Your guide - carpet underlay

Carpet underlay is a fundamental part of a new carpet and should never be overlooked. It’s recommended to buy new underlay when you replace your carpet, rather than using the existing underlay. The best type of carpet underlay will provide thermal insulation, reduce noise, make the carpet feel softer underfoot and will help the carpet last longer as it acts as a shock absorber.

Here is our guide to choosing the best type of carpet underlay.

Why do you need underlay?

Underlay is an integral part of replacing your carpet. There are so many benefits and you should never consider going without underlay. The benefits of the best type of carpet underlay include:

Noise reduction

Underlay will help soundproof, so it's perfect if you have a busy household!

Your carpet will look better for longer

Good quality underlay will stop the pile flattening and so the carpet will look new for longer. As the underlay acts as a shock absorber, your carpet will sit better and take more wear.

Carpet will feel softer

You carpet will feel more luxurious and softer underfoot with the extra cushioning that underlay provides.

Reduce energy bills

The best type of carpet underlay will reduce your energy bills as it will keep the heat in your room. If you plan on living in your property for longer, consider investing in a good quality thermal underlay.

Your carpet is easier to clean

As the carpet pile is protected, the carpet is easier to clean and dust will be removed more easily.

How much should you pay for underlay?

Expect to pay from £2 per metre squared for a budget underlay to £10 for a premium thermal underlay. Invest more in areas of high traffic such as the stairs as it will help the carpet retain its appearance and shape for longer.

So what is the best type of carpet underlay?

There is a variety of underlay to choose from, with the most popular being polyurethane (PU) foam, rubber and felt.

1. PU Foam

PU foam is very popular choice as it gives a lovely soft feeling underfoot. PU foam is made from recycled furniture foam, so it's an environmentally friendly choice which can be recycled again after use.

PU foam is available in various thickness depending on budget. The thicker the underlay, the better the insulation, luxurious feel and noise reduction.


  • Soft underfoot
  • Excellent thermal insulator
  • Environmentally friendly


  • Will flatten over time
  • Will not recover as easily from furniture as rubber will

Best for...

  • The bedroom where you want a really soft feeling underfoot and have less wear

2. Rubber

Rubber is great at sound proofing as well as protecting the carpet. Choose a high rubber content though to ensure your carpet recovers easily from furniture marks and to ensure it doesn't disintegrate. Rubber has been around for years and has two popular forms; sponge rubber and crumb rubber.

Sponge rubber

Sponge rubber comes in the traditional waffle form or the more modern flat rubber. Waffle takes its name from the pattern of the underlay which creates an air bubble or pocket. Waffle will flatten quicker than the flat rubber.


  • Soft underfoot (the softest after PU foam)
  • A firm underlay


  • Can disintegrate and flatten over time if you buy cheap
  • Waffle flattens easily

Best for...

  • Waffle sponge rubber is better suited to areas such as the bedroom with low traffic
  • Flat sponge rubber performs well in areas of high traffic

Crumb rubber

Crumb rubber is made from recycled car tyres, so it's an environmentally-friendly option. It is very firm and provides good support to the carpet.


  • Extremely dense and firm
  • Excellent sound proofing
  • Recovers well from furniture marks
  • Environmentally friendly - often made from around 80% recycled materials


  • Can feel very hard

Best for...

  • Areas of high traffic such as the stairs or rooms with heavy furniture
  • Popular for commercial properties as its hard-wearing

3. Felt

Felt underlay is a traditional choice and has a high wool content, making it great for insulation.


  • Extremely firm
  • Excellent thermal properties
  • Recovers well from furniture marks


  • Not luxurious underfoot

Best for...

  • Stretched woven carpets

Other choices of underlay include high thermal varieties and also underlay for underfloor heating which allow the heat to circulate into the room easier.

Published: August 16, 2018

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