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Flooring advice
What is flooring underlay?
July 1st, 2020

You may have heard of underlay, but you may not fully know what it can do for your home. Underlay is a barrier that sits beneath your flooring, providing several benefits for your home’s heating, comfort, and protection. Some make it easier to lay your flooring, evening out minor floor irregularities, but their primary use comes in the form of protecting your floor from environmental factors, such as moisture and temperature.

When choosing your new floor, it’s good to keep in mind that several products, including luxury vinyl, laminate and engineered wood floors, require the use of underlay for successful installation. At UK Flooring Direct we stock a variety of options to suit each of our floors, all of which have a diverse selection of options. This could include the materials used, be that rubber, foam, or liquid underlay; or it could be the attributes each of them hold.

Let’s go through the main options to look out for to ensure you’re ready to make the right decision for your new floor.


Eliminating uneven subfloors

Uneven subfloors can cause a variety of issues later down the line, including unwanted movement, cracking, or lifting. To help mitigate any issues further down the line, one easy solution is to include underlay that helps even out minor floor irregularities, thus providing a better surface to lay your new flooring onto. Our cushion acoustic gold wood flooring underlay is a great example of this.

Carpet underlay and accessories

The quality and thickness of your carpet has a very direct effect on which underlay will be best for you. If you have a thinner carpet for example then a thicker, higher-grade underlay is best to ensure the longevity and overall comfort of the carpet. Conversely, thicker carpets are best with thinner underlay and can be fitted without underlay, depending on the backing and subfloor suitability.

Unlike most other floors, carpets will require additional accessories for a successful installation as well as underlay – gripper rods to secure the carpet and door profiles.

Insulation with inbuilt damp proof membrane

If wood floors are exposed to too much moisture then they have a tendency to expand and buckle – especially if they’re installed above concrete subfloors. To help prevent this, install underlay with inbuilt Damp Proof Membrane (DPM). This will provide your floor with an added layer of protection. This will provide your floor with an added layer of protection.

Underlay with thermal insulation

All underlay provides some level of thermal insulation, providing another layer of protection for your home, there are also some specifically designed to provide as much insulation as possible. Thermal insulation in your underlay isn’t purely for added comfort, it can also keep your house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, lowering any heating or cooling costs and therefore saving you money on household bills.

Sound reduction underlay

Flooring underlay with added sound reduction qualities reduces the impact noise travelling to any rooms below. This is ideal for flats or apartments, providing an added layer of privacy and prevents disturbing neighbours. It can also be useful in particularly busy households, where you don’t want to hear other family members upstairs.

Sound reduction underlay is also incredibly popular in office blocks where noise from above can become incredibly distracting. When looking into sound reduction, check the rating for each underlay as some will provide greater sound insulation than others.

This particular underlay is the only underlay recommended for use with our LVT floors, as our alternative options aren’t suitable due to their density. What’s more, it provides an advantageous anti-slip top surface, which ensures the flooring is securely in place – making installation quick and easy. It also offers the intended benefit of sound proofing with a specially designed 19db acoustic sound reduction when fitted underneath our vinyl floors.

Underlay for underfloor heating

If you’re planning on installing underfloor heating, it is vital that you check that your chosen underlay and flooring can be used with your new system. If the products you choose don’t allow sufficient airflow to circulate then your system can overheat. As an example, our Essential Cushion White Underlay is suitable for underfloor heating systems.

Other underlays may have unique features that set themselves apart from the rest; for example, our Fast Fit Solid Wood Underlay is a self-adhesive foam underlay that makes it easier to fit tongue and groove flooring without the need for glue or nails, perfect for someone looking to take on the project themselves. With so many different options and combinations, it is always best to have a thorough look at all the options available and make an informed choice.

Check out our post on preparing for installation, to ensure you’re ready before tackling a job yourself here.