Underlay comes in many different materials including rubber, foam and felt; asking yourself when do you need underlay is important because it involves considering your options in relation to the type of floor covering you’ll be using.
The correct underlay will save you money in the long term as it can help to extend the life of your new flooring, but, as with any type of floor covering, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s recommendations, as the cheapest or simplest option is often not the most compatible to ensure maximum comfort, insulation and durability.
Benefits of Underlay
There are several key advantages to using underlay and your own special requirements should be taken into account when selecting the type of material it’s made from. Some of the benefits include:
- Reduces wear on most types of flooring: Underlay provides a much smoother surface for your new flooring to be laid upon and this will ensure a more even wear over a much longer period.
- Provides insulation against sound, moisture, and heat: Regardless of the type of base, underlay provides that invaluable extra protective layer, whilst still allowing air to circulate.
- Comfort underfoot: Underlay, especially ones that have a cushioning effect, provide a luxurious feeling underfoot and are useful for helping to minimise the danger of small children hurting themselves should they take a tumble.
- Cost effectiveness: Without underlay, your flooring will wear much quicker and show indentations from shoes, toys, etc. to a much greater degree. It could prolong the life of, for example a carpet with a normal expectancy of 3-5 years, by as much as 30-50%.
Do You Need Underlay For Vinyl Flooring?
Do you need underlay when buying vinyl flooring? – probably not – so it is especially important to check with the supplier about your particular choice because most types come with a cushioned base layer.
The reason why it can be used without underlay is that the cushioned structure of the material provides all the comfort necessary and the inbuilt friction prevents it from moving around.
In fact, underlay can increase the risk of causing damage, such as dents and punctures, to your vinyl flooring, so it is best avoided unless the manufacturer recommends its use. The cheapest of vinyl may benefit from underlay but it is far better to invest that little bit more in your choice of flooring, as the advantages far outweigh the extra cost.
Vinyl flooring has become increasingly popular over the years because it is quick and easy to install and can be laid directly onto the sub-floor using glue, double-sided tape or even loose.
It’s hard wearing, comfortable underfoot, affordable and easy to maintain, offering many of the advantages of other types of flooring without the additional work and cost of underlay.
Do You Need Underlay For Laminate Flooring?
Most manufacturers will recommend the use of underlay because laminate flooring is generally very thin at around 12mm and, it not only gives extra support, it also helps to pad the flooring out.
This, in turn, will increase the lifespan and provide additional comfort as the sound absorbing qualities and insulation will be greatly increased; it will also help to prevent warping caused by damp. An additional benefit is that it will make the laminate feel and act similar to the considerably more expensive solid wood.
Choose an underlay that provides a barrier to moisture and, if you have underfloor heating, then select the special thermal type which will allow the heat to rise up into the room.
Laminate flooring will not bridge small gaps in an uneven floor, as engineered and solid wood can, so underlay is especially important to create that flat, even surface on which to place the product, helping to avoid damage, marks and dents.
Do You Need Underlay For Carpet?
It should always be used with carpeting but beware of carpets that offer ‘built-in’ underlay as this is generally just a very thin layer of felt which is totally inadequate for the wear and tear you will expect your carpet to withstand.
Carpet underlay comes in various different materials and thicknesses; you should always buy the best that you can afford as the long term benefits far exceed the additional cost. The only exception to using carpet underlay is if you have underfloor heating as it can prevent the heat from rising and circulating, however, there are special thermal products on the market for this purpose.
Carpet underlay will not only extend the life of your new carpet, it will also provide insulation, soundproofing and that luxurious feel as your feet sink down into the pile.
Underlay for carpets comes in several different materials and choice of density, again, depending on price, you should choose the best possible and the most suitable for the carpet that you are buying.
Check the type of fabric that has been used on the underside of the carpet as this will influence the need for and style of carpet underlay that you should buy. For example, if your carpet has a latex or textile backing, then a good quality underlay is necessary to avoid an uneven surface which may damage your carpet over time.
Whatever type of flooring is selected, you should not only be asking, “do you need underlay?”, you should also find out about the different materials available. Choosing the right one is essential in order to achieve the best results.