Most carpets on sale these days either must have, or would at least benefit from, some type of carpet underlay. The correct type of carpet underlay for your carpet will extend the life of your carpet, whilst also making it quieter to walk on – not to mention being warmer and softer on your feet. Also, let’s not forget, having carpet underlay is another layer of heat insulation in your home, helping you to further reduce those energy bills.
Preparation for Carpet Underlay
Above it, you’re carpet underlay will be in direct contact with your carpet which will, comparatively, be smooth and soft. Underneath it, the carpet underlay will be in direct contact with the material your floor is made of, most likely concrete, stone or timber. None of which are likely to be smooth, or possibly even clean. Which one of this two you do first probably depends on how dirty the floor is, but generally speaking it’s simplest to get the floor level in the first place.
Having a level floor for your carpet underlay is important as otherwise any bumps or dips in it will quickly cause the underlay to wear away, meaning your carpet is in direct contact with the floor – wearing it away in time and reducing the insulating benefits of having the underlay in the first place.
If you have a concrete floor you should be able to even it out with a floor leveling compound from your DIY store, timber floors can probably be smoothed out by using a belt sander, rented from your DIY store whereas a stone floor might need completely re-setting, if there is any serious un-levelness or cracked stone tiles.
If you’re lucky you might get away with using a floor leveling compound on a stone floor. Cleaning up after leveling the floor goes without saying, to reduce dust getting airborne as the carpet underlay and carpet are fitted. Any unsightly or odd stains should also be cleaned up, as you won’t want any unpleasant odors suddenly arising from under the carpet underlay.
Types of Carpet Underlayment
If you have a fiber backed carpet you’ll undoubtedly need a rubber carpet underlay. Rubber carpet underlay has a bubbled profile making it incredibly comfortable and soft underfoot as well as being a great insulator – with all that air trapped in the bubbles. Unfortunately, rubber carpet underlay can wear badly if you haven’t made sure the floor is even and smooth before fitting it, especially near areas of high footfall near doorways.
So another popular carpet underlay is known as crumb rubber underlay. Crumb rubber is flat rather than bubbled meaning it can more closely follow the contours of the floor it lays on. Despite being more durable it doesn’t lose a lot in terms of its comfort or insulating effect, high footfall areas and stairs in particular benefit from this type of underlay.
Wool carpets are particularly warm and comfortable ones; and are therefore usually the most expensive, so you’ll want to protect it as best you can. Using an underlay also made from wool would be extremely warm and luxurious, but rather expensive. However, you can buy eco-friendly wool-felt mixture carpet underlay, made from recycled wool fibers, producing a high degree of comfort and warmth, with durability at a reasonable price.
A less expensive underlay is PU Foam, which is very durable and warm, if not quite up to the comfort standards of the other types of underlay. Finally, for rubber backed carpets, there’s paper underlay; which is really there only to stop the carpet sticking to the floor surface and deteriorating.
See Also: Carpet Installation Tools