Having an underlayment between the floor covering and the base of the floor – will only enhance the look, feel and durability of a floor covering. In turn, taking the time and care to ensure that the base is flat and clean for the underlayment to sit on – will result in you having an even better floor covering, that will literally last for years.
Ready for the Underlayment?
Regardless what the floor covering you’re going to use is and regardless whether it needs an underlayment or not – ensuring you’ve got a flat and clean base to work on is essential. If your underlayment is to go onto a solid floor base that isn’t level; use a leveling compound to get it nice and flat. If you’ve a timber floor that’s not level – cover it in sheets of plywood that are securely screwed down, through the timber floor’s joists.
Whether you’ve got a solid or timber floor base, remove any old adhesive from previous floor coverings. If not you risk leaving unsightly ridges or bumps that could show through the underlayment to the new floor covering or worse – the underlayment could react with the chemicals in the old adhesive, causing bad odors.
Types of Underlayment for Carpet
Carpet underlayment comes in a variety of lengths, widths, depths and weights according to the degree of comfort and insulation that they offer.
Rubber carpet underlay – is probably the most common type used with fiber backed carpeting. Renowned for giving the best ‘underfoot feel’ due to its ridged and bubbled profile, as well as its high comfort rating it is a highly effective insulator.
Crumb rubber carpet underlay – whilst ordinary rubber carpet underlay is highly popular it is prone to wearing unduly at points of heavy usage, usually near doorways. Crumb rubber underlayment has a flat profile which means it is more durable, without being compromised too much in terms of comfort. This underlayment is recommended for use on stairs in particular.
Wool felt carpet underlayment – a more ‘traditional’ carpet underlayment, with ‘green’ credentials. Made from recycled fibers it is extremely hard wearing, a good insulator and can feel positively luxurious underfoot.
Combination Felt & Wool underlayment – combines the feel of a rubber underlayment with the durability of a wool felt one. This product is made from recycled fibers and recycled crumb rubber.
PU foam underlayment – whilst an excellent insulating underlayment, this products popularity has fallen recently as it involves environmentally damaging chlorofluorocarbons.
Paper underlayment – if the carpet you’re fitting already has a rubber backing to it a paper underlayment is used.
Specialized carpet underlayment’s are available to suit floor bases with an under-floor heating system, these are usually a wool felt type of underlay.
Types of Underlayment for Laminate Floor
Laminate floor underlayment is available in rolls of material that can be easily installed for any one, or a combination, of the following purposes:
A damp-proof membrane – prevents moisture causing the laminate floor to expand and shrink.
Sound-proofing – reducing impact, or foot-fall, noise when walking on a laminated floor.
Heat insulation – Apart from saving energy and saving money fuel bills, effective heat insulation under a laminate floor will improve the ‘feel’ of it when walking over it.
Leveling underlayment – some foam laminated floor underlayment’s can be used to effectively flatten or level slight imperfections in the floor base.
Combination underlayment – rather than installing layers of underlayment to cope with the various conditions described above; you can now buy underlayment that has been treated to act as an effective underlayment with combined properties.