After purchasing your laminate planks for your home, the next step is installation. To make sure your laminate flooring feels comfortable underfoot and does not get damaged by the subfloor, you’ll need to place an underlayment first.
An underlayment is a thin pad made from polyethylene/polypropylene laid on the subfloor before installing your laminate flooring.
Laminate flooring has been widely used by many homeowners in recent years because it looks and feels good under the feet, has almost the qualities of hardwood flooring, and comes at a cheaper price
Many manufacturers in recent make the laminates attached to the underlayment however, some laminates don’t come with underlayment. You have to know the best underlayment to choose for your laminate flooring.
Qualities of a Good Underlayment:
I recently changed the floor in my dad’s old house and definitely I choose laminate flooring because I still wanted to maintain the classic look of our old house.
Before I had no idea there were different materials used for underlayment. Luckily, my supplier was good enough to explain them to me and gave me some ideas on what a good underlayment should be like.
According to many suppliers, a good underlayment should have the following qualities:
- Act as a water barrier between the subfloor and your laminate flooring. It should protect your floor from moisture
- Act as a good insulation material. Should protect your floor from being too cold during winter.
- be easy to install
- Add a level of comfort to your laminate flooring.
- Have good soundproofing qualities
From the above, I narrowed it down to foam and cork. They are the most commonly used underlayment materials, so it was not hard for me to figure that out because they act as a moisture barrier and make sure your floor is not cold.
Foam and Cork are the best because these properties appear to them naturally unlike others that are manufactured to attain these properties
So why do you need an Underlayment for Laminate Flooring?
Unlike other floors, laminate flooring is a floating floor. Floating floors mean that the floor is not nailed or glued down to the subfloor. To avoid friction between the laminate planks and the subfloor, you need a cushion for protection. In this case, an underlayment.
An underlayment has to be laid first to provide a good, smooth surface for the laminate to float.
Which Underlayment should I use for my Laminate Flooring?
The following factors will determine the underlayment you use for your laminate flooring-
- The type of subfloor
- The environment you’re in.
- The purpose/the usage of the room.
1. The Type of Subfloor
Laminate flooring is greatly affected by water. For floors that are porous; for example, concrete, you will need to use an underlayment that is waterproof or rather an underlayment that acts as a water barrier.
This is because, concrete will allow water to seep up and without a water barrier, the moisture will weaken the joints on your laminate planks and damage your floor.
Also, when moisture sits for too long under your laminate flooring, you will start experiencing mold and mildew.
A good underlayment material that acts as a water barrier is a polyethylene. It comes in sheets that you roll out and lay on your subfloor.
In case you are installing your laminate flooring on a plywood subfloor; you will need to use an underlayment material that is breathable.
Naturally wood is a material that needs to breathe. Using an underlayment with a water barrier may trap moisture under your subfloor which will only cause damage
2. The Environment you’re in
Living in cold areas, you do not want to step on a cold floor. In this case, you should choose an underlayment with a high R-value. The higher the R-value of your underlayment the warmer your floor feels in winter.
R-Value refers to the heat conductivity of your underlayment.
3. The purpose/The Usage of the Room
A commonly repeated mistake, mostly in areas that are of heavy traffic like the living room, is using a thick soft underlayment or a carpet in order to absorb the weight and feel comfortable while walking on it.
This will however flex your laminate and weaken the joints.
A good underlayment is Thin and does not allow movement of your laminate flooring.
Types of Laminate Flooring Underlayments
Underlayments will come in different types, they will differ in design, price, mode of application, etc.
Below are the three general classifications of underlayments.
- Standard Foam underlayment.
- Sound-dampening underlayments.
- Combination Underlayment
1. Standard Foam Underlayment
This is the widely used form of underlayment.
It is made of thin foam padding which acts as a cushion between your subfloor and the laminate flooring. Usually, around 1/8 inch and comes in rolls of different sizes and lengths.
Standard Foam Underlayment is suitable in areas where you expect less or no moisture at all, as it does not act as a water barrier. However, if need be, you can combine it with polythene to make it waterproof.
2. Sound Dampening Underlayment
This type of underlayment is usually made from cork. Basically, it cancels out the noise produced when walking on laminate flooring.
It is ideal in places where noise cancellation is essential. This type of underlayment is not moisture-resistant and if you want to use it in wet areas, you can lay polythene under it.
3. Combination Underlayment
This type of underlayment, as the name suggests, it combines standard foam underlayment with a moisture barrier. This type of underlayment prevents moisture damage to your laminate flooring through rising dampness.
It is slightly expensive compared to standard foam underlayment, but, the good thing is it can be laid almost anywhere. From bathrooms, and basements to living rooms and can be used with many floors from plywood to concrete subfloors.
Now that you know the different types of laminate flooring underlayments and where to use them according to their structure, below is a list of the top brands from which you can choose.
