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Laminate Flooring Underlayment

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Laminate Underlayment

Laminate Underlayment from Lumber Liquidators

© Lumber Liquidators

What Is It:

Laminate underlayment is foam that comes in rolls that are usually about 3 feet wide and between 30 and 100 feet long. Thicknesses range from 6 mil. to 8 mil.

Note that, in the world of flooring, there are two materials that go by the same name of "underlayment." There is the soft kind, the one that is mentioned above and which is the focus of this article. Then there is the hard kind, a thin plywood or fiberboard that is usually about 1/4" inch thick.

Why You Need It:

Unlike solid hardwood flooring or even engineered wood flooring, laminate is very thin and lacking in solidity: it needs help. Thus, you need to provide extra cushioning and sound absorption properties to your laminate.

Without underlayment, your new floor would be hard on your feet. Noises would more easily transmit to floors below, as well as within the room where the laminate is located. Finally, sub-floor imperfections may "telegraph" to the surface of your laminate.

Laminate underlayment will:

  1. Provide your floor a bit more thermal insulation.
  2. Bridge minor gaps that subfloors or existing floors have.
  3. Absorb sound.
  4. Make it easier for you to walk because it's softer.
  5. Act as a moisture barrier (though not all will do this; see comments below).

Underlayment Tips:

Make sure that the underlayment is as least as long as your room, to avoid unnecessary seams. For example, if your floor is 25' x 25', try to purchase underlayment in 30 foot rolls.

However, length-wise seams are unavoidable. These seams are held in place either by self-adhesive on the underlayment itself or separately with tape.

I've found that there is no need to spend a lot of money on underlayment. Some manufacturers may try to convince you of the need for "designer" underlayment, but no such thing exists. Foam is foam, the only difference being in the thickness of the foam.

Laminate Flooring With Pre-Attached Underlayment:

Some laminate flooring, such as Pergo Accolade and DuPont RealTouch, have the underlayment already attached to the bottom of the floor. So, not only is it unnecessary to add extra laminate underlay, it is not advised. Otherwise, you will end up with a floor that is too squishy and does not wear well.

Not Necessarily a Moisture Barrier:

Be sure to check product specifications. If you're laying laminate over concrete, for example, you'll need a vapor or moisture barrier. Sometimes the underlayment will act as a vapor barrier; sometimes not. Don't make assumptions.

Purchasing Underlayment:

Online, you can purchase laminate floor underlayment in rolls 25' long and 4' long, with a thickness of 1/16", for about $20 from Lumber Liquidators. Shop Direct - Dream Home Foam Underlayment (Pictured)

See also: Laminate Underlayment in Rolls

If You Want More Warmth, Consider Radiant Heating:

Even though underlayment can help make laminate feel warmer, it won't help with excessively cold floors, such as basements located in chilly climates. For this, you may want to consider installing electric radiant heating mats under the laminate. Radiant heating is approved for most types of laminate.

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