05.Underlay and classifications
- Underlay can extend the life of your carpet as well as absorb sound, cover minor imperfections in the floor and provide insulation.
- There are two main types of underlay — foam and rubber. Felt underlay is also still used for some woven carpets, but it’s becoming less common.
- Like carpet, underlay comes in many different qualities and grades.
- Underlay should be firm but comfortable. As a guide, if you stand on underlay you shouldn’t be able to feel the floor with the heel of your shoe.
- Ask your retailer to put a sample of the carpet you want over different underlays and walk on it so you can feel the difference.
- When you’re replacing your old carpet you should also replace your underlay. If the carpet is worn out, chances are the underlay is too.
The Carpet Institute of Australia has developed the Australian Carpet Classification Scheme (ACCS). It’s a voluntary industry labelling and grading system for carpets of all fibres and is used by all the major suppliers.
- An ACCS label gives the carpet a star-rating out of six for residential use and four for commercial or contract use, indicating how well it performed in a number of independently assessed wear and performance tests.
- The label also says whether it should be used in areas of light, medium, heavy or extra-heavy traffic.
- Check the label has a registration number to be sure it’s genuine.
- For residential high-traffic areas, such as entrance-ways, stairs and halls, it’s advisable to go for a heavy-duty carpet rating. Children’s playrooms also usually take a lot of punishment, so a highly durable carpet is worth considering there too.
- Carpets with an ACCS label carry a minimum statutory two-year warranty, though the manufacturer may also provide additional warranties.
- Wool carpets may also have a Woolmark or Fernmark label. These grading schemes are run by the Woolmark Company and Wools of New Zealand respectively and show that the carpet has met certain quality and durability standards.
ACCS label image: Courtsey Carpet Institute of Australia