It’s important for every home with laminate flooring to have proper insulation under it. This will not only cut down on the heating bills but will also keep the floor warmer. However, when it comes to choosing the best insulation for your floor, there are quite many options on the market. That’s why it’s important to properly research all your options before you make a purchase.
This is exactly what we’ll be doing in today’s article. Today, we’ll be looking deeply into all the best options for laminate floor insulation out there to determine which one’s the best for you.
Let’s get started!
Roberts Underlayment for Floating Laminate and Engineered Wood Flooring – Best Overall
This underlayment is a great option because it has styrofoam beads for air circulation between the top and bottom layers. You’ll learn very quickly if you’re browsing the internet right now in the search of the best underlayment that not all options include features that improve air circulation, which is something that really sets this underlayment apart.
Circulation of air is crucial not just for temperature upkeep, but also to fight bacteria – this is because constant air movement inhibits mold growth. It’s also great because it seals the moisture out, which only protects the wooden flooring. This is a feature that isn’t as common as we’d like with other underlayment options.
Health is often overlooked when it comes to seemingly minor features like this, but it’s definitely a feature that sets this option apart.
The roll-in question is 40 inches wide and 189 feet long – it can cover 630 square feet and protect it very well. The adhesive strip that’s included in the roll is great for the setup because it makes it easier to stick. This underlayment is 2 millimeters thick, so it’s not going to impact the level of your floor.
Another interesting thing about this underlayment is the sound testing it went through. The Sound Transmission Loss Test (STC) gave it a rating of 67 and the Impact Sound Transmission Test (IIC) gave it a rating of 68. This means that this underlayment is actually pretty useful when it comes to sound isolation. It makes footsteps and voices more difficult to hear, so it’s a great option for apartment buildings.
It’s green in color and it’s made from polyethylene and it’s a great choice for correcting minor subfloor imperfections.
This underlayment works by sealing the moisture out between flooring from below and above sub-floors, and I’d like to point out once again just how good it is at fighting for your health.
If you’d like to learn more about this underlayment – follow this link.
3-in 1 Vapor Barrier Flooring Underlayment – Best for Budget
You still have options even if you’re on a tight budget. The first entry on this list is far more expensive than the one we’re about to show you, but I’m still convinced that this underlayment deserves a spot on this list.
It’s sold as two rolls, each covering 200 square feet of floor, so you get 400 square feet altogether. Moisture is also going to be held back by this underlayment, only in a smaller percentage in comparison with the previous entry. This underlayment offers a barrier that’s great for mold and moisture protection, while it’s also non-allergenic.
It should also be noted that this roll offers some level of sound absorption, but it hasn’t been tested.
It’s 3 millimeters thick and it’s perfect for wood, bamboo, and floating and laminate floors.
Follow this link if you’d like to learn more.
FLOORLOT SHOP Laminate Flooring Underlayment with Vapor Barrier – Easiest to Install
This 3-millimeter thick roll is a great option, and it’s not even that expensive. You can cover 200 square feet with a single roll, and you’ll quickly see that it holds very powerful and effective moisture and vapor barrier. I’ve already explained exactly why this is important.
The 3-millimeter roll is great at sound absorption, as Floorlot Blue helps quiet sounds from foot traffic. It reduces noise in today’s active households & minimizes the hollow sound associated with floating floors.
It’s also very easy to install – this underlayment has a Peel-&-Stick tape that’s attached to the roll, so it makes for a very simple installation without the need of calling in a handyman. The overlapping system ensures that there are no empty spaces between the rolls – this ensures that no air gets through.
This roll also includes a built-in vapor barrier so no additional films are required. Tape and overlap systems provide a strong seal. There are many rolls out there that don’t have seals as strong, which means that with time (although time in this context means 15 to 20 years) the layers of underlayment will start to fall apart.
The 3 millimeters of thick underlayment also help to cushion any imperfections on the floor.
I can not stress just how easy it is to install this roll – just take a look at the comments under the product itself for real-life experiences from happy customers.
If you’d like to learn more about this product, follow this link.
