Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Before trying your hand at installing your own laminate flooring, it's important to understand your underlayment options. There are several different types, some providing insulation and moisture protection while others have no added benefits. After thoroughly researching the subject, we found the best underlayment options for your laminate flooring needs. Our results are outlined below.
To insulate your laminate flooring, you will need to choose the proper underlayment because not all provide insulating qualities. We found that the following products are best for insulation:
- QuietWalk 5mm QW100B1LT Laminate Flooring Underlayment
- FLOORLOT FLOORS 3mm Gold Laminate
- QEP 72003Q 1/4-Inch 6mm Cork Underlayment
Don't go purchase your underlayment just yet. Continue reading to learn how to apply your insulation and why it's important, along with the other types of underlayment options.
- 1 Types of Underlayment
- 2 How to Choose Underlayment
- 3 How to Insulate Laminate Flooring
- 4 Best Underlayment Options
- 5 What Happens if You Don't Put Underlayment Under Laminate?
- 6 What is the Best Insulation for Laminate Flooring?
- 7 Is it Worth Insulating the Floor?
- 8 Summary
Types of Underlayment
You want to insulate your laminated floor, but do you know what other features are available with underlayment? There are other traits such as moisture protection and sound control, but not all underlayments contain these. There are four basic types which include:
- Standard Foam
Standard foam is the most basic form of underlayment available. It is also the cheapest. However, it does not provide insulation, moisture protection, or sound control qualities. Standard foam can be used with oriented standard board (OSB) and plywood subfloors.
If your subfloor is made of concrete, this is not the underlayment for your home. Concrete contains a lot of moisture, so without a vapor barrier, your laminate flooring may be subject to mold, mildew, and warping.
Combination underlayment is the same as standard foam. However, it has an added moisture barrier, making it suitable for use over concrete subfloors. It still does not contain sound control or insulating properties.
Felt underlayment provides both insulation and sound control qualities. It includes a moisture barrier and also provides cushion for comfort and support.
Cork is the most expensive and the highest quality underlayment. It provides cushion, protects against mold growth, adds insulation, and also controls sound.
How to Choose Underlayment
As you now know, not all underlayments are created equal. Since you are reading this post, you likely want your floors to be insulated. For insulation, you will need to stick with felt or cork underlayments. However, let's go ahead and take a look at how to choose the proper underlayment for your floor.
Before choosing your underlayment, you will need to make sure it is suitable for your subfloor.
As mentioned earlier, concrete subfloors require moisture control.
Floor location is also important. For example, basements and kitchens should have moisture control underlayment. If you are installing the laminate flooring on an upstairs level, you will likely need an underlayment with a sound barrier to keep the upstairs noise from disturbing those on the bottom floor of the home.
Wood subfloors don't typically need any specific underlayment. However, if your floor is not level or creaks a lot, you will want to invest in an underlayment that has cushion and sound reduction ability.
Thermal ratings are important when searching for an underlayment that will insulate your home. Just because it claims to have insulating properties does not mean that it will provide enough. An underlayment's ability to insulate is measured using R-value. The greater the R-value, the more insulation the underlayment will provide.
Thickness is very important when placing underlayment for laminate flooring. It needs to be just right. If it is too thick, your floors will begin to pull away and warp. However, if the underlayment is too thin, the floor will be hard and loud.
The size will depend on the type of material. If your underlayment is made of felt, you should use a thickness of approximately 2 to 3 millimeters. If you are using cork, you'll need to double the thickness.
How to Insulate Laminate Flooring
Now that you know how to choose the best underlayment, it's time to learn how to install it under your laminate flooring. It's a fairly simple process, and you can learn from this YouTube video:
Before you begin, make sure the subfloor is clean and dry. It also needs to be level. If your concrete or plywood subfloor is not level, you will need to purchase a floor-leveling compound.
Many underlayments are equipped with adhesive strips. These strips are not meant for attaching the underlayment to the subfloor. Instead, you will use them to attach one piece of underlayment to another. Do not layer the pieces.
First, you will need to start at one end of the wall. Staple it down to keep it tight and in place. Roll the underlayment across the floor, stapling it to the other wall. Using a box cutter, remove any excess material, repeating the process until the entire floor is covered. Use the adhesive strips to secure each piece of underlay to the next.
Best Underlayment Options
When insulating your floors, we found these three products to be the best on the market.
1. QuietWalk 5 QW100B1LT Laminate Flooring Underlayment
QuietWalk is one of the best brands on the market when it comes to flooring underlayment. Not only does it provide insulating properties, but it is also easy to install. Unlike QuietWalk Plus, you don't have to nail and glue this underlayment to the subfloor.
QuietWalk is compression resistant and works with in-floor heating systems. It also helps smooth imperfections from the subfloor and has one of the highest ratings for sound reduction, reducing floor sounds as well as noise from talking and keeps sound from traveling to other rooms. Unlike some underlayments, QuietWalk absorbs sound instead of deflecting it.
2. FloorLot Floors 3mm Gold Laminate
This top-of-the-line underlayment is easy to install, works with a range of flooring options, and provides the best in sound absorption. Not only does it lower the sound of footsteps, but it also creates a barrier against noises in the home and the creaking that generally comes with floating floors.
The moisture barrier protects against mold and mildew, and the thermal qualities will help keep your home insulated. The 3mm cushion creates comfort while also improving imperfections in the subfloor.
3. QEP 72003Q 1/4-Inch 6mm Cork Underlayment
This cork underlayment is not as easy to install as other products; however, it is a cushioned underlayment that provides the best in comfort and also protects against stress cracks from the subfloor. You'll need cork adhesive and a 75 lb roller.
Its sound absorption properties will reduce noisy footsteps and also help keep upstairs sounds from traveling to lower levels of the home. The excellent thermal abilities will help keep cold air inside the home during the summer while trapping heat during the winter.
Don't forget to purchase the roller and adhesive. You can find both on Amazon.
What Happens if You Don't Put Underlayment Under Laminate?
As tempting as it may be, you should not skip the underlayment for your laminate floors. While it may seem harmless, it will damage your floors. Laminate floors are also known as floating floors. The underlayment is what helps them "float." When installing laminate floors, the pieces interlock with one another.
Without the support of underlayment, the interlocking pieces will begin to shift and warp. Additionally, if you install your laminate floor on top of a concrete subfloor without any underlay, the moisture from the concrete will destroy your overlay, causing mold and mildew.
However, some flooring comes with underlayment already attached. In this case, no additional underlayment is needed. In fact, if you use additional underlayment with a floor that already has it attached, it will be too thick for your floors, causing them to shift and warp.
What is the Best Insulation for Laminate Flooring?
Felt underlayment is the best insulation for laminate flooring. While cork is higher quality and provides top-of-the-line comfort, felt is easy to install and provides the same insulating properties.
Our top choice for felt underlayment is QuietWalk QW100B1LT Laminate Flooring Underlayment.
Is it Worth Insulating the Floor?
After careful research, we found that it is absolutely worth insulating your floors. Not only will proper insulation help regulate room temperature, but it will also help keep your floors warm during the winter and cool during the summer. You may also see a reduction in your electric bill.
According to Energy Saving Trust, it is most beneficial to insulate ground floors. Upper floors don't necessarily need to be insulated. However, all floors that are situated above unheated rooms, such as garages, need insulation.
Insulating your laminate flooring will add comfort to your home. However, it's important to choose the right underlayment for your subfloor as well as the rest of your home. Using the above guidelines will help you choose the underlayment that is right for you.
Read these other helpful posts on our blog to learn about heating for your floor: