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Materials vs Performance

The advantages of cork in an underlay and the impact on its performance

Every floor needs its underlay

We are often asked if it is necessary to use another product underneath flooring. The answer is every floor needs an underlay. An underlay can really make a significant difference to a flooring system. So we think it's a MUST-have solution. The underlay plays a crucial role in the final floor solution. A proper underlay not only provides stability and increases the longevity of the floor, but also adds extra comfort for living.


Materials used in manufacturing underlays

Today, there are many options when it comes to choosing the right underlay materials. From natural substances such as cork to rubber, PE foams (non-cross linked/cross linked), PP foams, XPS, PUR, PUM, etc., selecting the right material will give your floor more longevity!


Here is a brief comparison of the performance of different materials used as underlay solutions.


Cork is a 100% natural material that has a honeycomb-like structure of microscopic cells filled with an air-like gas and coated mainly with suberin and lignin. One cubic centimetre of cork contains about 40 million cells. It has a closed-cell structure, making it lightweight, airtight and watertight.

Cork is an amazingly versatile material and, when combined with many other composites, it delivers great benefits in all flooring installations.

Please see the table below to explore the benefits of adding cork to other materials.

The improvements in acoustic and thermal insulation are enormous, but that's not all! Mixing cork with other composites also increases floor longevity because of increased compressibility of the material and its ability to recover. As a result, the floor has extra underlying protection when subjected to loads.



  • Acoustics

    The capacity of an underlay to reduce impact sound is one of its most desirable features. Thanks to its sound-dampening properties, cork helps to reduce the sound of footfalls in rooms and hallways, as well as other ambient noises, making it a great addition to underlay composition. It's important to be aware that impact sound insulation is always measured for the entire floor system and not only for the underlay alone.

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  • Thermal insulation

    In contrast to impact sound, thermal insulation is the capacity of the material to resist cold or heat. By increasing the thickness of the underlay, the thermal resistance also increases. Cork acts as a natural insulation in spaces where underlays are installed because of its ability to maintain the temperature inside a room.

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  • Levelling the floor

    Choosing the appropriate levelling solution is essential to sub-floor preparation. A level subfloor is a basic requirement for almost any type of floor covering. Any discrepancies of less than 2 mm are levelled easily with the right underlay. Underlays composed of cork and rubber, for example, accommodate small grains of screed, creating a flat surface for laying the floor covering.

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