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Best Underlay for Stairs

stair underlay stacked

Underlayment beneath a stair carpet is essential to maintain the look and feel of your carpet in heavy traffic use. There are quite a few benefits to be had with their installation. Whilst underlayments all increase the durability of the floor, they also grant a few other advantages that we will go over in this blog. 

In this guide, we will cover what to look for in the Best Underlay for Stairs, including which underlays are best for each type of stair to help you decide which of our range is best for you and your circumstances.

What to look for in the Best Underlay for Stairs? 

Underlays come with various pros and cons. The following is a list of benefits that some underlays have, which you should look for when choosing the Best Underlay for Stairs. 

Density

The durability of your underlay depends on the density of the underlay, which is decided by its material makeup. The science behind it revolves around the materials used. 

The majority of QA’s carpet underlays are made of PU foam that makes up the main structure of the underlay, bonded with premium non-woven fleece and laminated film to the top and bottom layer, to give strength and stability to the underlay.

The density of your underlay, then, contributes to the durability of your stairs. Since stairs are areas of heavy foot traffic, it becomes a matter of importance to keep your stairs fortified against heavy traffic and protect them as much as possible. That is why a dense underlayment is great for stairs. 

Underlays with high compression recovery allow for the underlay and carpet to bounce back into shape and maintain the look and life of the carpet for longer.

Comfort

The comfort of your underlayment, in our opinion, is always relevant. But for stairs, it’s especially so. Comfort is not only physical but mental. An underlayment that is safe as well as physically comforting adds great value to your home and your stairs. 

As high-traffic areas, are subject to heavy point loading, especially when walking down; a thick underlayment will counteract this through the cushioning effect, as well as provide proper support for your carpet. 

Noise Reduction

The loudest footsteps in your house will almost always come from the stairs. This is because stairs are, except in rare cases, made up of hard materials that can often amplify sound, such as wood. This, on top of the fact that stairs are usually hollow, or at least not fully supported, can create a drum-like effect that carries the noise throughout your house. 

This is why an underlayment that can reduce noise is paramount. The materials of the underlayment have noise-absorbing qualities when stepped on, reducing the noise you hear in your home. 

Types of Underlayments and Stairs

Both Underlayments and Stairs come in different materials and formats. 

There are four main materials for underlayments. We will go over each of them, and what stairs they are most suited for. 

Rubber Underlay

Rubber underlay is known for its incredible endurance against damage and long-lasting nature. 

Wooden Stairs 

Wooden stairs, on top of being hard like most stairs, also run the problem of being hollow. This means that each step is drummed through the house, and is sometimes accompanied by annoying creaking noises. The creaking only gets worse the more wooden stairs wear, which they are prone to over time.

QA’s CombiFelt Acoustic underlay made of extra-tough felt and rubber, is a good fit for wooden stairs because rubber’s density helps absorb sound and won’t crumble over time, whilst the felt provides the firm but plush feel under your carpet. The thick nature of rubber allows for cushioning of weight across the stair tread, which also means the stair’s life is prolonged. 

Tiled, Concrete or Stone Stairs

These types of stairs are hard. Unlike wooden stairs, these stairs tend to be much less hollow and a lot more durable. This means the condition of these stairs will typically be good regardless of how you treat them. That being said, these stairs are often uncomfortable on bare feet.

Rubber underlay softens the impact of the foot against the stairs. This means the stairs are much more comfortable than usual. Part of the reason why rubber is so good is that it’s not just comfortable, it’s strong – further enhancing the durability of stone/tile. 

Foam Underlay

Carpeted Stairs

Carpeted stairs are nice, soft and comfortable. But without any support, that comfort will soon fade, as the plush fibres of the carpet become worn and flattened by foot traffic. 

It’s due to this that PU foam makes such a good type of underlay for carpeted stairs. It not only supports the carpet fibres but creates a soft layer to help absorb the impact of foot traffic. This spares the carpet from quickly looking worn and ragged, whilst also further boosting the positives of Carpeted Stairs. 

Laminate Stairs

LVT or Laminate stairs have two major weaknesses. For one, whilst they can look great, they’re very noisy. The material has next to no sound absorption qualities, meaning the full noise of footsteps will be emitted from foot traffic. It can also be cold, having next to no ability to retain heat. This can be improved by choosing a product with a built-in underlayment.

It’s due to this that PE Foam Underlays are so useful for laminate, engineered wood or floating floor installation. PE Foam has great noise absorption qualities, with the closed-cell structure allowing the capture and dissipation of sound waves, making the floor much quieter. On top of this, PE Foam Underlays can offer layers of thermal insulation. It will make the stairs feel a lot warmer, as well as not allowing heat to be lost through the material. 

Felt-Rubber Underlay

Felt underlays are often chosen for their high level of comfort and good sound absorption qualities. That being said, they do not have quite as much durability as combination felt rubber or foam options. 

Vintage Architecture

If you have carpet on some old vintage wooden stairs, for example, you will deal with a lot of the problems that older types of stairs will exhibit. Such as high levels of wear and tear and natural creaks. 

Combination Felt-Rubber is a good type of carpet underlay for these types of stairs because it provides a great deal of comfort and sound insulation, whilst not taking away from the vintage feel of the staircase.

Low-Traffic Areas

In areas where foot traffic is less, the need for a highly durable underlay is also lessened. This allows you to take full advantage of the superior comfort without putting the architecture, underlayment, or even people, at risk in an area that may be susceptible to wear and tear. 

Combination Underlays

Combination underlays are a composite mix of several different materials. Usually, these materials are rubber and foam, though sometimes also felt. The general aim of combination underlays is to create flooring that is the best of all worlds. 

Mixed Material Stairs

These stairs, made up of several materials, will often come with unique challenges. They can be noisy, or uncomfortable, or slippery, or perhaps even cold. 

Just like how the issue of mixed materials stairs is multifaceted, the solutions offered by combinations underlays are also like that. By trying to have the best of all worlds, you can usually find solutions for noise, comfort, durability and even insulation, though potentially to lesser degrees. They may be great in providing certain benefits, but less so in others, but they’ll bring a lot of great benefits your way, making them a great all-rounder option for mixed material stairs.

High Traffic Stairs

Stairs that are frequently used by people face the danger of progressive wear and tear. This means that the stairs are in demand of an underlay that is high in density and has great compression recovery. On top of that, it needs to be an underlay that is also fairly comfortable. 

Considering this, it’s best to have a combination underlay, one that can make the journey up the stairs that much more comfortable, whilst also being highly stable, such as QA’s CombiFelt Acoustic.

Best Underlay For Stairs Conclusion

We hope this helps you with your journey to understanding and making an informed decision on the type of underlayment you may want for your stairs. Why not look at our full range and use our Traffilay product finder to see if there’s an underlayment that’s better suited to your needs?

Take a look at our extensive range of underlays & accessories

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Take a look at our extensive range of underlays & accessories