Floor underlay is a layer of rubber, felt, foam or crumb that sits directly underneath your carpet, laminate or wooden floor.
With underlay, your floors will last longer, be more comfortable to walk on, and even be more hygienic.
Choosing the right underlay is important.
If you pick the wrong one it could make your home seriously uncomfortable and lead to more money spent on a new floor a lot sooner than you’d planned.
Here is our guide to choosing the right underlay for your new laminate flooring.
What thickness underlay is best for laminate flooring?
Anywhere between three and six millimeters will be enough to provide comfort, ground levelling and sound proofing properties.
It should be no more than 6mm thick; if you go any thicker you could experience problems with the laminate’s snap/click locking system that seals your floor together.
If this doesn’t work, your final floor finishing won’t sit level.
What kind of underlay should you use for laminate flooring?
Laminate flooring is extremely popular due to it being cost-effective and easier to clean than carpet.
There are various underlays on the market for you to choose from, but defining what you want from your floor first will help you pick the best underlay.
One thing laminate floors lack is insulation abilities, which is where thermal underlays come in.
If you want to save money on your energy bills, investing in a thermal floor underlay might be the way to go as less heat will escape through your floor so the room will stay at a comfortable temperature.
This way you don’t have to constantly rely on your heating during the cold winter months.
Polyurethane, or PU foam is a popular choice for those wanting maximum comfort.
Being soft and springy, PU foam underlay reduces the impact of your feet on the floor, making it more comfortable for you to walk on and minimise the risk of damage.
If you have children causing chaos or a pet running around, you might want to think about an acoustic underlay for more peace and quiet.
As well as providing sound proofing benefits, acoustic underlay also helps to insulate your floor as well.
How much should your underlay cost?
The average cost of underlay per square metre is between £3 and £8 so it’s important you measure the area accurately so you don’t end up paying for material you don’t need.
Not buying enough can also be problematic for a few reasons.
If you don’t buy enough you could end up making multiple orders if you don’t measure accurately; you’ll obviously have to pay for what you order, which could end up costing you more in the long run.
You’ll also have to pay more than one delivery charge and your fitter (if you have one) might charge you double if they need to come out twice.
How long will it take to finish the project?
How long it takes to finish the project depends on how big (or small) the area is.
The installation of your underlay and laminate floor itself is fairly straightforward, and shouldn’t take more than a few days - even for larger spaces like kitchens or living rooms.
But first, you need to give your flooring time to adjust to its new home.
Unbox your laminate 48 to 72 hours before installation begins to allow it to acclimate to the temperature and humidity of the room it’ll be installed in - individual planks can buckle separate as they shrink and swell.
After your installation is complete, you should allow your new floors to cure for at least 24 hours before you walk on them to keep them in good shape.
What will be going on the finished floor and does it impact the type of underlay you’ll need?
Laminate floors are effectively ‘floating’ floors.
There’s no need to secure the panels with nails or glue and you clip the panels together.
This is where your subfloor comes in; any defects will seriously affect the quality of your finished floors, which is why laminate flooring underlay is important to get right first time.
With the many types of laminate underlay comes their own benefits, so it’s important to think about what will be going on your floor once installation is complete.
Sponge, rubber and fireboard underlays provide strength and stability, meaning your floor won’t be overstrained when it comes to making finishing touches to your room with furniture and other decor.
If you’re new to laminate flooring underlay, it’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed with all the options available.
Remember what you want from your finished floor and what will help you achieve it.
It’s a good idea to speak to a specialist supplier and they can figure out what’s going to be best for your project.