What you need to know about this hidden but crucial component of the flooring system
When most people think of flooring, they only think of the visible surface they walk on. In reality, the flooring system is made of layers which typically include the floor surface or covering (carpet, vinyl, etc.), the underlay, the subfloor, and the joists. Each layer is essential to the floor’s function.
Underlay is a thin material that rests between the floor covering and the subfloor.
Almost every type of flooring requires an underlay. Plywood, cement board, hardboard, cork, rubber, felt or thin foam padding are some of the common types of underlay. The type of underlay to use will depend on the flooring to be installed.
The foremost purpose of an underlay is to provide a smooth surface to allow for easy and even installation of the flooring surface.
Underlay also extends the life of your floor surface or covering by helping to resist damage from rising underfloor moisture. For carpet flooring, underlay absorbs shock and impact from foot traffic and also provides a soft backing for the carpet underside thus minimising wear and tear.
Carpet underlay also serves other functions such as softening the feeling of the flooring underfoot for more comfort.
Underlay also acts as a thermal insulator to keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Depending on its density and thickness, it could also help you reduce your electricity bills by preventing heat loss on your floor.
It also is a great sound insulator and and quietens the sound of footsteps, which is important if you have a multi-level home.