How to Decide if You Need a Laminate Flooring Underlay
- What is underlay for laminate flooring?
- How does underlayment work?
- Top 5 benefits of flooring underlay
- How to choose the best underlay for laminate flooring
- Installation guide for laying underlay
- When to Consider Installing Laminate Flooring Underlay
- Why Tile Merchant?
Laminate wood flooring is a gorgeous, surprisingly authentic alternative to costly, un-eco-friendly natural wooden floors. But how do you know whether your brand-new laminate flooring will need an underlay or not?
This guide to the best underlay for laminate flooring will walk you through what underlayment is, how it works, what its benefits are, as well as how to choose which one might be best for your Irish home, and how to install it if you choose to use it.
What is underlay for laminate flooring?
Laminate flooring underlay can come in a range of different materials, each with their own unique benefits to the floors in your home. Each offers a thin, cushioned membrane between your floorboards or roll of laminate and the foundations beneath.
Available in rolls, you can think of laminate flooring like a specialised yoga matt – it protects you and your flooring from the harder, colder, moister surface underneath.
Sometimes, laminate wood flooring already comes with underlayment attached, other times you
need to purchase underlayment separately.
How does underlayment work?
Just like you wouldn’t lay some new garden decking without first optimising its foundations, or build a new patio without laying a suitable substrate, laminate wood flooring needs a strong foundation, too!
Underlayment is installed atop the base layer of your house’s floors; be that concrete, tile, or wood. The specialised material of the underlay – cork, foam, plastic or rubber – then provides a secure, cushioned, protective surface on which your laminate can be confidently laid.
For a full tour of the benefits of laminate underlay, keep on reading!
Top 5 benefits of flooring underlay
Let’s take a whistle-stop tour through the 5 main reasons we, at Tile Merchant, recommend installing underlayment beneath your laminate flooring.
An obvious place to start, the comfort of your wood laminate floors is surely of paramount importance.
From protecting young children and elderly family members prone to falling, to simply enjoying the feeling of walking across the wood, it’s crucial your laminate is cushioned from below.
This becomes especially important wherever there are concrete or brick subfloors.
Laminate flooring underlay provides a thick cushion of support and comfort, offering enough give to make walking across your new floor a true pleasure.
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With energy prices eternally on the rise, the more you can do to insulate your home against Ireland’s bitter winters, the better.
Laminate flooring underlay traps heat in your home by stopping the cold from rising, or warmth from escaping, through the floor. You can even buy specialist underlay for underfloor heating, or choose a material with superior insulatory qualities.
Trouble with downstairs neighbours complaining of noise? Or perhaps you’re just fed up with hearing your kids practising guitar solos in their bedrooms upstairs?
Whether you face issues with noise in the home or not, the noise-reduction qualities of underlay for laminate flooring ensures a more peaceful experience for everyone in the house.
Especially useful for fostering an atmosphere of relaxed concentration for those of us who now work from home.
Protection against water damage
Laminate wood flooring offers excellent protection against water damage, leaks, and spillage, but typically only from above. The moisture present in your subfloor or home’s foundations can still cause issues if allowed to rise through the floorboards.
Laminate underlayment with a built-in vapour seal stops moisture from rising, thus preventing damp build-up and prolonging the (already-long) lifespan of your gorgeous new flooring.
Creates a stable and even surface
As you would use a layer of substrate in the garden when laying a new patio, underlay for laminate flooring helps to create a smooth and even surface on which to install your new floorboards.
This is not only aesthetically important, but also key in terms of encouraging a long and healthy life in the wood, whilst making the installation process as painless as possible
How to choose the best underlay for laminate flooring
There are a range of different materials which underlay can be made from, each with slightly different qualities. Knowing the differences between them can help you to choose an underlay for your laminate flooring with benefits suited to your specific needs.
● Cork: Cork underlay is a traditional choice which prioritises comfort above all else.
● Foam: Foam is also a comfy choice for underlay, though is the more budget-friendly option for those who can’t stretch to the more luxurious rubber.
● Vapour-seal: Vapour-sealed plastic floor underlay should be used where moisture from the subfloor currently is, or may pose, a problem.
● Rubber: Rubber laminate flooring underlay is an excellent noise-reduction material, renowned for nullifying echoes in recording studios and beyond.
● Perforated: A high-quality perforated underlayment is ideal for use in combination with underfloor heating, as the holes in the underlay allow for direct heat transfer.
● Plastic: Standard plastic underlay for laminate wood flooring is the most budget-friendly option available from the Tile Merchant shelves; never compromising on quality.
Installation guide for laying underlay
Whichever laminate flooring underlay you choose to use, DIY installation should follow these same four simple steps.
Step One: Measure your room
Before buying your underlay, you first need to know exactly how much of it you’re going to need to cover the area of your house you plan to refloor. Measure the dimensions of your room accurately, and use these to calculate your underlay expenses. Tile Merchant underlay is sold in rolls of 10m2, 25m2, or 30m.
Step Two: Choose the best underlay for your needs and flooring
Once you know how much underlay you’ll need, select the optimal laminate wood flooring underlayment based on your subfloor and specific needs. For example, laying laminate on concrete or brick will require a tougher, comfier underlay, whilst laying it atop underfloor heating will require a perforated underlay.
Step Three: Prepare the subfloor
Assess your subfloor for any damages, and repair these wherever necessary.
Next, sweep, hoover, and or mop and dry your subfloor to ensure no debris is likely to create lumps and bumps in the final floor. Lastly, consider removing skirting and replacing once the flooring is installed.
Step Four: Lay and secure your underlayment to the subfloor
Taking your time, lay your new underlayment atop the subfloor, leaving gaps of at least 10mm around any exposed pipes. Use a utility knife to trim the underlay to size.
If laying on concrete or brick, lay the vapour-seal-side face down. On the contrary, lay your underlay the other way up on wood or tile, to avoid the surface slipping. Use spray adhesive or tape, once the underlay is in position, to secure its seams to the subfloor.
Now all that’s left to do is to install your wooden laminate flooring on top of the underlay!
When to Consider Installing Laminate Flooring Underlay
Underlay for laminate flooring is almost always a good idea. The only times you shouldn’t consider investing in the best quality underlayment for your floors are when the floorboards, or laminate rolls, already have an underlay attached; or when your budget is too tight to incorporate a layer of underlay.
In all other circumstances, the team here at Tile Merchant would always recommend you invest in underlay. It will protect you, your floors, and your home from falls, damp, the cold and more,
for many years to come.
You can browse our full range of underlay for laminate flooring online. Alternatively, give us a call or pop into one of our showrooms to discover the benefits of underlayment for yourself.
Thanks for reading!
Why Tile Merchant?
We offer extremely competitive pricing on our entire range of tiles and likewise. We stock a huge range of wall and floor tiles and our prices are competitive for retail and trade. Our stock is widely available in our tile stores in Dublin and Ashbourne (Co. Meath) which are open 7 days a week.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to shop our tiles online, we can supply you with samples delivered for free.
Article written by Calum
Cal Bannerman is a freelance writer, editor, podcaster and voice actor from the Scottish Borders. He runs the storytelling podcast "Stories from the Hearth" and lives in a wee Glasgow Flat with his partner and their cat".