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Your Ultimate Guide to Buying Carpet Underlay for Your Home!

Your Ultimate Guide to Buying Carpet Underlay for Your Home!

You may consider underlay as an additional purchase option for your home, but the truth is it’s an essential part of ensuring the long life, great feel and exquisite look of your flooring.

And here at Carpet Underlay, as one of the UK’s leading suppliers of underlay we want to ensure that you have all the information you require when choosing the perfect underlay for your home. From understanding just how the right underlay can increase and ensure a luxurious comfort level for your flooring, to how it can prolong the life of your carpet by a much as 30-50%.

Because of all the benefits and diverse range of properties that the various forms of underlay have, it can often be confusing and challenging to decide which is right for your flooring, but not to worry because in this ultimate guide we’ll talk you through the underlay buying process from introducing what exactly underlay is and why you need it, to the various types of underlay available on the market and the benefits they can provide to your home. 

Ready to find the perfect underlay for your home? Then Browse our full collection of carpet and laminate underlay today! 

What is underlay?

Underlay is a layer of insulating material that is placed below your home or business’ carpet, wood or laminate flooring, offering protection and support from your home’s subfloor and foot traffic. Underlay can come in a number of forms, all offering slightly different properties from luxurious comfort to acoustic noise reduction and thermal insulation. 

Why choose underlay for your home?

Most often overlooked or thought of as an additional expense that isn’t really required, underlay is actually an essential and integral part of shaping and protecting your flooring, allowing you to increase comfort and the lifespan of your carpet and laminate while ensuring you get the most from your flooring investment by providing:

  • Cushioning and depth to your carpet.
  • Shock absorption, protecting your flooring from heavy foot traffic and objects.
  • Acoustic barrier, helping to soundproof your flooring.
  • Hypoallergenic properties, reducing dust build up.
  • Insulative layer, helping reduce heat loss from your home, potentially helping you reduce your energy bills. 

Identifying if your flooring requires an underlay

In most cases wood, laminate and vinyl flooring can benefit from the use of underlay, helping to protect the joints in the wood or laminate and reducing the risk of flexing. The same can be said for most carpet types also, with the likes of woven, secondary backed and felt backed carpets all benefiting from the use of carpet underlay, however foam backed carpets don’t require underlay as the foam layer can provide sufficient cushioning, though underlay can still be used with these types of carpets to add further comfort and protection if you so desired it.

Types of underlay

Types of Underlay

Due to the diverse range of flooring options, desirable properties and use of rooms, there is a wide selection of underlay types to investigate when it comes to finding the ideal solution for your flooring.

Carpet underlays are essentially used to act as a shock absorber, helping to protect the carpet from wear, especially in areas of high footfall, and can improve the lifespan of your carpet by anywhere between 30-50%. They work by preventing the carpet pile from flattening, helping your carpet to look better for longer.

So, let’s take a look at the eight most common types of underlay you can use in your home or business:


Felt underlay is a firm underlay type often used in those rooms that receive high foot traffic, it tends not to be used as much in the home these days, with homeowners choosing to use PU and rubber underlays. But due to its good thermal insulation, high acoustic offering and hardwearing properties, it tends to be commonly found in industrial and commercial settings.


Rubber is one of the most aesthetically appealing forms of underlay and comes in both crumb and sponge form.

Crumb Rubber

This form of underlay is extremely dense and durable, produced using a high percentage of recycled materials, most commonly used car tyres, creating a tough and durable crumb rubber underlay which helps to protect the flooring surface, especially against the likes of heavy furniture or high footfall in areas such as halls and stairways.

Sponge Rubber

Considered to be the second most comfortable form of underlay after PU foam, sponge rubber is a long-lasting underlay, which comes in either flat profile sheets or textured waffle form (we’ll look at that in a second), formed using a thick layer of synthetic rubber. Sponge rubber is perfect for areas of high foot traffic while providing great thermal and sound insulation, making it a perfect fit for every room in your home.

Waffle Sponge Rubber

Waffle sponge underlay gets its name from the waffle pattern found on its underside, which creates air pockets, which trap air and reduce the transference of heat and sound, therefore, crafting a seamless insulative layer for your home. This simple design feature also helps to prolong the life of your carpets, adding up to 40% to your flooring’s lifespan, as well as the pockets trapping dust, reducing its movement around the room and helping to create a hypoallergenic environment. 


Timbersafe underlays are perfectly constructed rubber underlays for use with wood and laminate flooring to create a dense and durable solution, which adds stability and insulation to your flooring. Due to the nature of the rubber, the underlay helps to prevent flexing of your wood flooring joints, prolonging the life of both your wood and laminate.

Low Thermal Resistance Underlays

Another rubber underlay design, low thermal resistance underlays, are designed specifically for use with underfloor heating solutions, featuring a low tog rating so as to provide comfort while allowing you to get the most from your underfloor heating solutions. This form of underlay is suitable for both carpets and wooden flooring.

Polyurethane or PU

Considered the softest form of underlay, PU underlay is created using recyclable materials and features a high tog rating, providing greater sound and thermal insulation in addition to its supreme comfort. These properties all make it great for use in rooms such as the bedroom, however, due to its softer nature, it isn’t recommended for use within areas of the home that see a high footfall. 

Underlays for Underfloor heating systems

Tog Ratings – What do they mean?

You probably think of bedding when you hear the term tog rating, but the information is just as important when it comes to choosing the perfect underlay. Underlay tog rating can vary dramatically and is a measure of heat insulation and thickness, making it extremely important to understand if you have an underfloor heating solution installed in your home.   

Lower tog rated underlays are better suited for those homes with underfloor heating and use of underlays reaching up to a maximum tog rating of 2.5 are recommended for such scenarios. Use of higher tog rated underlays will prevent the transfer of heat from your underfloor heating system.

On the other hand, a higher tog rating means better insulation, making them perfect for homes with traditional heating solutions, helping to retain heat and prevent its loss through your home’s subfloor.

Sound Absorption and Insulation

Sound absorption and insulation are sometimes confused, with absorption being when the airborne sound comes into contact with a surface, some of the sounds are reflected back into the room as an echo while some are absorbed by the surface and converted into other forms of energy, mostly heat. Whereas sound insulation is the degree in which a surface reduces the transfer of sound further throughout the room and/or rooms below. All of the underlay we provide here at Carpet Underlay have fantastic sound insulative properties. 

Finding the right underlay

So, when it comes to laying new flooring, you shouldn’t think as underlay as an optional extra but an essential part of your home decorating project, helping to prolong the life of your flooring while making your home more comfortable. And if you’d like help to find the perfect underlay for your home or business then our team are always on hand to provide you with more information on our product range and help you choose the ideal underlay solution for your flooring, so get in touch today!

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  • David Teague