08.05.18 Advice

Do You Need Underlay for Laminate Flooring

Written by: Yarl Christie

The need for an underlay for your flooring can very well influence your decision to buy a laminate floor, especially given the expensive cost of an underlay. An underlay is important for many good reasons. Here are the situations when you will need underlay for your laminate floor.

Your Laminate Floor has no Pre-Attached Underlayment

Many modern laminate floors come with a layer of underlayment attached to them. In such cases, an extra underlayment is not necessary. In fact, adding an underlayment in such cases can adversely impact the stability of the floor.

Your Subfloor is Not Flat and Strong

A subfloor needs to be flat and sound to take your laminate flooring. If the subfloor lacks these features, an underlayment helps cover these flaws and give you a stable laminate floor underfoot.

If you install a laminate floor without underlayment on a weak or uneven subfloor, it can damage the laminate floor and create safety hazards.

You are Using a Concrete Subfloor

Using an underlayment over a concrete subfloor makes the laminate floor soft and comfortable underfoot. The absence of an underlayment in such cases can make your floor a nightmare to walk on.

Your Subfloor is not Vinyl

When installed perfectly, a vinyl subfloor is waterproof. If you are installing your laminate floor on a vinyl floor, an underlayment is not necessary.

You want a Silent Floor

Laminate floor is very thin, given that it is made of fibreboard. Therefore, it cannot absorb sound as efficiently as solid hardwood does. But, an underlayment creates a sort of padding to the floor, which boosts the floor’s sound absorption abilities.

So, whether you are looking to create a quieter ambience at the office or looking to reduce the sound impact of mischievous kids and pets in your home, a laminate floor with an underlayment can work wonders.

Your Floor Needs Moisture Protection

If you are using a subfloor that is not resistant to moisture, say a subfloor of wood, cement or concrete, a moisture-resistant underlayment becomes important. An underlayment is also extremely important if you are installing the laminate floor in a crawlspace or rooms where there is no automated climate control.

When an underlayment is not used in such situations, the moisture can move upward, into your laminate flooring, and damage it structurally.

Do not let the expensive cost of an underlay deter you from using one for your laminate floor. An underlay extends the life of your floor in the long-run providing best value for your investment.

Choosing the Right Underlay for Laminate Flooring

An underlay is a thin sheet of sturdy material that’s installed on the subfloor to function as a base layer for the laminate floor. Although the subfloor offers fundamental support to the room, the underlay acts the foundation for the floor. It helps improve and protect the flooring and performs several functions. It helps level the subfloor, lowers sound transference, provides a layer of cushion to the laminate floor and also enhances the R-value of a floor.

It is important to choose the right underlay as it has a profound impact on your laminate floor’s feel and how the floor wears. Here are some tips to help you choose the right underlay for laminate floors.

Type of Subfloor

If you are installing laminate over a concrete subfloor, moisture is the prime consideration. Concrete is highly porous and allows water to seep through to your floor. As a result, the adhesive may loosen up, and mould may develop in due course. Pick an underlay that creates a vapour barrier thereby preventing moisture from entering the laminate floor. Combination foam underlay is perfect in such cases.

If you are installing laminate over a plywood subfloor, you don’t want to install an underlay that acts as a vapour barrier. Being a natural material, wood needs to breathe. A standard foam underlay is ideal for plywood subfloors.

R-Value

The R-Value indicates the heat conductivity of a specific material. An underlay with a higher R-Value offers a higher level of insulation as compared to an underlay with a lower R-value. During winters, an underlay with a high R-value ensures that the floor is warm underfoot.

Sound Reduction

Some underlay varieties can prevent noise from travelling to the floor. Sound insulation is an important requirement in certain spaces where silence is crucial or in bedrooms where you want to create a peaceful environment. If sound insulation properties are important in a room, a cork underlay is ideal. However, if comfort and cushioning is a prime consideration, then opt for a standard underlay.

Anti-Microbial

Certain underlay materials offer anti-microbial properties that ensure that your laminate floor stays healthy. Cork underlay is perfectly suited when you anti-microbial properties are an important requirement.

In Conclusion

These days, several laminates come with built in padding on the underside. If you are purchasing such laminates, you won’t have to buy underlay separately. So check with your flooring supplier whether you need to buy underlay for the laminate floor you have purchased.

No matter what type of underlay you choose, Stories Flooring offers a wide range of options. Explore our flooring store today to order the right underlay for your laminate floor.