MP Global Products QuietWalk Laminate Flooring Underlayment with Attached Vapor Barrier – Best for Sound Reduction
Fairly similar to our previous entries – this underlayment is great for sound reduction. This is actually the most prominent quality of the underlayment, as it’s definitely superior to other rolls in that regard.
The dense fiber used in the production of this roll is excellent for noise reduction, and it’s also compression-resistant and it can handle consistent traffic.
If you have concrete under your laminate flooring, then this may perhaps be your best option – the fiber used allows it to breathe and protects the overlying laminate flooring from harmful moisture.
It’s really important to note that this roll is Non-VOC certified – this means that it’s made from non-off-gassing materials. It’s safe for indoor use and won’t in any way harm the air quality inside of your home.
It’s also approved to work with radiant heat systems, so you don’t have to worry about a possible fire hazard. If you have a heating system that’s built into the floor, then this underlayment is what you need – it’s completely safe to use with those systems. It’s also great for life in colder areas, as it will allow the heat to permeate evenly while protecting the floor covering from thermal shock.
This roll is compatible with laminate, wood (doesn’t matter if it’s glued down or nailed down), and vinyl tiles. This roll is great for leak protection – that means spills, leaky plumbing, faulty ice-makers, etc. All of these can cause floor damage. QuietWalk’s fibers can absorb up to 5 times their own weight, drawing harmful moisture in while protecting the overlying floor.
It’s very easy to install these roles – they’re already evenly cut, but if you need to repurpose them and cut them again, they’re easily cuttable with a knife. They’re also difficult to tear, so you don’t have to worry about their longevity.
With this role, you get enough to cover an area of 360 square feet, so you don’t have to worry about a lack of materials.
If you’re interested and you’d like to learn more, click here.
Roberts Super Felt Underlayment
This is another ideal underlayment from Roberts for engineered wood and laminate flooring. It’s another entry on this list that’s going to provide great cushioning for the floor, which means that it’s going to absorb the noise very well. It’s actually been tested with both Sound Transmission Loss Test (STC) with a rating of 66 and the Impact Sound Transmission Test (IIC) with a rating of 67.
The materials used in the manufacturing of this roll are recycled and eco-friendly, mostly consisting of fiber. The process of manufacturing includes extremely high-temperature processing to treat the fiber. It’s an ideal cushion for concrete and wooden subfloors, and it’s only 3 millimeters thick – this can help in correcting imperfections on the subfloor.
What this roll is really good with is insulating chilly floors – the R-value of it is excellent. It makes for a very good fit if you have radiant heat floors.
It’s also not difficult to set it up – this underlayment comes with an adhesive strip and three inches of the overlapping film – this film makes it easier to link multiple rolls for large areas. Ease of installation is a real feature with this roll, and there are 360 square feet of underlayment with this roll, so you’re surely going to be able to cover a larger area.
If you place it between the concrete and wood subflooring it’ll keep the floor warmer in the winter and cooler during the summer.
If you’re interested and you’d like to learn more, follow this link.
QEP 4×25-Feet Cork Underlayment
This roll of underlayment is a bit different from all the other rolls here since it’s made from cork. Other entries on this list are all made from fiber, but the difference between installation and insulation is still somewhat debatable among experts. It’s still undecided whether cork rolls are better or worse in insulation than fiber rolls.
This roll is very easy to install, be it glue-down or loose-lay configurations. There are 100 square feet of materials in a single roll – so you’re going to need to buy an additional roll if you’re going to be covering a larger area.
This cork roll is great at reducing thermal transmission, so it will definitely improve the effectiveness of floor heating systems.
Something that’s an understandable worry about cork underlayment is cracking. However, you don’t need to worry about it since this roll has a crack isolation membrane that resists the transfer of stress cracks.
The greatest advantage of this underlayment is just how applicable it is with different kinds of materials! You can freely use it with ceramic and porcelain tile, stone, marble, wood; engineered hardwood, and laminate floors – it’s not as restricting as other rolls.
