If you’re set to change or update the carpets in your home, investing in new underlay is crucial. Not only will a high-quality underlay improve comfort and insulation, it will extend the lifespan of your flooring, too.
However, carpets can be expensive, and when budgets are tight it’s tempting to cut corners by opting for the cheapest underlay you can find. But we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to.
Below we’re going to showcase the best affordable carpet underlays on the market. Each offers great value for money without sacrificing performance.
In this guide
What is ‘cheap’ carpet underlay?
We would class any product priced below £4m² as a ‘budget’ or ‘cheap’ underlay.
Does cheap mean poor quality?
Just because an underlay is affordable doesn’t mean it’s ‘bad’ or poor quality. We have continually refined our product range over 25 years based on both personal experience and trade/customer feedback, with only the best carpet underlays making the cut – whether they are £3m² or over £10m².
At the lower end of this price scale, we strive for great value – i.e. products that punch above their weight and are still built to last.
What to look for in cheap carpet underlay
When shopping in the sub-£4m² price bracket, you should consider the following:
Forget brand: just like with designer clothing, a brand name can add pounds to the m² price. When shopping on a budget, forget about the logo printed on the product and instead focus on the spec sheet, where you’ll find all the key stats (these are available to download on all our product pages). This will give you a true indication of how the underlay will perform, and what it’s worth. That said, where possible, look to buy unbranded products from trusted underlay manufacturers like Ball & Young or Interfloor, which back all their products with a guarantee for peace of mind.
Prioritise density: every underlay is given a density rating, which is how much foam/rubber/sponge is packed in each cubic metre of the product (expressed in kg/m³). The higher the figure, the better it will retain its shape under pressure (whether footsteps or furniture) and the longer it will last. You really want to see a figure above 80kg/m³, even in budget underlays. Anything above 95kg/m³ is exceptional for this price range.
Thickness: along with density, how thick your underlay is will determine how comfortable it feels underfoot. It’s also a good indicator of how it will perform when it comes to thermal loss and sound reduction. Below £4m² the maximum thickness you’re likely to find is 10mm, with most products sitting in the 8-9mm range. Luckily, these thicknesses can be used across the home, including on stairs, which makes purchasing more affordable as the fitter will be able to use offcuts from one room in other areas of the home, reducing waste.
The best cheap carpet underlays
Interfloor Alpha 8mm
The cheapest carpet underlay we stock, Alpha is ideal for those renovating on a budget. It exceeds our minimum density recommendation with a rating of 87kg/m³, while offering 1.90 TOG insulation and reducing impact sound by 33dB.
An unbranded product by Interfloor, at 8mm it’s suitable for across the home and is lightweight and easy to handle to boot.
It’s unusual to find a recognised brand for less than £4m² but Brio by Tredaire offers superb value for money. It manages to pack 99kg/m³ of foam into its 8mm construction, giving it a lovely cushioned feeling underfoot. It also helps with insulation and impact noise, offering a 2.18 TOG and 32dB sound reduction.
Guaranteed to last serviceable lifespan of your carpet and able to be installed anywhere in the home, it’s an affordable investment that will pay dividends.
Ball & Young Cosi 8mm
Carpet fitters particularly like it as it’s affordable for the customer but delivers across the board: 2.40 TOG, 31dB sound reduction and 92kg/m³ density rating. Plus, you can trust Ball & Young to honour its guarantee, which counts for something.
To find a quality 10mm underlay for less than £4m² is almost unheard of, but Tredaire Zest bucks the trend. Usually, you would sacrifice density at this thickness, but Zest maintains a 99kg/m³ rating. The result is an underlay that feels great underfoot but is still built to last.
Insulation (2.64 TOG) and sound reduction (39dB) are above average too, making it an excellent choice for bedrooms and living rooms, where comfort is a priority.
Interfloor Sigma 10mm
Sigma breaks our £4m² price ceiling by 5p, but it’s worth the extra expense. A 9mm underlay manufactured by Interfloor, it manages to pack in a whopping 145kg/m³ of density so you know it’s going to go the distance.
That’s not the only area it performs, though. You can also expect warmer and quieter rooms thanks to 2.37 TOG and 39dB sound reduction ratings, respectively.
Backed by a guarantee and able to be used across the entire home, these are stats that rival products priced £6m² or more. Superb value.
Need help choosing the right underlay?
So there you have it: proof that you don’t need to spend the earth to secure a quality underlay.
If you’re still unsure what would be the right product for your project, get in touch with our expert team at email@example.com. We will be more than happy to help.