The advertising segments in the hardwood segments put in a lot of effort to showcase their benefits to various customers and potential clients. But if you’re keen on flooring matters, then you must have noticed that the case isn’t the same when it comes to underlayment products. If anything, they don’t seem to attract much; at least from a distance point of view. But are they not that important? Of course not, underlayers are some of the essential components of any successful and beautifully finished flooring. So now that you know, you might as well want to know why it’s advantageous to have an underlay laminate flooring in your home. This article seeks to give you comprehensive coverage of the same, to enable you to make the best decision for your home upgrade plans. Keep reading!
What’s A Laminate Floor Underlayment?
It’s very easy to admire the texture, color, and beauty of a floor because that’s most definitely the first thing you are likely to notice when you walk into a room. But what’s kept away from your eyes is an equally important part that’s the floor underlayment. Commonly referred to as padding, an underlayment is a closed-cell foam of sheet that’s normally spongy. When you first purchase it, it comes in forms of rolls most probably for easy installation. So during flooring, a professional contractor rolls it up between the laminate flooring planks of your choice and of course the sub-floor.
However, some laminate flooring manufacturers deem it fit to attach a layer of underlayment on each piece of plank. And that’s an excellent consideration point when purchasing some as it would save you both time and money trying to purchase and install them separately. But if you’re unfortunate enough to come across beautiful laminates without one, then it’s important that you get them an underlayment. This isn’t an option but a must consideration for any serious homeowner who wants to gain only the best from their investment.
How Important is Laminate Flooring Underlayment?
We would say very important. And this is why;
For Below-Grade Installations; this is particularly more essential if you are planning on laminate flooring your concrete basement as a way of curbing the moist from reaching the surface of the floor. But for it to be efficient, you have to combine it with the use of a vapor barrier. You however easily come across this in the combination underlayments sections in most stores. The main essence behind this is to have a vapor trapper between the subfloor and the underlayment for better functionality.
Additionally, according to experts, any homeowner planning to install a laminate floor over concrete should consider using at least a 6 millimeters poly vapor barrier. And this also applies to those who are using already attached vapor barriers on their underlayment. Why? This article on laminate flooring underlay explains that because the installation process of underlayments is quite tedious, we cannot overrule the possibility of wear and tear. So this won’t guarantee the efficiency of the combined vapor barrier. Therefore, for your peace of mind and of course to be on a safer side, it’s better to add an extra layer. You might consider it costly, but at the end of the day, it will be worth the effort. After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, right?
Cushions Against Friction: As we all know, the nature of laminate flooring doesn’t involve any nailing or gluing down to the surface. Therefore, it’s vulnerable and delicate to any pressure caused by frequent movements or placement of heavy objects such as furniture. It’s for these reasons ( and much more) that experts recommend that it achieves a given level of floating effect, between the subfloor and the laminate to enhance its float-ability.
If you want, you can consider it as a form of expandable and contractible material that quickly and comfortably changes its form depending on the weather/temperature. So as you move around and push all kinds of stuff against/ all over the floor, having a quality underlayment ensures the effects of friction remains at a mere minimal. So through this, you get to save both your sub-floor and up-floor from unnecessary damages as they get a smooth flat floating surface.
For Thermal And Sound Reducing Effects: If you thought a floor underlayment only helps to straighten and smoothen the floor surface, then you’re far from the truth. They can also do an excellent task in fostering your thermal and sound reducing needs. However, if these needs are part of your primary focus, then you will have to forgo the combined/attached underlayment and choose them separately instead. When it comes to this, we highly recommend you shop for a quality laminate flooring separately and then work on purchasing a high-quality need-matching underlayment. This way, you can be sure to end up with perfect results.
When it comes to noise reduction, this mostly applies to individuals constructing or renovating condos, apartments or second floors in their homes. It is because of most associations about these kinds of buildings minimal sound reduction ratings. And there is no better, affordable and most efficient way to achieve this than through the use of an underlay. Yes, we can all agree that laminate floors are reasonably quiet, but sometimes you can barely control the amount of noise being caused or transferred from the underneath floor. It can be pretty loud and annoying especially when everyone else is trying to concentrate or relax after a hectic day.
However, to achieve minimal noise production, you also have to equip yourself with sufficient knowledge on how to choose the best noise-reduction underlay. Remember there are several in the marketplace, and like every other product, there has to be the best-rated and worst-rated. Conduct research and go through reviews to ensure your choice is perfect.
