Understanding Underlays: A Beginner's Guide

08.01.2021

What are flooring underlays, do you need them, and are they all the same? We provide the answers in our beginner's guide to understanding underlays.

What does underlay mean in flooring?

When trying to figure out a term you may be unfamiliar with, it's always best to break it down to its most simplified form. For instance, when looking at underlay or underlayment, the simplest definition is that of the layer placed behind another layer. In flooring, underlays are commonly used to cushion out uneven surfaces and provide a range of functional benefits such as noise reduction and heat insulation.

Is an underlay necessary?

Bumps, dents and all the bother that come from uneven surfaces can be a real nightmare when trying to lay down new flooring, that's why putting down an underlay first helps to really solidify your ideal vision. 

Flooring without underlay is like a sandwich without filling, sure bread is great and all, but you know from the first bite that something's missing. Some flooring comes ready to install, such as the Moduleo Layred Flooring range which comes equipped with an integrated underlay, making the job every bit easier for you. Additionally, sheet vinyl automatically contains all the cushioning and smoothing needed, so it musn't be used with an underlay.

Are underlays a one size fits all?

Picking out your underlay can be just as important as your choice of flooring. While all underlays will offer protection and even out subfloor surfaces, some will have better benefits. For instance, one underlay could have more significant noise cancelling features than another, leading to fewer creaks, stamps and noise pollution!

There are universal underlays that can be applied to most laminate, vinyl and wooden flooring options. However, it isn't always a one size fits all option when it comes to underlays, as some products require a specific product.  An example of this is the Quickstep Livyn click vinyl flooring range, which has an underlay developed to be the perfect accompaniment for this collection. Finally, a good thing to keep in mind is that you will often find that you will need to use the manufacturers specified underlay to avoid voiding the flooring product.

Summary

A lot of time has passed since the days of stuffing newspaper under the carpet to get that cushioned feel. Nowadays, an underlay is a pivotal part of your flooring project and provides the building blocks to your dream creation. Just keep in mind that when you are thinking of choosing something like laminate flooring, it's best to check if what you're buying has a mandatory underlay before you start laying it down!

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