A while back we addressed the basics of underlayment. I’d like to go into a bit more detail with this topic.
With most floor installations, you’ll hear the phrase ‘floor underlayment’ get tossed around. In layman’s terms, floor underlayment is a big roll of either carpet pad, foam or cork that is rolled out on a subfloor before installing carpet or hard surface flooring, such as vinyl planks or wood planks.
Underlayment is important for several reasons. First, it adds an additional layer to a subfloor in order to provide a smoother surface for the finish floor. Second, flooring underlayment adds extra cushion for flooring such as carpet and vinyl. Third, floor underlayment adds a sound barrier so that hard surface floors don’t create an echo with each step a person takes. Finally, underlayment acts as a moisture barrier by helping to prevent moisture from seeping up through the subfloor.
The most important thing to know about underlayment is that it can be harmful to your floors if you choose the wrong one. This particularly is the case for Click floors where they can concave downward at the seams and start coming apart over time if the floor and the underlayment don’t agree. For example, when using underlayment with LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile/Plank) Click flooring, it is necessary to use a high-density foam type of underlayment. Typically, these floor underlayments are specifically designed for LVT only. A soft underlayment (typically used for laminate or wood flooring) is likely to be detrimental to a vinyl Click floor and should always be avoided.
Another important thing to note is that while foam underlayment is not required for installation, they can solve a lot of problems at a reasonably low cost. Probably the #1 reason why they are used is to eliminate the hollow, clacking sounds that are often heard from walking on a floating floor. Sound reduction can be a huge obstacle for projects that require HOA approval and/or for units or rooms being occupied on above floors.
Another reason floor underlayment is used is for thermal insulation, and providing a softer feel when walking on a floating floor. I recently had a client tell me how happy she was to have the underlayment solely for the feel of the floor. She used underlayment in some areas of her home and not in others, and recognized a distinct difference when walking on them. She said that it felt better and more complete with the underlayment.
Keep in mind that floor underlayment isn’t a requirement. So, know that it is better not to use an underlayment than it is to use one that is the wrong kind.
If you have any questions about floor underlayment, I’m happy to look up the specs of any type to see that it is well suited for your particular floor install. Give me a call at 1-844-334-2877.