Customising Underlay for Flooring: Options and Considerations

May 10, 2023

Flooring underlay is a critical component of any flooring installation, as it serves as a foundation that provides support, insulation, and sound reduction. This article will explore the different customisation options available for underlay in Malaysia, such as thickness, density, materials, and colours. Additionally, it will provide guidance on how to choose the best underlay for specific flooring types and uses.


Section 1: Understanding the Importance of Underlay

Support and Stability 

The primary function of underlay is to provide support and stability to the flooring material. A quality underlay helps to even out minor imperfections in the subfloor, ensuring that the flooring remains level and stable over time. This stability is crucial in preventing premature wear and tear and extending the lifespan of the flooring material.


Insulation and Energy Efficiency 

Underlay acts as an insulating barrier between the subfloor and the flooring material. This insulation helps to regulate the indoor temperature, reducing energy costs and ensuring a comfortable living environment. Different underlay materials and thicknesses offer varying levels of insulation, which should be evaluated when selecting the best underlay for a particular application.


Noise Reduction

A key feature of underlay is its ability to reduce impact and airborne noise. This is particularly important in multi-storey buildings, where noise can easily travel between floors. Homeowners can enjoy a quieter and more peaceful living space by selecting an underlay with good acoustic properties.


Section 2: Customisation Options for Underlay


Underlay thickness varies depending on the material and desired performance characteristics. Thicker underlays generally provide better support, insulation, and sound reduction but may not be suitable for all flooring types. Common thicknesses range from 1mm to 10mm, with thicker options available for specialised applications.



Density refers to the mass of the underlay per unit volume. Higher-density underlays offer better support and sound reduction but may be more challenging to install and less comfortable underfoot. Density options typically range from 80 to 200 kg/m³, with higher densities recommended for heavy traffic areas and commercial applications.



There are several materials commonly used for underlay in Malaysia, each with its unique properties and benefits:

  • Foam: Foam underlay is lightweight, easy to install, and provides excellent cushioning and insulation. It is available in various densities and thicknesses to suit different applications.
  • Rubber: Rubber underlay offers superior support and sound reduction compared to foam underlay. It is particularly well-suited to heavy traffic areas, commercial applications, and installations over concrete subfloors.
  • Felt: Felt underlay is dense and durable, offering excellent support and sound reduction. It is particularly well-suited to use with carpet installations.



While the colour of underlay may not be a primary concern for most homeowners, it can be customised to match or contrast with the flooring material. This can be particularly useful for commercial applications, where branding and aesthetics may be more important.


Section 3: Choosing the Best Underlay for Specific Flooring Types and Uses

Hardwood Flooring 

For hardwood flooring installations, rubber underlay is recommended. This material provides excellent support and sound reduction while also helping to prevent moisture transfer from the subfloor. A thickness of 3mm to 6mm is typically suitable for most hardwood installations, depending on the project's specific requirements.


Laminate Flooring 

Laminate flooring requires an underlay with good support and moisture resistance. Foam underlay with a moisture barrier can be an ideal choice. A thickness of 1mm to 2mm is generally suitable for laminate installations.


Engineered Wood Flooring 

Engineered wood flooring benefits from an underlay with good support, insulation, and sound-reduction properties. Foam or rubber underlay is recommended, with a thickness of 2mm to 6mm, depending on the specific needs of the project.



Carpet installations require a dense, supportive underlay to provide comfort and extend the carpet's life. Felt or rubber underlay is well-suited for this purpose, with a thickness of 6mm to 10mm recommended for optimal performance.


Section 4: Considerations for Selecting the Best Underlay

Traffic and Usage 

The amount of traffic and usage a floor will experience should be a primary consideration when selecting an underlay. High-traffic areas and commercial applications may require a denser, more supportive underlay to withstand the increased wear and tear.


Subfloor Conditions 

The condition of the subfloor should also be considered when choosing an underlay. Concrete subfloors, for example, may require an underlay with a moisture barrier to prevent moisture migration into the flooring material. Additionally, any existing unevenness or imperfections in the subfloor should be addressed with an underlay that provides adequate support and levelling.


Acoustic Requirements 

Selecting an underlay with superior sound reduction properties is crucial in multi-storey buildings or spaces where noise reduction is a priority. Rubber underlays are known for their excellent acoustic performance and should be considered for such applications.



Budget constraints can also play a role in the selection of underlay. Foam underlays tend to be more affordable than rubber options but may not provide the same level of performance. Balancing the desired performance characteristics with the available budget is an essential part of the decision-making process.



By taking into account factors such as flooring type, usage, subfloor conditions, acoustic requirements, and budget, homeowners and builders can make informed decisions to ensure optimal performance and longevity of their flooring installations.