Even though it’s debatable – it might be a better sound barrier than other entries on this list. It’s a quarter of an inch thick, so it’s actually much thicker than all the other entries on this list. It’s also made of cork, often recycled cork, so it’s ecological and with natural hypoallergenic properties which is definitely a plus if you want to create a healthy air environment in your home.
Check it out here if you’re interested!
STEICO 4 in 1 soft Underlayment
This underlayment is also different in a way. All entries on this list have been rolls, but this is the first entry that comes in panels – each pack contains 15 panels that are 3 millimeters thick and 2 by 3 feet in size.
It’s commendable that these panels are very good at battling mildew growth. They’re manufactured without VOC and many other poisonous emissions. This makes your living space safer for kids and for pets. Natural products without any glue additives ensure that these panels are great in preventing conditions that encourage mold and mildew growth under the floor.
These panels implement a technology called “Vapor Open”, which is used to manufacture underlayments that effectively battle mildew and mold. These panels are also very good for leaks – they can absorb 20% of its weight in water because the materials are natural and porous. This is great for preventing a minor leak from damaging your floor.
The installation of these panels is not difficult – it utilizes a simple click and lock system. This also prevents the effect of springing when walking on the floor, which is helpful for longevity. It can also compensate for unevenness up to 1 millimeter.
The panels themselves, despite being green, are made from wood fiber, all up to German standards. This wood underlayment is 100% natural and recyclable; VOC, formaldehyde, glue, toxic emissions-free, and it is made using Binder-Lignin, which is actually wood tar.
You should be warned that after opening a new sealed pack, you might detect a harmless distinct concentrated odor of moist wood. This is due to the manufacturing “wet” process of the product. This odor will dissipate within a few hours after opening the package.
If you’d like to learn more about this product, please follow this link.
When to Install Laminate Underflooring?
There are several reasons why you might want to install laminate underflooring, and I’ve already mentioned a few on this list.
The first thing I’d like to mention is the correction offered to minor subfloor imperfections – since subfloors aren’t perfectly flat, installing under the flooring in the form of underlayment can correct those imperfections. There are always nail holes, pits, gaps, grooves, and splinters with laminate floors – and installing underlayment usually helps with this.
This is actually a fault of laminate flooring – the same issue isn’t present with engineered flooring and hardwood flooring. These floors usually run over the imperfections without the need for an underlayment (but I still recommend underlayment for thermal insulation if not for level correction). Laminate flooring isn’t as lucky – it will duplicate the imperfections of the subfloor on itself.
That’s why many experts recommend the installation of underlayment that’s 3 millimeters thick – they’re ideal for correcting the imperfections on the floor.
They also make it softer to walk on – underlayment will soften the surface of the laminate, ensuring that it’s easier to walk on.
Something that I’ve mentioned a lot with all of these entries is sound reduction – this is actually one of the most important points of an underlayment. This is especially applicable if you live in an apartment building, much more than in a house. Everyone is walking on everyone’s heads in apartment buildings, and having underlayment built into the floor is going to ensure that your neighbors don’t hear you walking and talking.
Laminate doesn’t achieve this on its own – it’s neither thick nor dense enough to absorb sound well. Most laminate boards are about 12 millimeters thick, and the low density of them ensures that they let the sound right through. Installing underlayment helps with this.
Controlling moisture is another important aspect of this story. Moisture is heaven for the growth of mildew and mold, which in return affect your health and the quality of air. This is a big issue and you should definitely keep it in mind when you’re purchasing your underlayment.
Fortunately, most manufacturers focus on this and really try to move towards safer environments. Most entries on this list are hypoallergenic and are made from recyclable materials which improve air quality.
There’s always a chance of moisture migrating between a concrete slab, tile, or a cement board upwards towards your laminate flooring. If this space isn’t climate-controlled then the growth of mildew and mold is inevitable.
Installing underlayment will complete a cohesive barrier under the laminate flooring, ensuring that nothing can go through, which in return means that no spores from mold and mildew will freely flow around your home.
