Do I Need Underlayment For Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is one of the best choices as a floor cover for your home and office. But underlayment is preferable to use in laminate flooring for extra services. But why some additional cost?

Underlayment is a suitable installation for laminate flooring for providing stability to your floor. The key benefits of underlayment are sound absorption, moisture protection, resistance to compression, insulation, improved indoor air quality, microbial protection, and overcoming several minor imperfections.

If you use laminate flooring rather than tile, hardwood, or vinyl, you should install some underlayment, especially in moisture areas.

Do I Need Underlayment For Laminate Flooring

Is It Important To Install Underlayment?

It’s crucial to install underlayment if you have laminate flooring in your bedroom, living room, or home offices.

According to the experts, underlayment is the most essential aspect of every commercial and business flooring. It can take care of any minor deviation (only minor ones, because major deviations can’t be fixed with a subfloor) of the flooring. Underlayment also increases the acoustic performance of the laminate flooring. 

That’s why it’s important to have an underlayment or subfloor for stability and proper wear of laminate flooring. Make your floor installation successful by adding these improvements.

What Type Of Underlayment To Use In Laminate Flooring?

Underlayment is used as a cushion between the subfloor and the laminate flooring. Thanks to its variety of underlayment materials and ease of installation, a laminate floor can be installed on almost any surface. It’s a less expensive alternative to hardwood or tile while still providing the same beauty and durability. 

There are four basic types of underlayment that you can use: foam, rubber, cork, and felt. Here’s a basic overview of each type.

Foam

This medium is fairly new to the scene and has gained popularity due to its low cost and ease of installation.  It’s also waterproof.  Some people believe that this is a long-term solution since it can be glued down permanently. 

Rubber

This is the traditional underlayment for laminate flooring. It can be pricey but it is easy to install. Rubber also provides superior insulation and is water-resistant.  

Cork 

Cork has gotten popular due to its natural sound-absorption properties. It’s made from cork bark harvested from the cork oak tree. The material is also environmentally friendly, provides superior sound insulation between floors, and has good moisture resistance. 

Felt 

This is the most economical of all floor underlayment choices. It’s made from recycled fibers that are compressed into sheets or rolls. The drawback to felt is that it doesn’t provide much cushioning or insulation to laminate flooring.

What Are The Key Benefits of Underlayment?

Well, you have known the importance of underlayment. But what are the benefits that will persuade you to install subfloor or underlayment? 

Here are the advantages you will have:

Moisture Protection

You may wonder why you should worry about moisture when the laminate flooring has a separate layer of photographic applique, and the inner layer is made of fiber and resins.

So, when the outer layer cracks somehow, moisture will attack the inner fiber and start to warp. If you install an underlayment, it will work like a barrier to protect the fiber from moisture.

If you have a cement subfloor, you should worry about moisture. That’s because it has porous chambers. So, you will need an underlayment that has a vapor barrier to stop the moisture. The wood subfloor will provide less tension if you have installed it.

But if the floor is over the crawl space, it will attract moisture. So, you will need a 6-mil vapor barrier to block the crawl space.

Helps To Absorb Sound

How come some underlayment can absorb the sound? Sounds absurd? No, it’s not! 

All the underlayment contains foams that can easily absorb the incoming noise or block them from going to other rooms. It can also absorb the vibrations of pets, stereos, naughty kids coming from all directions. 

The laminate flooring is fragile. It doesn’t have the density or the thickness to limit the transmission coming from sounds. So, there will be so much noise compared to other floorings.

But if you install some underlayment, the additional layer will reduce the noise transmission.

Support Compression Resistance

When you step on your foot, the laminate or other floors will normally flex a bit. It’s because of the stress-loads due to the weight.

As the laminate flooring has thin layers, it flexes more than other floorings. But with underlayment installation, you will have some solid structural foundation added to your floor. It’s called compression resistance.

This can absorb and distribute the compression due to weight to larger areas. It also protects the click and clack mechanism of the floor and helps to hide some of the minor errors. 

So, you can have a soft feel while walking on the floor. That’s because it looks like walking on a solid surface or walking above some hollow floor.

Provide Insulation

Typically, we use insulation for the walls, windows, roofs, and doors of our houses. But it’s true that the floor also has a role in causing heat loss or gain.

You should know that the underlayment has some heat conducting value (R-value) that helps to improve the comfort under your feet. If the R-value of the specific underlayment stays from 0.5 to 0.6, it is acceptable to install under your laminate flooring.

In this range, you will get proper insulation from the underlayment, and the electric heater bills will also be lower as they absorb less heat. Your space will be more comfortable to stay in.

Indoor Air Quality Improves

You may not realize it first, but good quality underlayment improves the indoor air quality of your home.

When you install underlayment, you will notice an odor all over the place. Well, it comes from under your subfloor. Sometimes the smell is too harsh to endure. Therefore, it indicates the underlayment contains some bad chemical components.

If the odor doesn’t go away over time, you need to change the underlayment. Once it vanishes, your subfloor is okay to use. But a good quality underlayment can absorb bad smells so that the room stays protected.

Improve Minor Imperfections

When installing the laminate flooring for your home, you can’t log every piece perfectly into their places if you are not a professional.

The floor often exposes areas with grooves, splinters, nail holes, gaps, and pits. If you use solid wood, you can fix such imperfections pretty easily without any underlayment. The same goes for tile installation.

But the laminate flooring can withstand such imperfections, and they are much visible. That’s why some underlayments are used to fix or improve these minor imperfections. Though they can’t cure every error, they can fill almost all the small spots.

There are some alternatives for large depressions, but they are not as soft as the underlayment.

Anti-Microbial Protection

Standard underlayment doesn’t have such properties to protect against microbial infestations. However, there is some special underlayment that has anti-microbial protection features.

Typically, germs remain over the floor even if you swipe it with detergents or antiseptics. The underlayment with anti-microbial technology can get rid of the remaining germs and keep you protected.

However, you will notice some unusual odor because of it as they consist of some chemicals. But they are not unhealthy. So, if you want this feature, you can order one from any reputable company.

When Not To Install The Underlayment

Though the role of underlayment has great importance, there are some cases when you don’t need to install any of them. And you should know in which condition they are not necessary.

  • If you have pre-attached underlayment, you don’t need to spend some extra bucks for another. Though the pre-attached one won’t be as good as the separate one, its efficiency will be enough.
  • If you have cement flooring and vapor chambers, you don’t need to install another underlayment for moisture absorption.
  • If your laminate floorings are directly stapled or glued to the floor, you won’t need any underlayment. But if you want any, you need to unplug every single piece from the pretty tough subfloor.

Installing underlayment is pretty costly. If you don’t have any problem spending money behind it, you can nonetheless install underlayment on your floor.

More on FlooringWest

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Can You Caulk Around Vinyl Flooring

Bottom Line

Laminate flooring is a very delicate choice for renovating your home. But with underlayment, you can enjoy all the additional features without worrying about moisture, sounds, or insulation.

We guess you have got the answer to your question. If you don’t have the specific conditions of not installing underlayment, you can get it for your laminate flooring. Best of luck with your house renovation!

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