Underlay, or carpet cushioning, is similar to carpet, except it is placed underneath the carpet and serves to protect it from wear and tear, to enhance insulation and to increase comfort. Furthermore, carpet underlay will help to increase the life span of the carpet, and will help to reduce heating costs. In order to choose the best type of underlay for your needs, you must select it in reference to your carpet, its quality, thickness and comfort levels.
The Thickness of the Carpet:
Your first consideration is to look at the actual carpet and then match the underlay to the thickness of the carpet. This will not be an equal match, but works out at around 2:1, carpet to underlay. For example, if the carpet is 2” thick, then you should purchase an underlay with a thickness of 1”. The thickness is important because the underlay acts as a shock absorber, you will need a sufficient amount of shock absorbencyfor a thick carpet otherwise the effects are negligible.
Within this remit is also a consideration of density. After all, thickness may be due to air pockets, or fluffy, fibrous materials, whereas density refers to the amount of material per cubic measurement. Density is important in reference to the number of people that walk on the carpet, or carpet traffic as it is referred in the industry. The greater the carpet traffic, the greater the density needs to be.
Insulation is only important in colder climates, where heating costs are high. Clearly, the greater the insulating property of the underlay, the cheaper will be your heating bills, and consequently, the more money you will save. A decent insulating underlay will enable you to turn down the thermostat by several degrees, and save you as much as £150 a year on your energy bills.
Different materials will have different insulating properties, and so, if this is important, be sure to ask your carpet fitter for further information.