Everybody knows that most homes in the US have carpets decorating their rooms. Carpets give a lot of personality to any space inside a house. But they wouldn’t last many years if it weren’t for carpet underlays. Carpets need to have an underlay to have a longer lifespan and provide real comfort.
Even when no one can see them at first sight, carpet underlays serve the purpose of safeguarding carpets and floors in many ways. But many people don’t have a clear opinion about them and don’t know if installing a carpet underlay is worth the money.
Do Carpets Need Underlay?
Carpets need to have an underlay to have a longer lifespan and provide real comfort. They undergo much wear and wouldn’t last as much if it wasn’t for the carpet underlay. Even when no one can see them at first sight, carpet underlays serve the purpose of safeguarding carpets and floors in many ways.
Carpet underlays serve significant purposes related to comfort, protection, and much more; depending on the type of material they have and the case, one will work better than the others. So, although installing a carpet underlay costs money, it’s an investment that will help carpets and floors last longer.
What Are The Benefits Of Having A Carpet Underlay?
A carpet underlay’s primary goal is to prolong the lifespan of your carpet. But underlays have many more benefits related to comfort, protection, and even insulation that not only benefit rugs but also improve the house’s environment, making them an integral element of any home.
Several benefits that are part of the job of a carpet underlay include:
- Protecting the carpet from excessive wear
A carpet underlay keeps the rug from wearing and tearing prematurely by absorbing part of the damage foot traffic produces. The underlay is a cushion that will compress and rebound back when people walk over the carpet, taking some of the fibers’ tension.
- Preventing slipping
A carpet underlay strongly connects the carpet above with the floor below it. While doing this, the underlay holds the rug in place, preventing it from slipping and securing the carpet. With the carpet unable to move or buckle up, accidents are prevented by eliminating tripping risks.
- Preventing stains
Accidents can happen anytime, and there’s always the possibility of something spilling on the carpet. The spill would travel towards the floor if it wasn’t for carpet underlays, which prevent spills from directly reaching the floor, preventing major stains.
- Protecting the floors from the rug
Carpets can also provoke some types of damage to the floors. Sometimes the carpet’s backing can cause abrasions on the floor, or there’s also a risk of color transfer from the carpet to the floor. A carpet underlay can prevent these situations.
- Cushioning your steps
Carpet underlays improve the feeling of any carpet when you walk over them. Carpets will feel softer because the underlay cushions the steps. This difference can be especially appreciated when people walk over a carpet with a good underlay over hard floors (like concrete floors).
- Reducing noises
When a carpet underlay cushions people’s steps, it also works perfectly as a sound absorber. So a carpet underlay is also a sound barrier that mufflers and dissipates the sound steps make when people walk, creating a much quiet home environment.
- Reducing heat loss
A carpet underlay is also a barrier that prevents heat from escaping the house’s interior through the floor. Many carpet underlays are specifically designed to work as thermal insulation.
- Reducing energy bills
When a carpet underlay prevents the heat from scaping the house, this can reduce the amount of heat that needs to be produced again. This helps save money by reducing energy costs caused by heat production.
- Protecting the house from moisture
Houses and moisture don’t get along well. Moisture can cause many negative consequences to floors and furniture alike. So there also exist carpet underlays with a damp-proof membrane that keep moisture levels down inside the house.
What Can Happen If You Don’t Use A Carpet Underlay?
Not having a carpet underlay installed is not recommended due to many reasons. The most common reason is that the lifespan of your rug will get significantly reduced without an underlay. But there are many other downside effects of not installing a rug underlay.
Suppose you install a carpet without a carpet underlay that absorbs and cushion most of the impact and damage food traffic provokes. In that case, the carpet will start showing signs of wear much faster than it should, and its fibers will start looking trample.
Not only a high amount of foot traffic causes carpets to wear faster. Sand, soil, and dirt also contribute a lot in wearing carpets out faster as they gather in the carpet’s foundation. If you have a carpet underlay, this won’t happen because they would accumulate in the underlay instead of the carpet.