Lastly, the most important and the most obvious reason for installing underlayment is thermal insulation. This seems quite simple, but it’s incredibly important. Good underlayment will ensure that your floor isn’t letting heat away during the winter, and it will do the opposite during the summer – it will keep the temperature on a cooler level for a longer time.
This will directly affect your budget – you’ll have to spend less money on heating during the winter, and your AC unit won’t be as used during the summer.
When Don’t You Need Underlayment?
There are some instances when you won’t need to install underlayment.
Firstly, there are some forms of laminate flooring where the underlayment is included. This depends on your contractors and what you’ve agreed upon with them – and if your flooring already has underlayment, then there’s absolutely no need for you to install an additional layer and it’s a complete waste of money.
This wasn’t a common feature until a while ago – attached underlayment was only recently invented, but it’s become very popular. This means that more and more contractors insist on installing flooring with attached underlayment.
The only other reason why you might give up on the idea of installing an underlayment is the cost. It might be surprising to some people, but these rolls aren’t at all cheap, and if you’re planning on installing them in rooms that don’t require that kind of attention (i.e. the laundry room), then you might want to save that money as the spending is relatively unnecessary.
How to Install Underlayment?
Make sure that you’re purchasing a roll of underlayment that’s actually compatible with your floor and subfloor. After that’s been settled, you’re going to need to add a few things to your supply list.
You’ll need your underlayment, a broom, a hammer, screws and nails, a screwdriver or an electric drill, a tape measure, some sticky tape, a pair of scissors, and a utility knife.
The first thing you’re going to need is to remove your existing floor. This can sometimes be tricky, and if you don’t feel like you’re up to the job, feel free to contact an expert and pay them to remove the floor for you. Keep in mind that you’re going to have to reinstall this very same floor, so it’s crucial that you don’t harm the panels in the process of removing them.
After the floor’s been cleared, you’ll need to clean the subfloor. The reason for this is twofold: it provides you with a clean area to work with, and your underlayment will also be safe from being ripped. Feel free to vacuum your subfloor after sweeping it with a broom first.
You’ll need to inspect your subfloor once you’ve cleaned it. This is often overlooked, but it’s actually an important task. It has to be flat and dry. If the subfloor develops any problems because there were issues you overlooked, it’s going to be one hell of a job to take apart the floor and the underlayment to get to the subfloor. It’s better to handle these issues now.
Here are a few tips on what you should keep your eye on – your subfloor must be flat, it has to be dry too (maximum acceptable moisture reading for wood subfloors is 14%), creaky areas must be fixed, low areas must be risen with leveling formula, sticking nails or screw have to be fixed (either rip them out or cut them off with a saw).
After that, you can finally get rolling with your underlayment!
Working from left to right, start unrolling the roll and butt it against the wall. Make sure to cut it when needed and don’t be afraid that you’ll be lacking in materials. If needed, you’ll buy more. It’s more important to achieve good insulation than save on materials.
As soon as you unroll two rows one next to another – tape them together. This will ensure that they don’t move and that you build a solid structure. However, don’t overlap the rows. Put them right next to one another and tape them like that, but don’t let them overlap.
Make sure you’re working section by section when installing your underlayment and flooring together as you move forward. Don’t rush and try to install the whole roll at once. Work this way until you’ve covered your whole subfloor.
Make sure that your underlayment hasn’t ripped somewhere and that there are no empty spaces. If the final test is over, then you can put your floor back.
Putting the floor back is somewhat easier than ripping it apart. Once again, you can call an expert to do this for you, but it’s also a job that you can pull off on your own.
Start at a corner of the room and lay the planks down one next to the other until the opposite wall is reached. Make sure that there’s no wiggle room between the joints. Continue doing this, row to row, until you’ve covered the whole room.
There are some homes that have multiple layers of flooring and subflooring, in this case – you’re going to need several levels of underlayment.
Whatever you’re doing, make sure that you leave your floor unattended and that no one walks on it for 48 hours after setting it. This is called acclimation – wooden flooring can very often spread after it starts breathing, so it’s necessary that you give it a little time for the wood to get used to the temperature in your home.
After that, you’re done!