Underlayment is a vital addition to your laminate floor installation and serves many functions. Underlayment adds a level of comfort to laminate floors, provides soundproofing qualities, helps to protect the flooring from moisture, and helps to even out minor imperfections of the subfloor to ensure that your laminate flooring is installed on a perfectly level surface.
Here are some of the major types of underlayment you can expect to find most commonly associated with laminate and other types of wood flooring. Each has different characteristics and will add a specific benefit to your flooring project:
Standard Foam Underlayment
This is the most common type of laminate flooring underlayment available. It is a thin, foam padding usually measuring 1/8 inch thick, and is available in different roll sizes.
Since it is made without a built-in moisture barrier, this type of underlayment for laminate flooring is made for use in areas where minimal moisture is expected. However, it can be used in conjunction with a plastic sheet if moisture is expected in any capacity. Foam underlayment provides a minimal level of sound reduction and therefore should only be considered as entry-level for use with laminate flooring.
Combination underlayment is essentially the same as a standard foam underlayment for laminate flooring, but comes with a moisture barrier attached. This feature prevents moisture from seeping into your laminate from underneath, so it can be installed in areas where higher levels of moisture are expected, such as basements. Its thickness is the same as a standard foam underlayment and sold in various-size rolls.
Acoustical/Sound Dampening Underlayment
This type of laminate flooring underlayment is used to reduce the hollow sound that is often created when walking on a laminate floor. It is available in a variety of materials like cork and felt, and comes with a moisture barrier most of the time. Acoustical underlayment without a moisture barrier attached should be installed together with a moisture barrier placed directly over the subfloor.
Vinyl backed underlay is a practical option for laminate flooring installations because it comes in an easy-to-install tile form. It lays flat during installation and provides noise-proofing qualities. The seams must be sealed, though, if moisture-proofing is a priority.
For any project, it is best to ask the opinion of experts who can help you make the best choice for your home or office. Talk with a knowledgeable BuildDirect product expert for more advice on the best laminate flooring underlay to use in your installation.