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Underlay Wars – Foam Vs Rubber

By 5 November 2019Flooring

When you’re replacing your carpet, you want to make sure you’re doing it right. After all, replacing an entire carpet isn’t cheap, so you want to be sure it lasts as long as possible. There are two ways to do this. The first is to buy good quality carpet, and the second is to choose the right underlay. The underlay for your carpet is something that goes on top of your floorboard and underneath your carpet, providing extra comfort, support and insulation. But how do you know what’s the best type of underlay to buy?



Why Do You Need Underlay?

Let’s start at the beginning. The term underlay generally refers to a thin layer of cushioning that goes underneath your carpeting. It’s generally made of things like sponge rubber, foam, felt or crumb rubber, depending on the manufacturer and your preference. Underlay is laid under your carpeting (hence underlay) to do a few things:


  • Provide comfort and cushioning underfoot
  • Reduce wear on the carpet, prolonging its life
  • Provide insulation against sound, moisture and heat


Yes, you can technically lay a floor without laying underlay first, but frankly, why would you? Without underlay your floor won’t perform as well, and you might find you end up spending more on heating during the colder months.


So when you do go to choose your underlay, which type do you choose?


Foam Underlay

Foam, or PU foam underlay is becoming a very popular type of underlay, particularly for carpets. This is mainly because it offers more comfort, and can make your carpet feel even better. It’s also made purely from recycled materials and old scraps of foam, making it a more environmentally friendly option. PU foam underlay can have a solid or an open cell structure, with each one giving different levels of flexibility and durability. This means you can choose the right type of underlay for different parts of your house, like high vs low traffic areas.


Some of the benefits include:

  • It’s a light-weight material
  • It’s easy to handle and fit into any environment, including home or work
  • It costs less to manufacture, which makes it budget friendly
  • It’s made from 100% recycled materials
  • There is a lot of choice for underlay types and thicknesses
  • It’s a very durable underlay
  • It has a high warmth rating, so you will save money on heating
  • It’s also a good sound dampener, so you won’t get any echoing in the house and sound won’t travel as far



Rubber Underlay

Unsurprisingly, rubber underlay is made of rubber. While there are a couple of different types, the most common by far is sponge rubber. This is a type of rubber designed to have a sponge-like substance, so it has all the advantages of both (the durability of rubber and the flexibility of sponge). The structure is called an air-filled matrix, and looks a lot like the holey sponge structure you’ll see in dish or bath sponges. There isn’t as much choice available when it comes to rubber underlay, and it can be a more expensive option to install – but it is the preferred underlay for wooden flooring.


Some of the benefits include:

  • Provides more cushioning, so carpets feel softer and more comfortable to walk on
  • Keeps in up to 15% more heat than other types of underlay
  • Created a barrier to sound, helping reduce unwanted noise in your home
  • Acts as a ‘shock absorber’ for your carpet, so it suffers less wear and tear over time
  • Protects the carpet pile, making it easier to clean and more hygienic in the long term


At Floor24, we don’t just supply carpets and hard floors – we also provide a wide range of underlay too. That means we can help you choose the right underlay for your floor and your home, prolonging the life of your new floor and making it as comfortable as can be. If you would like some free advice, or to browse our selection, just get in touch with us today or drop into the showroom.

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