Help and advice in choosing carpet underlay
DO I NEED A CARPET UNDERLAY?
If your new carpet is of a secondary backed, jute backed or 'action back' type, the answer is probably yes. These carpets are intended for use with a separate underlay, except in certain commercial installations where the carpet can be glued directly to the sub floor. If your new carpet has a textile or felt backing, these can be laid directly to the sub floor, so saving on cost, but this option will compromise on both comfort and energy efficiency, the latter due to increased heat loss through the floor. Another downside to laying these carpets without an underlay is that carpet gripper cannot be used to stretch the carpet to the shape of the room, often giving a less precise finish to the installation.
CAN I RE-USE MY OLD UNDERLAY?
Re-use of old underlay is generally not recommended; it may look fine at this stage, but could fail during the lifetime of the carpet, rendering any guarantee on the carpet as invalid. Would you buy a brand new car and ask the garage to fit your old tyres? Of course not, you would want the new car to perform exactly as it should. Re-use of old underlay is, as they say, penny wise and pound foolish.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I PAY FOR UNDERLAY?
The answer to this one is "As much as you can afford to." Underlays do vary in quality and suitability, but generally speaking, when comparing ranges, the more you pay for the underlay, the better the quality it will be, giving extended life to your carpet. That said, before you spend out on that new underlay, do compare prices, as the internet based companies are often just a third of the price that you would pay to one of the 'big' carpet stores. A similar situation applies to carpet gripper, where a full 500 foot box of the product can be purchased for less than £30 online, but the equivalent quantity could cost you a staggering £270 in one of the big stores.
ANY TIPS FOR LAYING?
Firstly, make sure you purchase the correct amount of underlay and be aware that unlike purchasing carpet, where you buy to the nearest width to fit your room, underlay can be purchased to a net amount. So if, for example, your rooms total 50 square metres but you are having to buy 54 square metres of carpet to comply with the widths available, you still only need 50 square metres of underlay. No point in buying a product simply to throw it away. Be sure to lay the underlay the correct way up, if it has a printed side, this should be laid uppermost. If it has a cloth, film or paper backing, this should be laid uppermost. Taping the joins is a good idea and most companies will stock a product suitable for this purpose
WHERE TO BUY CARPET UNDERLAY?
In most instances it is much cheaper to buy online where savings can be up to 75% off retail prices. At the time of writing this article a brand leading underlay from a major UK manufacturer can be bought online for as little as £2.33 square metre as opposed to a major retaler charging £7.49 square metre (both prices calculated ex-VAT). Do check delivery costs, though, as some sites make only a small one-off charge for delivery, whilst some sites can charge a lot more. Again at the time of writing, this site charges less than £10 for delivery to most areas, regardless of how many items you order, so no matter whether it's one roll or a hundred, that one £10 cost covers it all.
WITH SO MANY UNDERLAYS AVAILABLE, WHICH ONE SHOULD I CHOOSE?
There are a number of underlays made for specific purposes such as use with underfloor central heating. When considering which range to opt for, bear in mind that the lower the tog value, the more efficient your underfloor heating will prove to be. Most low tog underlays for carpet will be thinner than the majority of other carpet underlays available, in order to achieve a low tog rating, but at the top end some do combine extra thickness and a low tog value, but this does come with a slightly higher price tag. Foam underlays are generally not suitable for use with underfloor heating as they have a high tog value.
This article is published by Morning Media Ltd.