The foundation of a complete floor structure includes multiple layers, underlayment is one of them. Each layer increases the durability and strength of the floor. But when it comes to flooring underlayment, how it will benefit your floor?
According to the report of the European Environment Agency, more than 20 percent of the population in the entire world is facing a high level of noise disturbance. That is dangerous for their health.
Especially, people who are living near any heavy traffic area. However, underlayment is not the major solution. That will soundproof a house completely. But it will absorb sound waves coming from the floor.
But what are the other benefits of floor underlayment? That’s why you need to read this complete article. Because in this article I have explained everything about underlayment. Is it necessary for a hardwood floor or not?
Also, I have discussed the complete structure of the floor frame. That will help you know why underlayment is important.
Table of Contents
Understand Floor Structure
Floor underlayment is a part of a floor frame structure. That’s why you should understand the other parts also. So that you can know the function of each part.
1. Floor Joists
This is a horizontal structure. That transfers the weight to other vertical members. So that the strength of the floor will automatically improve. However, this is the base of modern houses. But this strategy is followed for a very long time.
Usually, floor joists are available in different types. So you can easily get the best one according to the floor. But this is the first layer of your house floor. So you need to be very careful while installing it.
Subfloor is a typical OSB or plywood layer which rests at the bottom of the floor. So it should be enough strong of about 19/32” to 11/8” thick. However, the subfloor can replace the underlayment.
But when it comes to durability and comfortability. Then this is great to use both of them in one place. Because floor joists themselves are unable to distribute weight until they don’t get any strong support at the top.
Now, the time comes to lay down an underlayment on the floor surface. However, this is a kind of visible floor covering. But the main purpose of underlayment is to provide better comfort, strength, durability, and strength.
That’s why it is usually made from different floor materials. But it depends on the structure of your house. So it can be made from hardwood or even soft foam. That’s why before having it you should consider what you need.
4. Floor Covering
This is the last layer which represents your floor at the final stage. It could be anything you want in your house. Mostly, tiles and laminated planks are the main choices. But you can also use others such as vinyl or carpet.
Make sure while having any floor covering it should have moisture and noise reduction properties. Because this is the main issues people find in their house. Also, they provide better durability and comfort.
What Is Flooring Underlayment
Underlayment is the waterproof or water-resistant sheet used beneath the commercial roofing materials. It absorbs the roughness or imperfections present in the underlying floor.
Furthermore, it gives extra support to the flooring material. On the other hand, laminate flooring is a thin flooring material, which is 12mm thick. It has been designed to give a polished look to the flooring system.
You can use the vinyl plank to do the flooring underlayment in the different areas of your house, including your rooms, living area, and kitchen. The laminate underlayment acts as a protective barrier between the subfloor and the laminate flooring of your house.
The thickness of the premium underlayment is 2 mm to 3mm thick that is made from rubber, cork, felt, or foam materials. There are two layers in the flooring underlayment that includes the cushioning layer, and the next one is the vapor resistant layer.
It acts as a barrier against moisture and mold growth. Adhesive tape is attached to the underlay, which easily connects with the underlay and the subflooring with no gaps.
Types of Underlayment
You are familiar with the different types of flooring and underlayment. There are different types of materials available for underlayment. The most common options available for you are as follows:
The most basic type of underlayment is the foam one. Foam underlay contains a thin layer of foam material, 1/8 inches thick. It acts as an excellent cushion between the subfloor and the vinyl, hardwood, and laminated flooring.
Still, the standard foam underlay is not suitable in high moisture areas. Combinations of the foam underlayment are expensive. On the other hand, it can work well with the OSB plywood subfloor in your house’s bathroom, kitchen, and basement.
Rubber is the versatile and easy to install choice the floor padding. One of the most efficient underlays for soundproofing is available in the market. Rubber can protect your laminate flooring from noise and molds.
The rubber underlayment is prepared using recycled rubber products. It is an eco-friendly alternative for you if you want to conserve the environment.
People use cork underlayment in their homes for soundproofing. Cork is a natural material that comes with density and bounce. It is efficient in handling the weight pressure without the issues of the original shape.
Cork underlayment is a good option, which provides insulation and natural antimicrobial capabilities. Still, cork is not the suitable underlay to place in the homes and work on it. You will find some imperfections between the underlay and subflooring.
4. Rubber Cork
Rubber cork underlay a dedicated solution to all the flooring solutions to keep the floor moisture-resistant and mold-free. It keeps its highest emphasis on higher density durability and mechanical strength.
The floor-mounted with the rubber cork is comfortable to walk and warm. It has 3x higher density in the underlay. Therefore, it eliminates the sound impact and air from the flooring.
You are looking for eco-friendly alternatives for the underlayment, then; felt is the best option for you. It is made using recycled fiber material. Felt underlayment is denser than the foam ones. They are good to increase the absorption capacity of the subflooring.
The felt underlay material is beneficial in improving the home insulation sound absorption and makes the floor more comfortable to walk on.
Certain brands offer the felt underlayment in the market, which has a built-in barrier that protects the floor from spills. It can be used with various floorings such as laminate, vinyl, and hardwood.
Which Underlayment Is Best For Your Floor?
The most common question that comes to the mind of people is which underlayment is suitable for their floor. We will make things easy for you by discussing different flooring options and underlay suitable for them.
Now, it will become easy for you to decide and choose the underlay material according to your floor type.
The combination of the rubber and cork is best for the underlay of the tiles flooring. It provides moisture-resistant and efficient soundproofing. Anyone is walking on the floor then; no sound will come out of it.