Aside from the dirt that can accumulate in the carpet, stains and spills are significant problems to consider. Carpet underlays help prevent liquids from reaching the floor, but without them, there’s a high possibility your floors will be exposed to stains of any kind.
But wear is not the only thing to be concerned about. Comfort and safety are essential factors to consider too when it comes to carpets. If you don’t have a carpet underlay over hard floors, you will feel the floor’s hardness through the carpet, making walking uncomfortable.
And carpet underlays help keep the carpets in place, preventing them from slipping or buckling up. Without a carpet underlay, there will always be a risk of tripping with the carpet and from it slipping everywhere, making it not safe to walk on.
Not all carpets wear out the same way, and the downside of not having a carpet underlay is more obvious in areas where the carpet suffers more foot traffic. Not having a carpet underlay will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the lifespan and protection of your carpet.
In the end, carpet underlays also help protect your inversion in the long run. And although they are a money inversion on their own, because installing a carpet underlay costs money, they will protect your floors and carpets, making you spend less money in a short time.
Does Every Carpet Need An Underlay?
Aside from felt-backed carpets, all other carpets should have an underlay. This makes felt-backed carpets the perfect option for people that have a tight budget to consider, as they can be fitted directly on the floor, with or without a carpet underlay, so there’s no need to spend money on it.
But it’s important to know that each situation is different, and aside from felt-backed carpets, there’s another exception. People with underfloor heating don’t need a carpet underlay because it can prevent the heat produced by the heat panels from reaching the carpet and scaping through it.
What Types Of Carpet Underlay Exist?
There isn’t just one type of underlay. Depending on the material they are made from, you can find foam underlays, sponge rubber underlays, felt underlays, and crumb rubber underlays. But it’s important to consider that depending on the carpet and flooring you have, the underlay you need will vary.
- Foam underlay
This carpet underlay is typically made of PU foam. This material is one of the most versatile among all underlays while also being soft and lightweight. It’s also excellent for insulation, noise reduction, and it’s very easy to fit in difficult places. Due to its softness, this underlay is the most popular among house owners.
- Sponge rubber underlay
This type of underlay shines among others due to its durability. Aside from being very durable, it’s also great for sound reduction. This carpet underlay is also great to use with underfloor heating because it allows the heat to escape through the carpet and into the room.
- Felt underlay
This carpet underlay was very used for many years, and it’s still used now as it provides excellent cushioning. Although it is not the first option, this underlay also has a medium noise reduction capacity and warmth keeping. Plus, the material of this underlay is very cheap and easy to fit.
- Crumb rubber underlay
This type of underlay is very different than the others as it’s made mostly from recyclable materials, making it eco-friendly. The recyclable materials are densely packed together to come up with this underlay. Being the most robust underlay, it can support heavyweight, great for rooms with heavy furnishings.
Aside from the materials, the thickness is also an important factor to consider that differentiate underlays. The thickness of a carpet underlay is what gives it its cushion feature, and the thicker, the softer the carpet will feel, and the bigger the barrier between the rug and the floor will be.
Carpet underlays have a thickness range that goes from 8mm to 12mm. The thinner ones of 8mm are the firmest and used in high traffic areas, while the thicker option of 12mm provides the most comfort and is the most luxurious option.
It’s important to add that one of the main goals of carpet underlays is to work as a cushion for the carpet. Any underlay of less than 8 mm thick won’t perform its duties very well, possibly reducing the life of your carpet and making it less comfortable.
How To Choose The Right Type Of Carpet Underlay?
Choosing the right type of underlay for your carpet and floors requires thoughtful thinking and investigation. Several factors affect this decision and can change the type of underlay you need, like the type of carpet you have, its backing, the floor’s type, the location, and the furnishing.
- The carpet
The carpet is one of the main factors that will tell you the type of carpet underlay you need. If you buy a thin carpet, you’ll surely want to choose a thick carpet underlay that can provide extra cushioning when people walk over it, and this also applies vice versa.
