One crucial aspect to consider when choosing an underlay is the type of sub-floor where you’ll be installing the laminate flooring. Basically, a sub-floor is comprised of plywood, wooden or a concrete base. An essential component of laminate flooring installation is the underlayment. Laid directly over a sub-floor, the underlayment forms the layer between the laminate flooring and the sub-floor and it has several functions: It serves to aid in thermal insulation, it’s a protective layer against moisture, it helps muffle any sounds that travel through the floor beneath and it levels uneven surfaces plus covers flaws on the sub-floor. Underlayment types come in many varieties, some of which are;


Thermal Insulation

Some kinds of underlayment come with special thermal insulating features that might be comprised of polystyrene or foil materials which reflect heat thereby preventing it from escaping through the floor.

Opting for an underlay with a high R-value [ability to resist thermal conductivity] indicates a superior rating. Thermal insulation underlays of superior quality will keep you warm and toasty and maintain indoor temperatures while also saving on energy costs.


Moisture Barrier

An underlayment which has a damp proof membrane or an attached moisture barrier is required to be added as a separate layer for a ground level concrete sub-floor. Because of the porous nature of concrete, ground water might breach the floor causing damage due to warping, mildew and mold.

The moisture barrier underlay protects the laminate flooring from moisture that might seep through the concrete substrate.

Film underlayment and combination foam have a built-in layer of a vapor barrier which is ideal for plywood or concrete substrates as well as areas with high moisture levels such as bathrooms and basements. A plastic sheet moisture barrier can also be laid beneath a standard foam underlay.


Sound Reduction

Using a reducing or noise blocking underlayment with laminate flooring on upper floors reduces footfall sound and other noises that are transmitted to the rooms beneath. It is also quite useful in a home office, bedrooms or where quiet environments are desired. Acoustic underlayment offers an assortment of hard or soft modules, usually with a built-in moisture barrier without which an extra layer of moisture barrier might be necessary over the sub-floor for areas that are damp-prone.


Soft laminate flooring variations include rubber, cork, foam, felt and fibre

  • Rubber is typically made of recycled materials like shredded and compacted car tires and has noise-proofing qualities.
  • Cork has a high quality of sound absorption and anti-microbial qualities, though it’s more costly an option.
  • Acoustic foam underlayment is an effective blocker for minimizing sounds carrying through to lower floors.
  • Modified/upgraded underlayment consists of more densely packed, thicker materials than standard foam.


Hard laminate flooring versions are made of recycled wood or plywood

  • Acoustic underlayment made from recycled wood is a great for inhibiting sound. However, its thickness might present height concerns.
  • Typical AC grade plywood offers a moderate noise blocking rating.


Used With Under Floor Heating

Adequate heat resistance against the under floor heating system is crucial for it ensures the heat flowing through is not restricted. A vital aspect factor to consider is its “tog rating” [capacity to transfer or insulate heat]. When the total tog rating of laminate flooring and underlay is computed, it emerges that a lower tog value has a better overall performance.

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