Cork and foam underlay are among the best options are available for vinyl flooring. You don’t worry about the stains and smell the cork, and foam protection is beneficial. Rubber and Rubber Cork are not suitable options for you for vinyl flooring. It can cause rubber staining on the floor.
3. Wood Carpet
Foam or rubbers are the possible options available for the underlay of the wooden carpet. It can absorb the sound and provide resistance from molds and moisture. These are the affordable options that come with various thicknesses available in them.
Foam turns out to be the favorite material for the laminate flooring. We would recommend that you prefer the foam underlay for your laminate floors in the house.
It will become an efficient moisture barrier when you find foam underlayment in your kitchen, basement, and bathroom. It can offer you proper sound absorption.
Benefits of Underlayment Beneath the Hardwood
We call underlayment as underlay sometimes. It is the material layer installed between the hardwood floor and subfloor system. You are planning to do the new wooden flooring in your budget.
Then, consider the benefits of the underlayment beneath the hardwood.
1. Sound Reduction
You are planning to install the hardwood flooring without the underlayment; it can become noisy while walking on it. Furthermore, you will hear the hollow clicking sound when anyone walks on the hardwood flooring with no underlayment.
They transfer and influence the noise. It happens when the two hard objects meet. Additionally, it can meet the scooting echo sound in the house. The child walking on such floors with force will seem like a baby elephant walking on it.
Some types of underlayment are useful for reducing daily life noises by absorbing their impact. It does not transfer it straight to the solid sub-flooring system.
2. Moisture Resistant
The average person wants to go for the hardwood flooring in their house to reduce the water damage. Moisture can cause the wood wrapping, crack, rot and weaken the entire structure. However, the maximum danger comes from beneath the house.
It penetrates from the floor surface, including the concrete slabs or wooden flooring systems. Underlayment is necessary for protecting your new wooden hardwood flooring.
Not all the underlayment is equipped with the moisture barrier or vapor. On the other hand, it will protect the hardwood floor from the moisture penetrating inside it and ruining its flooring.
3. Compression Resistant
There is a difference between the old cushioning pad and underlayment. It provides the benefit, which is resistance from the compression. Therefore, the compression-resistant benefits will extend the durability of your flooring.
4. Comfortable Surface
You walked on the concrete flooring for a long. You may feel the presence of the little cushion while walking on the floor. The hardwood floors are hard.
Furthermore, the subfloor is made of plywood, particleboard, or concrete. It makes the flooring system harder. Therefore, the underlayment is thin to create a comfortable surface for walking purposes.
It will remain gentle for your joints when you walk on such flooring.
5. Improve Structure Stability
The subflooring is unattached with hardwood, engineering wood, laminate, or vinyl plank. On the other hand, the intentional unattached flooring done between the flooring and subflooring is floating floor.
The installation method creates the space between the floor and the subfloor. It creates a space between the floor and subfloor that may cause the hardwood to shift from its position. There is nothing that is holding nothing.
The expansion and contraction of the wood happen due to humidity and temperature. Therefore, the underlayment installation will provide stability and improve the structure.
It will help keep the constant flooring stability to support it. Additionally, it will keep away the buckling or pulling away of the boards.
6. Subfloor Imperfection
Underlay does not fix the major issues that occur in the subfloors’ flooring systems. It includes cracks, protruding objects, or holes. Underlayment can smooth down the minor imperfection.
You have to keep in mind strengthening the sub-flooring system before starting with the underlayment on the hardwood. It would help if you wisely focused on the sub-flooring before putting any flooring on it.
7. Insulation Properties
Hard floors are cold as they absorb the cold from the subflooring system. Underlayment is the addition of the insulation between the new hardwoods flooring the subfloor at your home. It will keep the cold away by absorbing it.
The floorboards will look readily. Furthermore, much of this underlayment has been designed to remain compatible and radiant heating the systems. All these things will make your home warm by a few degrees.
Wrap Up On Is Underlayment Necessary For Hardwood Floors
Keep the underlayment for the hardwood floor thin as possible. Thick underlayment will pose problems since it will create an offset between the flooring materials and the room.
Your different rooms will have multiple flooring materials, which will not work well with the thick flooring. Transitions can happen in higher flooring levels in one room than in the other.
The rooms with the lower ceiling should have thin underlayment. It will not cause any problem due to the shortening height of space. It will become easy to move the appliances in the rooms as per your requirements.
FAQ: Should You Use Underlayment For Hardwood Floor
Using the underlayment for hardwood is quite a difficult thing. That’s why lots of people just like you have so many questions. That can be solved easily. So I have added some of the common questions in this article to provide appropriate answers.
Q1. What will happen when you don’t use underlayment?
Ans: The subfloor of your home is uneven. The laminate floor can move and shift with time. It does not get the underlay support on it.
However, the home flooring will become more prone to wear and tear with the absence of the underlayment. It will have less stability.
Then, you have to spend more out of your pocket to repair your flooring frequently. These are some of the consequences if you don’t use the underlay on your floors.
Q2. Which underlayment is good for the wooden flooring?
Ans: The combination of the cork and foam underlay is suitable for wooden flooring. Take the quantity of foam more than the cork in preparing the combination for the underlay of the wooden flooring in your house.
The combination is durable, which will provide the proper soundproofing and moisture resistance to the flooring system.
Q3. Why does hardwood flooring need underlayment?
Ans: The hardwood flooring needs underlayment to smooth the surface between the hard wood and subflooring. Therefore, it becomes easy for people to walk on it gently.
It will create an efficient moisture-resistant barrier to protect the flooring, making it durable for the long run.