Underlay and acoustic flooring - underlay4u

THE underlay manufacturing process is built on a rich foundation of British heritage and many of the brands we see today still produce their products right here in the UK. What’s more, many are being made from recycled materials.

But how has innovation been so important to the UK over the years? And based on this change where is innovation going?

It goes unnoticed to most, but innovation has played a key part in providing flooring suppliers with products that truly meet the needs of their customers.

From heavy rubber to lightweight underlay for floating floors. Even innovative, low tog materials for underfloor heating.

Let’s look at the history and competition that’s driven innovation in the UK market.

First introduction of flooring and underlay
In the 1800s, when carpet was unheard of, woven jute began to make an entrance in the floor covering and furnishing industry.

It took a while and wasn’t until the ‘40s, wall-to-wall carpet was introduced. Following this, the crumb-rubber underlay was born. It went by the brand name of Duralay. It started off as a difficult sell because people didn’t want to buy both carpet and underlay. What were the benefits of this rubber?

There was an ambitious attempt to promote the benefits. Benefits that included, protection to the carpet from the sub floor and increased comfort around the home.

Those global ambitions to spread the word about the benefits of underlay still live on today. And are constantly echoed by the manufacturer’s customers, who then supply direct to consumers. There’s now hundreds of pages on the web about ‘Why you need to buy underlay’.

However, the opportunities were clearly rife, and other independent manufacturers wanted to jump on the band wagon. Enter the Tredaire rubber underlay.

This created a head-to-head battle to create innovative world class flooring systems.

The ‘80s and increased competition
Duralay’s innovation tactics helped it become Europe’s largest underlay manufacturer as domestic households flocked for comforting products in their home during the ‘80s. This brought huge benefits to the UK economy.

It was around this time sponge underlay, made from recycled materials such as foam from furniture. It was in its infancy, but popularity grew rapidly. This was partly in a bid to replace the heavy, sometimes difficult to work with, rubber or crumb rubber.

While Duralay and Tredaire were going head-to-head, there was another innovative pair who wanted entrance to the market. They went by the name of Martin Ball & Jim Young – or as most know it Ball & Young.

Their goal? To create hygienic, longer lasting comfort in the home. It wasn’t long before Cloud 9 was winning awards and fast becoming one of the largest selling underlays on the planet.

This rivalry played focus to other features and benefits such as high tog to keep warmth in, impact sound reduction and even high-density sponge that held high volumes of foot traffic.

Different thickness is now a key factor in deciding which product to purchase and place in the home.

The Millennium and beyond
In 2002, Tredaire and Duralay merged to create Interfloor. They both keep their own heritage – Tredaire is about luxury, while Duralay is about hardwearing and specialist products e.g. low tog rubber for underfloor heating.

Today, we’re seeing increased demand for underfloor heating and even artificial grass. To go with both of those, consumers are requiring innovative underlay products. The Cloud 9 Eco Cushion is just one product recommended for artificial turf.

There are now many brands and types of underlay producing goods in the UK for a rife market. However, with the flooring industry continuously changing, the goal will always be how and who can respond to customer needs best.

What’s more, over the past few years, the rise of the internet has seen a big price war between the B2C market offline and online. So, it may be these companies who need to look at their own strategies if they’re to continue adding value in other ways than just price.