Do You Need to Replace Your Carpet Underlay?

The lifespan of your carpet's underlay depends on its thickness and density as well as proper maintenance and care.

Do You Need to Replace Your Carpet Underlay?

The carpet base can last for many years, and many manufacturers even offer warranties during this period. However, the thickness and density of the bottom layer will directly affect its durability. A thick base of the carpet (any surface greater than 10 mm) is usually spongy and feels very comfortable underfoot, making it ideal for bedrooms, but it can also compress faster, especially in areas with the most foot drops, reducing its lifespan. All major carpet base brands offer some kind of guarantee against the lifespan of their products.

Of course, the chances of you actually claiming the warranty are slim, as your floor often degrades (or will change it) much sooner than the base layer itself, but it gives you peace of mind that your investment will pay off over time. One of the most notable benefits of installing a carpet base is the soft, fluffy feel it offers underfoot. However, an underlying layer that reaches the end of its life cycle will feel uneven, lumpy, and even uncomfortable walking on it. Likewise, if the base and carpet have been placed in a room where there are known to be problems with humidity or excess moisture in the air, then you should try to reduce it as much as you can, not only to protect the base, but also to prevent mold or damp odors from forming.

Reorganizing furniture regularly helps to distribute weight evenly across the carpet, preventing crevices and excessive wear and tear on the underlayer in specific areas. Similarly, try placing protective pads under heavy furniture to help distribute weight evenly and reduce pressure on the base. Proper maintenance of the carpet base can ensure that it reaches its maximum lifespan or beyond. Damaged fibers from old carpets tend to trap potential allergens more easily.

Dust, pet dander, mites, skin, and pollen can be hiding in the carpet, and the older it is, the harder it will be for a standard vacuum to remove trapped allergens. If you or your family have worse-than-usual allergy symptoms, your old carpet may be to blame. If you notice particularly flat or hard areas of the carpet, there is a chance that the base layer will need to be replaced. It is the base that provides additional cushioning to the carpets and extends their natural life. Rugs placed on a worn base layer can wrinkle, bubble and stretch, causing the carpet to become permanently deformed.

While there's a chance you can replace the base and put the existing carpet back in place, you'll usually have to replace both at the same time. The current trend is that of plain, unprinted carpets. If yours looks like it belongs to the 1970s, it's probably time for something new. Flowers, cashmere and other distinctive designs may once have looked fantastic, but they don't usually age well. You might love your 1975 pink furry rug with pink roses, but if you want to sell your house, you might have to go for something more neutral. For best results, a new firm base coat should be placed on a clean dry floor.

Then, the base layer must be fixed with studs or adhesive tape with joints together. As woven carpets with secondary backing must stretch evenly across the room from wall to wall this will stop movement of the base layer when carpet is placed. The carpet must be stretched evenly and held with a carpet clamp previously nailed to perimeter of room. This will ensure that carpet pile is in an upright position giving it best resistance to foot traffic. This also helps reduce carpet wear.

This is a topic we get a lot of questions about here at CarpetAce and our answer is sincere: yes you should buy a new carpet base practically every time you put in a new carpet. The only exemption is if current base is less than twelve months old or is in optimal condition. A thin bottom layer reduces comfort even on premium rugs like Axminster while padded bottom layer adds flexibility that can be easily seen underfoot. Since average lifespan of carpet is about 10-15 years overall performance of base coat will drop significantly after this point and you don't want base coat to go bad before you're ready to change floor again. Therefore sponge rubber base has lifespan similar to granulated rubber products and some of best sponge rubber layers can last between 20-25 years. If you want a carpet base that is less problematic or if you want install it near damp area (such as bathroom or shower) go for it.

We only recommend thin base layer if you have underfloor heating or carpeted stairs where thick rubber layer is more difficult to install.

Cyril Price
Cyril Price

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