Underlayment for laminate flooring is not a choice; it’s a must-to-do thing. The floor’s underlayment is as important as the floor itself. Underlayment is necessary for laminate flooring as it allows the laminate floor to expand and contract on the top of the subfloor properly. Underlayment allows the floor to float freely and provides stability and support. Moreover, underlayment ensures the locking system between the floor planks to support the sturdiest flooring.
What is Laminate Flooring Underlayment?
Laminate underlayment is a soft pad installed under the laminate flooring to help the laminate planks lay smoother. It connects the planks in a better way and provides a softer feel underfoot. Underlayment is either pre-attached with the laminate planks, or you have to add it separately under your laminate floor during installation.
Importance of Laminate Flooring Underlayment
Laminate flooring is a surface layer of two thin sheets constructed of fiberboard instead of solid hardwood or plywood. It is impossible to install laminate flooring over the imperfect and uneven surfaces; thus, underlayment is necessary in this case. The underlayment is not optional in fact, it is an essential supplement for laminate flooring.
Subfloors and underlayment are the two most important aspects of any flooring in both commercial and residential projects. For floor stability, the selection of the right underlayment is important and much more necessary than the flooring itself.
When Should You Install Underlayment?
You need to install underlayment in the following scenarios.
- You have to install underlayment for any laminate flooring that will be floating over the subfloor.
- Underlayment is necessary when the subfloor has minor imperfections.
- Underlayment absorbs sound, so installing it under flooring is better when you need sound absorption in the room.
- You will need underlayment for moisture protection, especially when installing the laminating floor over the cement subfloor.
When Should You Not Install Underlayment?
You shouldn’t install underlayment in the following conditions.
- When your laminate flooring has attached underlayment, you don’t need to put extra underlayment sheets.
- You shouldn’t install underlayment when your floor manufacturer recommends you not to install it.
- You can skip underlayment when you install vinyl flooring.
- Underlayment is not necessary when you have to install a floor that will be directly glued to the subfloor.
Choose Correct Underlayment
Underlayment is of different types depending upon its thickness. It will help if you choose the correct underlayment for your floor. The type of subfloor plays a major role in determining the type of underlayment. For example, for laminate flooring, you should opt for carpet underlayment as the thick layer of underlayment reduces the locking capacity, and it becomes hard for the floor to install. Generally, manufacturers recommend using 3mm thickness for underlayment. If you want to protect your floor from moisture, you can choose 6 mil vapor barrier underlayment. ECF is the only underlayment with a built-in 6 mil moisture barrier.
Installing underlayment is also easy as you have to measure the underlayment as per your floor requirements. Then cut it according to the measurements and lay down your padding or underlayment.
Underlayment for Laminate Flooring on Concrete
For the concrete subfloor, you will need an underlayment that will act as a moisture barrier to laminate flooring. Concrete subfloors are most likely to absorb moisture, so we need a moisture barrier in the form of underlayment. For this purpose, thin foam pad material made of polyethylene or polypropylene is best, which rolls out in sheets.
Underlayment for Laminate Flooring on Plywood
You will need a breathable foam-type underlayment to install laminate flooring on plywood. The normal choice in underlayment for plywood is a thin foam pad material that should be made up of polyethylene or polypropylene. It rolls out in sheets and is most suitable for plywood.
Underlayment for Laminate Wood Flooring
Underlayment for laminate or wood flooring is a must. You can opt for cork and foam underlayment for laminate wood flooring. You can choose between these two options according to your requirement. Cork underlayment has a good thickness and provides great sound protection. The foam underlayment, on the other hand, is cost-effective and works as a moisture barrier.
Underlayment for Laminate Flooring over Tile
If your tile floor has already installed underlayment beneath it, you don’t need to add extra underlayment. Moreover, if your tiles are not cracked and are even or flat, underlayment is not necessary. If the tile floor is cracked and uneven, adding underlayment is necessary before laminating flooring. Underlayment will also act as a moisture barrier which cracked tiles cannot. Any good vapor barrier underlayment is suitable for laminate flooring over tile.
Also Read: how to remove vinyl floor tiles?
Underlayment for Waterproof Laminate Flooring
Mostly waterproof laminate floor planks come with the attached underlayment. So, if your waterproof laminate flooring has attached padding or underlayment, you do not need to add an extra layer. But if waterproof laminate flooring doesn’t come with pre-attached underlayment, you have to add the one for insulation and durability of the floor. You can opt for any good cork and foam underlayment for your waterproof laminate flooring.
Underlayment is compulsory for laminate flooring as it provides support and stability to the floor. Moreover, it absorbs sounds and provides a softer feel to the laminate floor. I hope you find this article helpful in selecting the right underlayment for your floor.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do you need underlayment for laminate flooring with padding?
If your laminate flooring already has attached padding, you don’t have to install separate underlayment. The pads attached with laminate flooring eliminate the need for underlayment. If you still combine padding with underlayment, it will not only waste your money but also damages your laminate installation.
2. Do you need underlayment for laminate flooring over vinyl?
Vinyl flooring is designed with a base layer, so adding underlayment over it is pointless; that’s why most vinyl flooring does not require underlayment installation. The base layer of vinyl floors makes it durable and comfortable to walk on. You can add padding when installing laminate flooring over vinyl.
3. Do you need underlayment for laminate plank flooring?
Yes, underlayment is necessary for laminate plank flooring. Underlayment is a thin layer of foam material that makes your steps softer and absorbs sound while protecting the floor on top. If you do not add underlayment under laminate plank flooring, it will become wet, warped, and catch mildew quickly.