What is underlay and why is so important?

Listen to any speech at the Oscars and you’re virtually guaranteed to hear the recipient tearfully thank the film crew, the director, their family, their hairdresser, their dog… the list goes on and on. The point is that behind the glitz and glamour there’s a whole team doing the unseen work, the unfussy jobs. Likewise, a beautiful flooring may well steal the show but without its supporting cast, it’s nothing. So here’s a speech, dedicated gratefully to the real hero. It’s one about the importance of underlay and the many roles it plays in the home.


What is underlay?


Simply put underlay is a layer that’s fitted on top of a sub-floor and underneath new flooring. Normally made from sponge rubber, foam, felt, or crumb it’s a great way of making the most of new flooring, helping in a variety of ways – outlined below.


It levels the floor


When it comes to laying a wooden floor it’s vital that it’s exactly level. Even the smallest bumps and divots can result in unsightly gaps between planks. Not only does this look messy, it’s also a haven for dust and dirt, which can accumulate over time. Uneven floors also creak underfoot, reducing its lifespan and creating a, frankly horrible, noise.


It reduces sound


Speaking of horrible noise, an underlay absorbs and muffles the sounds of footsteps over the floor’s surface, resulting in laminate floors with underlay being up to 50% quieter than those without it. This is great in traditional homes but especially in split story apartments where your downstairs neighbors will barely notice you’re there.


It keeps the heat


Underlay doesn’t only insulate from sound, it also acts as a thermal insulator too – helping to keep the whole house warm. Considering the floor is the part of the home you’ll spend the most time in contact with (unless you’re a bat) it makes sense to keep those toes toasty. It’s also a fantastically simple way of making your home more energy efficient, saving enough money in heating to pay for itself in the long-term.


It’s really comfortable


What’s a home for if not comfort? Fitting an underlay with your new floor softens its impact underfoot, especially when paired with a luxurious carpet or engineered wood flooring. The thicker the underlay the softer the feel will be, with ranges generally available from 1.5 to 16mm. That said, 6-12mm is the most popular choice for that ideal feeling of bounce, although its suitability depends on the kind of flooring fitted above.


It improves hygiene


Nobody likes getting ill, that’s why a good underlay helps a floor stay as hygienic as possible. By helping a floor fit together as it should, an underlay prevents moisture from seeping between the cracks, along with dirt and other nasties. It also creates a more uniform surface, making vacuuming and/or mopping a walk in the park.


It makes floors last longer


Over many years, the continual pounding of foot on floor results in flattening, deformation and cracking. However, by acting as a physical cushion and reducing movement between planks, an underlay can drastically increase the lifespan of your floor. On the same theme, this also means it looks a lot better, for longer – helping to well and truly make a house feel like a home.

If you want to find out more about the Oscar-worthy benefits of underlay or simply want to sit and chat about the best flooring ideas for your home get in touch with Hudson flooring – our experts would be delighted to help you make the right choice.