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How to choose the perfect carpet underlay

Why should I have a carpet underlay?

Tests have proved beyond any doubt that a carpet  underlay will help your carpet last longer.

Do I have to have a carpet underlay?

No but given the above information and the noticeable extra comfort factor it would be crazy not to consider a new underlay with your new carpet.

What types of underlay are available?

There are several but the two major types for home installations are made from rubber & polyurethane (aka pu) foam.

Rubber underlay has been around for donkey's years. You may be familiar with brand names like Tredaire & Duralay. Unless you go for the higher priced rubber underlay you tend to find it loses it's springiness quicker than polyurethane underlay. Cheap rubber underlay has aggregate, like chalk, added to it to bulk it out but chalk does not bounce like rubber, so you need to spend out and get a high rubber content if the underlay is actually going to perform.

Polyurethane underlay is far lighter to handle yet does not compromise on quality. In fact, tests have shown that a good quality polyurethane underlay (pu underlay) will enhance a quicker recovery rate from indentation marks compared to an equivalent rubber underlay.  The current major brands in polyurethane underlay are Cloud 9, made in the UK by Ball & Young & Seventh Heaven, made in the UK by Tredaire.

What are the differences in cost between rubber & pu underlay?

There's not much in it. Polyurethane underlay may work out slightly cheaper than rubber underlay but the benefits of pu underlay out perform rubber underlay.

What are the fors & againsts of rubber vs pu underlay?

Polyurethane underlay has less impact on the environment. Polyurethane underlay is made from "trim". Trim is the unused waste generated from other polyurethane users. For example, the foam used in settee/sofa production starts out in huge pu blocks. These get cut down to approximate sofa sizes but once they get accurately shaped, pu trim waste is generated & used in many other manufacturing processes, one of which is polyurethane underlay.  After it's use, polyurethane underlay can be recycled. Something you can't do with rubber underlay.

Polyurethane underlay also has unparalleled acoustic & thermal properties. It's high TOG rating means it's a fantastic heat insulator and pu underlay has exceptional sound reducing qualities when compared with rubber underlay.

PU underlay also allows your carpet to recover quicker than average rubber underlay from heavy indentations left after heavy objects have been left on your carpet for a while

Would you recommend polyurethane underlay over rubber?

All things considered & assuming your installation is an average house installation, then yes, we would recommend pu underlay.

Which polyurethane underlay should I buy, then?

As with most things, generally, the more your spend the better the quality you receive. It depends on how long you plan to stay in the home and how much your budget is.

If you want your home to look fresh and feel good to aid selling or you are a Landlord letting properties, then opt for one of our budget pu underlays.  We would suggest not spending over £2.00 per square metre.

However, if you plan to stay in your home for a few years it is well worth spending over £2.00 per square metre. You will notice the difference and the underlay will certainly perform much longer and help your carpet last longer too.

Are there any basic facts I should be aware of to help me choose?

With pu underlay, yes there are:

1. The quality of the underlay is measured by density of foam made to produce it.  Almost all of our polyurethane underlays have technical data sheets available.  Look for what the weight per m3 (per cubic metre) is.  The higher the value the denser the foam and therefore, the better the product.
2. How thick the product is.  You could have a 12mm pu underlay but made from a low density.   That's not great!  What you want, for longevity, is a pu underlay with a high density weight and a high guage/thickness.

If this all seems too much to you just ask.  Flooring Megastore - we're the Flooring Gurus!

Further Reading that you'll love...

How much protection does stain protection give?

How much does carpet cost per square metre?

- View our range of  carpets for sale here

How to clean your carpet yourself

How to fix torn carpets