A guide to choosing the ideal carpet backing

Selecting the perfect carpet for your space involves more than just choosing the right colour or texture. The quality of a carpet is heavily influenced by its backing or underlay. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the world of carpet backing, highlighting its significance and providing key considerations to help you make the best choice.


A carpet consists of various layers contributing to its overall durability and comfort. Understanding the basics sets the stage for a well-informed carpet selection.

A tufted carpet typically includes the following layers:

  • Face yarn: The visible, top part of the carpet, influencing its appearance and texture.
  • Primary backing: A woven or non-woven layer which secures the yarn tufts and ensures the dimensional stability of the carpet.
  • Precoat: A high-performance coating which ensures maximum tuft bind, ensuring all yarn tufts stay in place.
  • Strengthening compound: Often a liquid compound like latex which bonds the face of the carpet and the secondary backing together for superior strength.
  • Secondary backing: Reinforces the carpet, enhancing durability, often serving as a cushion layer for added comfort and sound insulation.


It's important to distinguish between a carpet’s secondary backing and carpet underlay. While a backing is part of the carpet itself, an underlay or padding is a separate layer installed beneath the carpet for added comfort and insulation. Knowing when to opt for an underlay is essential. If your carpet already has a thicker felt or cushion backing, an underlay probably isn’t necessary. However, if your carpet has a thin textile backing, an underlay can provide anti-slip properties, extra cushioning, and sound insulation.


While the surface of the carpet often takes centre stage, the backing plays a crucial role in providing stability, enhancing durability, and influencing the carpet's ability to withstand daily wear and tear. Similar to a house needing a solid foundation, a carpet without decent backing would lose its shape and integrity over time.

In essence, a carpet backing helps determine the following:

  • Dimensional stability: Ensures the carpet maintains its shape and structure over time.
  • Durability: Absorbs shocks, resisting wear and tear and extending the lifespan of your carpet.
  • Comfort: Contributes to underfoot cushioning and softness for an enhanced walking experience.
  • Acoustics: Helps absorb sound and reduces noise in adjacent spaces for a quieter environment.
  • Insulation: Improves the ambient temperature by insulating the floor and reducing heat loss.


When visiting various shops or manufacturers, you'll likely encounter a variety of carpets with integrated backings or underlays, differing in price, performance, and environmental impact.

Here are some key focus points to consider:

  • Material: Common options include woven polypropylene and felt, typically made from polyester, or a polyester/polypropylene blend. Felt, renowned for its comfort and excellent acoustic properties, adds a touch of luxury. Polypropylene offers enhanced dimensional stability and easy replacement or removal without fibres adhering to the floor.
  • Thickness: Select a backing or underlay with sufficient thickness to provide adequate support and cushioning. Thicker and denser options enhance acoustic and insulation properties, ensuring a more comfortable and energy-efficient space.
  • Environmental impact: Look for eco-friendly options that are made with recycled materials, prioritising sustainability and recyclability.
  • Compatibility with underfloor heating: Ensure compatibility with underfloor heating by checking the total thermal resistance of the carpet and optional underlay. Keeping the combined R-value below 0.25 (or 2.5 TOG) prevents excessive heat retention, ensuring an efficient heating system. The thermal resistance rating can be found on the manufacturer's technical datasheet.


By understanding the nuances of carpet backing, you empower yourself to make informed choices that go beyond aesthetics. Consider these key factors to ensure your carpet not only looks great but also stands the test of time in terms of durability, comfort, and environmental responsibility.

Questions or concerns?

We're here to help you navigate the world of carpet backing.