- The carpet’s backing
The material of the carpet backing also matters in terms of deciding which type of underlay to install, taking as an example a carpet with latex backing. With this type of backing, you will surely have uneven surfaces, which can be prevented using a thick underlay.
- The floor
Depending on the characteristics of your floors, the type of carpet underlay you need can vary, taking as an example floors with underfloor heating. Carpet underlays with strong thermal insulation won’t work with these floors. Instead, a sponge rubber underlay can work well with them.
- The room
A bedroom is different than a living room. Living rooms have more foot traffic than bedrooms, so a strong carpet underlay that supports weight is the best option for it. And, for bedrooms, where people value comfort, a PU foam underlay will work great.
- The furnishing
Furnishing can also affect your carpet underlay because their weight can make the carpet become permanently indented by them. Denser underlays, like crumb rubber underlays, work great in these cases because they can support heavyweights.
How Long Does A Carpet Underlay Last?
Carpet underlays are considered an investment for safeguarding your carpets, but certainly, their lifespan makes people want them more. A carpet underlay can last up to 25 years. Although there are many things to consider like use, wear, foot traffic, and the underlay quality and density.
Many people say that carpet underlays should be replaced when you change the rug. Still, as mentioned before, all cases are individual, and the determining factors will indicate when they should be replaced. Crumb rubber underlays are the most durable of all types of carpet underlays.
How To Know Your Carpet Underlay Needs Replacement?
Carpet underlays serve very specific purposes, so when they wear out prematurely or are too damaged, it’s time to replace them. The carpet on its own will show several signs that will let you know it’s time to start looking for a new carpet underlay.
- It feels hard to touch.
- If you bend it or flex it, it splits or crumbles.
- It looks worn out in places of high foot traffic like the stairs.
- The carpet is wrinkling or is rucking up in some areas.
- The fibers of the carpet start to break apart.
How To Lay A Carpet Underlay?
Although laying a carpet underlay is a job better left to experienced professionals, according to the Carpet Underlay Shop, there are five steps you must follow to lay a carpet underlay. This process starts by measuring the space and finishes by laying the underlay and giving the final touches.
- Measure the room
Knowing the dimensions and measures of the room where you will lay the carpet underlay is important. Any protrusion or recesses can be ignored as the underlay will be cut around them. After having the exact measures of the length and width of the room, just multiply both to get the surface area.
- Choose your carpet underlay
As mentioned before, there are many types of carpet underlay to choose from, like felt and crumb rubber, but depending on many factors, the best option of carpet underlay for you can vary.
- Prepare the floor
Before you start to lay the carpet underlay, it’s essential to make sure the floor is clean and tidy. It’s in this stage where the grippers should be added; they need to be fitted around the room’s perimeter, leaving approximately 7mm between the gripper and the wall.
- Lay the carpet underlay
After preparing the floor it’s time to lay the carpet underlay. Take the roll to one side of the room and roll it out to the other side. The rubber or foam side has to always face down, and the underlay should be as straight as possible. Secure it in place using staples or adhesive. Each roll should be laid in the same way and very close together without overlapping.
- Final touches
Now that the entire surface is covered with the carpet underlay apply tape along the full length of each join to stop it from moving. Then, trim away any excess underlay inside the grippers.
This video made by Dunlop Flooring shows in detail how to lay and fit a carpet underlay.
Hi there! My name is Giovanna, and I’m a Med Student from Venezuela. My not-so-hidden passion for writing and research led me to start working as a freelancer in 2016, and it’s been quite an exciting journey ever since. Speaking three languages (Spanish, English, and Italian) also contributed a lot by opening many doors for me in this field. I love to write my articles the way I would love to read them, engaging, full of interesting facts about the topic, and easy to follow, making them valuable for many people. I like my job as a freelancer because I get to try and learn new skills with each new job, so I’m always excited to start new projects and for what’s next.