And when considering thermal or temperature insulation in your home, you cannot escape the thought of underlay laminate flooring. Remember, when you install a layer of padding underneath your laminate flooring, it gives it the ability to trap the heat. It means there will be no heat finding its way into the sub-floor. So your room will remain considerably warm to walk on even without socks/shoes. Also, with this, there will be no room for cool air from the ground below finding its way unto the upper-floor.
So if by any chance you live in a location with extreme temperatures, then you can be sure to save a lot of money you could have spent of air/heat conditioners by purchasing a high-quality temperature regulator underlay. And it even gets better if you’re an energy conservationist as there are several underlayments in the current marketplace that come with temperature optimizing features that help to reduce utility costs by maximizing on the use of radiant heating. Sounds perfect, right?
They Enhance Stability; yes, your guess is as right as ours. Everything that has to be long-lasting should be able to attain stability. So if you’re planning on installing a laminate floor, then you most definitely want, like every other homeowner want a lasting effect, right? But then since the laminates come in blocks/planks, then there is a chance of them moving or shifting unnecessarily. It is applicable especially if the sub-floor of your home is uneven. You can avoid all this through the use of an underlay. There is nothing as annoying as walking on a floor that can’t even allow you to trust your steps. And it could even be more worrying if you have small children or pets in the house as, without flooring stability, you can’t even guarantee their safety. So if every other area of your life is stable, why wouldn’t you want the same for your floor?
Carpet Padding VS. Laminate Floor Underlayment
If you’re like most homeowners then you must be thinking; Why do I need an underlay when I can use a carpet? Well. As much as a carpet is an excellent accessory in a home, using it is far from correcting the imperfections of a laminate floor. Yes, it would give you the warmth and softness you require but would let you down in various aspects, especially when it comes to a laminate floor. You see the thing is, most of these products cannot be installed over a carpet or any carpet related pad. It simply doesn’t work that way, and it’s a rule you cannot just decide to alter to fit your expectations. Not unless you want to achieve a messy job. So if you’re renovation a home with a carpet pad, then you have to remove them before the installation of a laminate floor underlay. Save the carpet for use on the floor surface. It will be a perfect part of your decor.
Any Quality Different in Laminate Underlayment?
Like any other product in the market, the price tag n an underlay matters a lot. And although the general rule of ” the higher the price, the better the quality” doesn’t apply to all products, it somehow does when it comes to laminate underlays. But why? It is because their performance generally depends on their price as it’s the cost that determines the quality. So if you have a flexible budget and would do anything to achieve a beautiful look for your home, then you wouldn’t hesitate to spend on these. For instance, when it comes to underlays, the least expensive, less durable and of course less efficient are considered to be the white ones.
Another good thing about underlayments lies in the fact that you can choose to use them in specific areas in your house. Since they are expensive; more so the premiums ones( sound/temperature mitigation), you can skip installing them in areas you feel aren’t necessary. It can include areas that don’t involve a lot of daily movements.
There are also various types of basic laminate underlays that would give you an upper-hand when choosing the ones perfect for your home. They include;
1. The Standard Underlay: This is a perfect pick for homeowners planning to use them on plywood or other forms of existing sub-floors without moisture issues. It deals well with minor issues and gives your laminate floor a smooth appeal.
2. The 2-in-one Vapor Underlay: As earlier o mentioned, these come with a vapor attachment and are suitable to correct minor subfloor imperfections. They are good for places with traces of moist, thus ideal on concrete sub-floors. This types of underlays are normally made of low-density 3mm polythene material.
3. The 3-in-one Vapor Underlay: The third option is the 3-in -one, which like the previous two is made out of polythene. The only difference is that its thickness is around 2mm. which means you can only comfortably use them under thin laminate planks for easy blending. When you settle for this type of underlay, expect a pre-packaged roll(s) of 100 ft². It comes with a vapor barrier and an adhesive strip.
Note: Although these underlayments are made up of low-density polythene, they do come with a small percentage of noise reduction and temperature regulation features, something you can take advantage of especially if you’re living in a generally warm climate region. And if you don’t want to spend an extra coin on a piece of underlay you wouldn’t require, then you might as well settle for the 2-in one as they don’t come prepackaged. With then, you can easily get customized sizes from your local store depending on your room measurements.
Most individuals love the feel of laminate flooring in their homes because it’s simply such a beautiful sight. But unknown to many, it’s what’s underneath that makes all the difference. Having an Underlay gives your floor all the necessary boost it requires to surpass the test of time. With this, your laminate floor can comfortably withstand friction from frequent movements, curb moisture, retain heat, mitigate noise and or enhance the stability of the floor among other significant benefits. You have to know the various types of laminate floor underlays available in the market and choose the perfect one according to your needs.