What is underlay?

What is underlay?

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If you’re exploring different options when you’re looking to update or change the flooring in your home, then you’ll have come across different options for underlay. It’s an important part of buying a new floor especially a carpet. But what is underlay and why do you need it? We’re here to tell you all about the incredible benefits of underlay, and why it’s crucial for looking after your flooring and giving you lots of great benefits!

Underlay is the layer of material that goes underneath the flooring that you can see in your home, such as carpet or laminate. It provides several benefits, such as extra insulation (making it a great way to help warm up a room), helps to maintain your flooring, add softness underfoot, and may offer protection against moisture.

We’ll answer some of the common questions our floorologists get asked about underlay, to help give you a clearer picture of exactly why underlay is amazing, and you definitely want to include it in your next flooring purchase!

Real Customer Home
Tapi Gold Underlay

What is underlay used for?

Underlay is used as the foundation of your floor and is the first building brick you need to put down when fitting new flooring. It is used to cushion and separate your top layer of flooring from your subfloor, which can be important for a lot of reasons, like reducing the amount of noise and heat loss, or increasing the comfort underneath your feet and the longevity of your flooring. If you're concerned about your subfloor, then have a read of our guide on how to tell if it's time to replace your subfloor.

Some types of flooring will come with an underlay built in, such as some vinyl, which comes with a thick spongey layer at the bottom that will provide the same benefits as an underlay. Other types of flooring, like carpet, laminate, engineered wood, and luxury vinyl tiles will need an underlay to gain those extra benefits if they don’t come with any underlay attached.

What does underlay do?

A good underlay will have lots of benefits for your space, including:

  • Increased comfort under your feet
  • Smoothing out any minor imperfections on your subfloor
  • Reduce wear on your carpet by absorbing heavy footfall
  • Better sound absorption – so your neighbours will love it too!
  • Improved insulation and heat retention
  • Can help to reduce the flattening of your carpet pile

The types of materials that are used to make different underlays contribute to a lot of these great qualities.  

Real Customer Home
Excel Laminate Underlay

What is underlay made of?

Underlay can be made from a variety of materials to suit the different purposes that it’s used for. For example, the underlay for carpet can be made from rubber, while the underlay for laminate needs to be a little thinner, so could be made from fibreboard.

The most common materials that underlay can be made from include:

  • Foam
  • Fibreboard
  • Rubber with foil underneath (for laminate)
  • Rubber sponge
  • Crumb rubber

Each of these different types of underlay will come in different forms, which means that they are often fitted in different ways. Our guide to fitting underlay is a really helpful guide to fitting different types of underlay if you’re a DIY enthusiast and want to try it yourself. We always recommend that you use a professional - Our fitting service can do the job for you to an exceptional standard for your peace of mind.

What is the best underlay?

Here at Tapi, we don’t think that there is one type of underlay that is better than another. However, we do know that finding the right type of underlay for your flooring will be specific to the space you want to put it in, its purpose, and what it’s placed underneath. The right type of underlay can even vary greatly just depending on your personal preferences too!

Consider first what thickness of underlay you need for the floor type you choose – for example, you can have very thick underlays underneath carpet flooring, but you don’t want thick underlay for use underneath laminate flooring, as it can cause your laminate flooring to lift or feel spongey. Our underlays are available in thicknesses between 7mm to 12mm - come down to your local Tapi store to speak with one of our experts to figure out which thickness is right for you.

Another important factor to consider is the tog rating of your underlay – if you want to get the most heat retention possible then you need to consider a high tog rating for your underlay. However, be careful when choosing underlay to go with underfloor heating, as high tog ratings will actually prevent your underfloor heating from getting through the floor properly! A lower tog rating is more suited to underfloor heating – you can find out more in our guide to the best flooring for underfloor heating.

You may be unsure how different types of underlay will work with your flooring, so you can always get free samples from our Tapi stores to help you visualise exactly how it will look in your home, and which one has the best feeling underfoot for you too.

If you’d like to talk through the different underlay types with an expert, head down to your local Tapi store or book a free video call to chat with our floorologists. We’ll talk you through all the different options available to you, and help you find the best option for your space. Why not check out our range of carpet underlays and carpets, available in a range of colours, styles and prices – we’ve got great carpets for every budget!

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Published: 30-11-2022