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Laminate Flooring Underlayment: Does It Really Matter?

Adding laminate flooring to your property is an affordable way to sharpen its appearance with a classic hardwood floor look. In addition, like any home improvement that’s visually stunning, laminate flooring can add substantial value to your home. Unfortunately, if you don’t take the time to install a protective underlayment, your investment will quickly go south.

Why Laminate Flooring Underlayment Matters

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While it may be tempting to skip out on an underlayment as a way to save cash, the reality is that underlayments really matter. Without an underlayment to support and protect your new floors, they could end up being a costly nuisance. By purchasing an underlayment now, however, you could save thousands of dollars in the long run.

Laminate Flooring

Despite its appearance, which closely resembles hardwood floors, laminate is rather different in its makeup. Instead of wood that comes from trees, laminate flooring is comprised of several different layers that are fused together under extremely high pressure. Often, the flooring includes a layer of high density fiber board as well as a protective coating. The top layer is a photographic simulation, which gives it a hardwood floor look.

Due to the manufacturing process that’s involved, laminate flooring is extremely durable. For example, it’s much more resistant to moisture and extreme temperatures than hardwood flooring.

Many laminate floors come with warranties that are significantly longer than ten years, and they’re expected to last several decades.

Laminate flooring typically comes in planks or tiles.

Some laminate floors come assigned with a specific rating, which tells buyers for which kind of environment and property they’re best suited. One of these is AC ratings. For example, an AC 1 rating means that the floors are ideal for a room with minimal traffic, like a bedroom. An AC 3 rating signifies that the floors are designed for a decent amount of traffic, like that you would find near the front door.

Underlayment Matters for Laminate FlooringAn AC 5 rating, on the other hand, lets customers know that the floors are built to withstand large amounts of traffic. Floors with this rating are ideal for busy places like commercial stores or shopping malls.

In addition, just like hardwood floors, laminate floors are extremely easy to clean because of their smooth surface, which doesn’t trap dirt and debris. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends that people with allergies live in homes with this style of flooring, instead of carpeting.

Another benefit that comes with laminate flooring is the price. Depending on the type you buy, laminate floors are typically cheaper per square foot than many domestic hardwood floor options. In comparison to exotic hardwood floors, like Brazilian Cherry or Mahogany, laminate floors is a much more affordable option.

You can learn more about the various types of laminate flooring by referring to websites like


Underlayment is a type of thin padding that’s installed under various types of floors, including those that are laminate. The underlayment, which is installed on top of a property’s subfloor, provides protection and support for the flooring above. Unlike some types of floors, which can amount to a substantial investment, several kinds of underlayment are relatively inexpensive.

Generally speaking, there are four types of underlayment: standard foam, combination foam, upgraded, and cork. Standard foam is the cheapest and usually comes in 1/8-inch thick rolls, but provides minimal protection. Combination foam is similar to standard; however, it comes equipped with a moisture barrier. Upgraded underlayment is typically made of thicker and denser materials like rubber or high density foam. As the name denotes, a cork underlayment is made of cork, which is stripped from trees.

Although most underlayments are thin and relatively easy to handle, if you don’t have much experience doing renovations, it’s a good idea to have it professionally installed. If you don’t install the underlayment correctly, your laminate floors could be damaged or even ruined. In fact, some floors require an underlayment to be correctly installed in order for the warranty to be valid.

Installing Underlayment Matters for Laminate Flooring

While the benefits that an underlayment provides may vary depending on the type, if you want to protect your laminate floors and utilize them effectively, installing an underlayment is a must.

Reduces Unwanted Noise

One of the major reasons to install an underlayment is because it can dramatically reduce noise. While your laminate floors will look great, and will give your property that hardwood look, you may find your house unbearably loud if you don’t install an underlayment.

One of the most common complaints people have about floating floors, which have nothing separating them from the subfloor below, is the thumping that’s caused by people walking across them.

Items being dropped or dragged across a floor without an underlayment can also produce bothersome noises to the people on the floor below.

If it’s a place of business that involves the use of heavy objects, the noise that could be generated could even prevent you from working. Even talking or playing music may seem louder to people underneath if no underlayment is installed.

Underlayment Matters for Jumping on Laminate FlooringAs a result, manufacturers like Silent Blue and FloorMuffler have designed underlayments that are specifically designed to prevent noise. These high quality and upgraded underlayments provide an effective acoustic barrier, so that people can go about their business without hearing or disrupting others.

Cork underlayments are another type of padding that are extremely effective in reducing noise. Underlayments that are made of cork are typically thicker than other types like standard foam, and are rather dense in nature. As a result, they are often used in apartment buildings or condominiums as way to minimize sound from travelling. Cork underlayments are also typically the most expensive.

You can learn more about the sustainable use of cork through various environmental and non-profit-organizations, such as Recork.

Provides a Moisture Barrier

Another key reason an underlayment matters is because they help protect your laminate floor from moisture. In particular, if your flooring on the ground level isn’t resting on an underlayment, then moisture from below could heavily damage your laminate flooring. If your floor gets wet or damp, it could begin to rot. Moisture can also cause mold that may pose health problems for people, particularly those with allergies.

Although not every type of underlayment comes with a moisture barrier, like standard foam for example, other kinds have a protective layer to keep the floor dry. Combination underlayments come equipped with an extra layer underneath to prevent moisture from reaching the floor. Other types of upgraded underlayments may also provide a moisture barrier. Due to the properties of cork, however, it is not ideal for situations where moisture could be an issue.

Even if you don’t live in an extremely wet or humid environment, installing an underlayment to protect your floors from moisture is wise.

Enhances Stability

Underlayments also matter because they provide laminate floors with the stability they need to last a long time. If the subfloor in your home or property is uneven, then your laminate floor could move and shift if it doesn’t have an underlayment for support. As a result, the floor will be more prone to wear-and-tear and could even warp. The more stability, the less likely you’ll have to pay out of pocket for costly repairs.

In addition, by installing an underlayment for your laminate flooring you’ll provide it with some much needed padding. If the subfloor is concrete or made of another hard substance, then the floor will need an underlayment to provide some much needed cushion. Laminate flooring will, of course, never be soft like carpet, but adding a layer of padding underneath could make a noticeable difference.

Protects Your Floor

In addition to providing an acoustic barrier, protecting it from moisture, and providing some stability, an underlayment will save your floors from the rough subfloor underneath. Unlike the polished and smooth surface of laminate flooring, most subfloors are coarse and uneven. If your floor’s tiles or planks are resting on this layer without any protection, they could quickly deteriorate.

Laminate Flooring Underlayment Protects

As people walk across the laminate flooring or move furniture on it, the floor will rub against the subfloor. Laminate flooring is already thin to begin with, so any extensive contact with a rough surface could quickly result in noticeable damage. The floor’s tile and planks could even chip or break if an underlayment isn’t installed.

Temperature Insulation

Yet another reason an underlayment matters for laminate flooring is its ability to insulate and regulate temperatures. By installing a layer of padding underneath your laminate floors, you’ll help prevent heat from escaping into the subfloors. It will also stop cold air rising from the room or ground below.

If you live in a region with extreme temperatures, then you could save some serious money on your heating or air conditioning bills by installing an underlayment. There are even underlayments on the market that are designed to heighten temperatures and reduce utility costs through radiant heating.

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