Are you stuck on which underlay to choose for your new floor? If you’ve just bought a new floor, or you’re replacing the existing one, you need to know which underlay is going to be the best. The purpose of underlay is to provide thermal insulation, increase the comfort of the floor and reduce the amount of noise. But, there are some factors you need to consider before you buy any.

To help you get the gist of things, here are some tips to help you choose the right underlay for your floor.

Which specs should you go for?

Know your TOG

TOG - the quality of underlay can be measured by the TOG rating. It’s used to measure thermal insulation and how effective it is. The higher the TOG rating, the better the level of insulation.

What’s a DPM?

If you have a concrete subfloor, then you definitely need a DPM. A damp proof membrane (DPM) is usually placed underneath a concrete subfloor to stop moisture from travelling through the floor. New-builds and homes post the 1970s should have a DPM already fitted beneath the concrete.

Thickness

You might think it’s ok to choose thick underlay for better comfort but unfortunately, that’s not necessarily always the case. There are a number of different factors to consider when choosing the thickness of your underlay.

If you’re fitting underfloor heating, this will impact the thickness of your underlay. If the underlay is too thick, the heat will find it hard to travel through the boards.

Another example is you wouldn’t choose a 6mm foam underlay for laminate flooring because the click-fit system will un-click.

Which material should you go for?

Foam underlay

Ideal for wood and laminate flooring

If you’re stuck to a tight budget, foam underlay is affordable, warm and practical. It’s becoming increasingly popular for laminates, mainly because it adds more comfort. 

Foam, also known as PU foam is made from recycled scraps of foam, making it one of the most environmentally-friendly options of underlay. It’s also a brilliant sound dampener so you won’t have to worry about those creaky floorboards again.

Make sure you consider the thickness and TOG rating if you have underfloor heating. With foam having a high TOG rating it can block the heat trying to get through into the room. 

Foam underlay with engineered flooring

Thermal underlay

Ideal for laminate, vinyl and engineered wood flooring

If you're thinking about installing underfloor heating but not sure which underlay to choose, you need thermal underlay. Not only does it keep your floor warmer for longer, but the thermal barrier stops moisture from damaging your floor, keeping your home damp-free!

Just to remind you - if you are wanting to install underlay on top of underfloor heating, then you need a floor with a fairly low TOG rating. This will allow as much heat as possible to pass through the underlay and warm up the room. 

man taping thermal underlay

Fibreboard underlay

Ideal for engineered wood and laminate flooring

Fibreboard is a brilliant choice. It helps smooth uneven floors, reduces noise and acts as an excellent thermal insulator. Not to mention, it's also the number 1 choice of underlay for laminate and wooden floors.

If you have an uneven subfloor, the fibreboard will help even any dips and dents you can't level out. Remember to add a DPM if you're fitting fibreboard on top of a concrete subfloor, as moisture may cause your floor to warp. Fibreboard can be laid loosely but we recommend you use joint tape to attach the boards together. 

Remember, wood and water don’t mix! Fibreboard should not be used in rooms that get wet, like bathrooms and wet rooms. 

Person laying fibreboard

Cork underlay

Ideal for tile and stone. Cork underlay comes pre-attached with some luxury vinyl tiles 

If dampening sound is a priority in your home, then cork underlay might be the answer to your problems. Cork underlay is one of the hygienic choices on the market. It prevents the growth of mould, bacteria and mildew. It's also super eco-friendly and works as an excellent insulator. 

However, cork is not waterproof. We would not recommend laying cork underlay with laminate flooring in rooms that are prone to getting wet. 

The best way to install cork underlay is to glue it directly to the subfloor.

Cork is suitable for hardwood floors such as solid and engineered. You can also fit cork underneath carpet, linoleum, stone and tile flooring. The possibilities are endless!  

lamnate flooring with cork underlay

Underlay facts you need to know

  1. If you’re laying your floor over concrete, you must have an underlay that includes a damp proof membrane (DPM). This blocks out any moisture that may cause damage to your floor.
  2. For the best installation, make sure your subfloor is completely level. You don’t want your newly laid floor to have dents!
  3. You do not need to buy extra underlay for luxury vinyl tiles as the majority of them come with pre-attached underlay, often made from cork or foam.
  4. If you’re nailing down your floor, you can nail through the underlay.
  5. Like your floor, you should fit the underlay lengthways of the room.

Which underlay are you going to choose? Whether it's for the laminate in your hallway or the vinyl in your bathroom, we sell a great range of underlay suited for any floor. 

Tag us on Instagram using #myluxuryfloor. We can't wait to see how your floor looks!