The Best Laminate Flooring Underlayments
There is a wide range of laminate flooring underlayment manufacturers, However, in this case, we focus on the best overall.
- Combat Plus 3 mm High-Quality Underlay.
- Floor lot: Blue Laminate & Wood Flooring Underlayment with vapor Barrier
- DMX-1 Step Air Gap Underlayment
- QEP-Cork Underlayment Roll
- Duralay Heat flow Laminate Underlay
- Traffic master Polythene Foam 2-in-1 Underlayment.
- Quiet walk underlayment with Sound and Moisture Barrier.
1. Combat Plus 3 mm High-Quality Underlay
It is 3 mm thick, has a noise reduction rating of 19db, and comes in a roll of 1mx15m long. It comes with an inbuilt water barrier and is suitable for floors that are prone to Fungi, such as concrete and wood.
Because of its water barrier feature, it will work perfectly for rooms that are unable to avoid water.
- It is lightweight and easy to handle.
- Excellent sound reduction: -makes it perfect for areas with heavy foot traffic.
- Chemical resistant
- 100% recyclable
2. Floor lot: Blue Laminate & Wood Flooring Underlayment with Vapor Barrier
Floorlot Blue is one of the best underlayments.
It comes with a built-in moisture barrier of around 0.04 mm thick, making it excellent for moisture protection. It comes with a peel-and-stick attached adhesive, making it easy to install.
It is suitable for not only laminate flooring but also a wide range of other floorings including hardwood, bamboo, and engineered hardwood flooring.
It acts as a noise reduction feature in floating floors in active households and hides imperfections on the subfloor.
- Built for comfort: smoothens out minor subfloor imperfections
- Easy to install: Comes with a peel-and-stick adhesive. There’s No Need for additional tape
- Noise reduction barrier:
- Moisture barrier
3. DMX-1 Step Air Gap Underlayment
It comes in a unique design of dimple-bump-like features, which makes it the ultimate underlayment in noise absorption.
These dimples allow air circulation beneath your laminate and allow trapped moisture to evaporate, eliminating molds and water-based problems.
It is also suitable for vinyl plank flooring and Engineered hardwood
DMX-1 is completely waterproof on both sides
- Dimples that enable air circulation beneath your laminate.
- Easy to install
- Noise absorption
- Moisture barrier
- Thermal barrier
4. QEP-Cork Underlayment Roll
Not only is it just a good choice for an underlayment, but QEP-Cork is also a healthy choice. It is naturally hypoallergenic and contributes to creating healthy indoor air quality.
It is a great sound barrier and can be used for almost all types of floors. It reduces sound transmission to the subfloor and protects it from cracks that may be caused by the transmission of stress. Furthermore, it also reduces thermal transmission.
It is suitable for use on ceramic tiles, stone, marble, and engineered hardwood flooring. For best installations, experts recommend using ROBERTS Cork adhesives & ROBERTS seam tape for the edges and the joineries.
- Easy to install
- Reduces noise transmission
- Moisture barrier
- Reduces thermal transmission.
- Environmentally friendly
72000Q – 1/4″ (6 mm) Natural Cork Roll – 200 sq. ft. roll, 48″ x 50′
72003Q – 1/4″ (6 mm) Natural Cork Roll – 100 sq. ft. roll, 48″ x 25’
72008Q – 1/8″ (3 mm) Natural Cork Roll – 200 sq. ft. roll, 48″ x 50’
5. Duralay Heat flow Laminate Underlay
If you’re looking for an underlayment that will create a warm feel throughout your home, then this is the ideal choice.
It not only ensures your floor is warm but also makes your floor last longer. Duralay heat flow laminate underlay is heavyweight spongy and carpet-like, this feature enables it to reduce impact noise caused by heavy traffic and enhances the appearance of your flooring.
It weighs, 2407g/m2 and comes in a roll size of 1.37 mx11 m long with a thickness of 2.75 mm. It has a low tog rating of 0.33 which allows warmth generated by the underfloor heating to be transmitted quickly in the room and an impact sound reduction of 21db.
6. Traffic master Polythene Foam 2-in-1 Underlayment
When looking for a cheaper underlayment without compromising quality, then this is ideal for you. It costs somewhere about 30 cents a square foot.
As the name suggests, it serves two purposes. It provides cushioning and comes with a water barrier.
It comes with tape for aid in installation, but there have been complaints that the adhesive is not up to par. You might need to get extra adhesives for this one.
7. Quiet walk underlayment with Sound and Moisture Barrier
This is the best laminate flooring underlayment for noise reduction.
It is suitable for use with laminate flooring, engineered flooring, vinyl planks from 5 mm thick, and any other floating floors.
It can be installed over wood and concrete subfloors
- Superior Sound Reduction
- Moisture protection assured
- Easy to install: roll out and join the seam
- It has no VOC(volatile organic compounds) it is safe for indoor use.
- Compression resistant.