Though most people tend to focus only on the top layer of flooring, it's essential to understand how underlay can affect your home. Usually referring to a layer of cushioning or insulation, underlay provides insulation against heat, moisture, and sound. It is often installed directly under the flooring and can consist of a wide array of materials.
Underlays commonly include rubber, felt, foam, and other "cushioning" materials, but those products also serve particular functions. In many cases, the manufacturers design them to reflect heat or reduce noise. One can install underlays beneath both carpets and hardwoods, but some designs can go under roofing tiles.
A great example of a sound-reducing underlay includes the TimberTech2 Acoustic Plus Gold. This product is great for wood floors, but it has an unparalleled ability to reduce noise between floors. It is also worth considering the Quick-Step TransitSound, which can almost eliminate the sound of running and walking – perfect for homes with children.
Underfloor carpet heating underlays like the ones available from WarmUp have virtually revolutionized the flooring industry. Though usually only about 6mm thick, these unique products utilize a foil coating to reflect heat into the room below. This feature helps eliminate the issue of upstairs bedrooms getting overheated while downstairs rooms remain cold.
Underfloor heating underlays are also suited to hardwood floors because they don't add a significant amount of cushion or padding. This is important for those homeowners who want to maximize their control over the temperature of their homes, but don't enjoy the "bouncy" effect of over-padded hardwoods.
No matter the type of flooring or roofing, if one is handling a new construction or expansion, it is crucial to consider an investment in high-quality underlays.