosier.

Underlay helps to reduce noise – and stress levels too!

The thickness of the underlay will determine the amount of noise reduction it can provide.  But any underlay should to some extent help to reduce noise, for example of heavy footsteps or furniture being moved.  There’s enough noise everywhere else, minimising it where we can definitely helps minimise stress levels too!

Underlay helps to minimise marks and dents – pristine carpet for longer

You’ll probably have noticed how heavy furniture can leave marks on soft carpets which don’t disappear once the furniture is moved.  However a good underlay will cushion that same soft carpet and minimise both the likelihood and the seriousness of indentation marks.  Which of course will help keep your carpet looking at its best.  Which will increase your enjoyment of it too!

Underlay provides extra comfortUnderlay helps insulate your home

The extra layer of padding makes for a more comfortable and cosy carpet underfoot, which is something you’ll appreciate daily.  for the whole of the life of the carpet

How do I know which underlay I need?

So now you understand why you need to have carpet underlay, let’s take a look at which will be best for your carpet.

Soft or firm?

Depending on which room in the house the carpet is intended for will depend on which underlay is best to use.  For instance, if you are laying carpet over a hard floor which will receive a lot of foot traffic, such as the living room, then a firmer underlay will be the best option and offer the most protection. Whereas, a bedroom which receives less footfall will be happier with a soft underlay which will also provide greater softness underfoot.


Traditional felt underlay is not as easily obtainable as it used to be, but still remains the most hardwearing underlay available.  It is also the most environmentally friendly, often made from recycled fibre too.


Rubber is a tough underlay so it’s ideal for commercial use and also for the heavy foot traffic areas in the house. It is available as “waffle” rubber and “crumb” rubber.

Most modern carpet underlays have tog ratings to help customers gauge their thickness. Similar to duvets, the tog rating will indicate the thermal insulation too.

How to fit a new underlay and carpet

For the best results a new and firm underlay should be laid on a clean dry floor. It should be fixed by tacks or tape, with joins butted together. This will stop movement of the underlay when the carpet is laid. The carpet should be stretched evenly and held on a carpet gripper which has been pre-nailed to the perimeter of the room. This will help the pile of the carpet to sit upright, giving the best resilience to foot traffic – and also helps to reduce the wear of your carpet.

But we’ll take care of all that for you of course – just come in and have a chat with Alan Mon-Fri 9am – 4pm, or email

Mabel will normally be here to greet you as well – and with water bowl at the ready will also greet any canine companions of yours!

PS  For more information about underlay Alan recommends looking at the websites of Ball and Young and Interfloor.


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