Discover everything you need to know about underlay for wooden floors.

Written by: Yarl Christie

Published on: March 02, 2022

Is Underlay Needed for Wooden Flooring?

When installing certain types of flooring, underlay is often required. If used correctly, it can deliver a lot of great benefits for both you and your new floor. However, is it something that is actually needed for wooden flooring?

This is a common question our customers ask when they are installing wooden flooring in the home. In this new post, we’ll reveal everything you need to know about underlay for wooden floors.

Does Solid Wood Flooring Need Underlay?

Solid wood flooring is hardwearing and stable underfoot. However, it is also easily damaged by frequent changes in moisture and temperature. This means, while underlay isn’t necessarily required during installation, it could help to protect the floor if you are fitting it over concrete.

Underlay can be installed with solid wood flooring

If the subfloor is prone to moisture, make sure you invest in an underlay with a built-in moisture barrier. This will help to protect your wooden floor, while also boosting its comfort underfoot.

The main reason solid wood floors don’t necessarily need underlay is that they are secured directly to the subfloor. They are typically nailed down, which means they won’t move when exposed to changes in temperature. This means they don’t require any additional stability as floating floors do. You can read more about how to install solid wood flooring here.

Does Engineered Wood Flooring Need Underlay?

Like solid wood floors, engineered wood floors don’t always require an underlay. However, if you plan to install engineered wood flooring using a floating floor method, you might want to install underlay for added stability.

Engineered wood isn’t as impacted by changes in moisture and temperature as solid wood. It, therefore, doesn’t need to be nailed down. However, please remember to acclimatise your planks properly prior to installation. Most homeowners install these floors using the floating floor method, which is quick and easy to achieve. Without underlay, you may find that the floor creates a lot of noise. If the subfloor isn’t even, it could also lead to issues with the stability of the floor.

Installing underlay with engineered wood flooring

Also, while engineered wood floors are more water-resistant than solid wood floors, they will become damaged if exposed to consistent moisture. This means you will need to install a moisture barrier underlay if required. Read more about the difference between engineered wood flooring and solid wood flooring here.

Why Choose to Install Underlay?

Although underlay isn’t absolutely required when installing wooden flooring, it does provide some benefits you might want to consider. The top reasons for installing underlay with wooden flooring include:

1. Improved sound reduction

One of the main reasons people choose to install underlay with wooden flooring is because of its sound reduction benefits. Wooden floors can cause an echoing sound as you walk on them. This largely occurs when you install a floating floor.

Underlay helps to absorb the sound between the floor and subfloor, resulting in a much quieter finish. If you are using the floating floor method in a high-traffic area, you’ll find this feature particularly useful.

2. Better insulation

As well as helping to reduce noise, underlay can also provide excellent insulation. It is no secret that wooden floors can be cold to walk on, especially during the winter. If this is a concern, you can invest in an underlay that prioritises insulation.

3. Stability for floating floors

Floating floors are fast and easy to install, but they don’t provide the same level of stability as a more secured method like gluing them down. There is a gap between the floor and the subfloor which means that it doesn’t have the same level of support. Over time, this can lead to potential damage to the floor. Installing an underlay can provide additional support, while also minimising noise.

4. Additional comfort

While solid wood floors tend to be comfortable to walk on alone, engineered wood floors aren’t typically secured down. This means they may not be as comfortable as they could be if the subfloor isn’t even. Underlay can help to remove the instabilities, boosting the floor’s comfort underfoot.

5. It can extend the lifespan of your floor

Did you know that underlay can also potentially extend the lifespan of your floor? It essentially acts as a protective barrier, absorbing the shocks from footsteps. While it may not make a huge difference to the lifespan of the floor, anything that helps you get more for your money is a great investment.

At Stories Flooring, we sell underlay for all types of flooring, including wooden floors. Shop the full range now and get top branded underlay at up to 65% off RRP.

You can browse our engineered wood range and our solid wood flooring range here. If you need any advice then do call us on 01133 200 223 to speak to one of our experts.

About The Author

Yarl Christie

Yarl is the Managing Director of Stories Flooring. started his career in the flooring industry by becoming a floor fitter at the age of 18 (2004). Yarl finally decided to move with the times and set up an online flooring store (Flooring Yorkshire, 2018). He works closely with the business managers and resource team to source new products from wholesalers, which in turn brings down the sale price. This enables Stories Flooring to be one of the leading UK flooring retailers.