Usually made of foam, rubber, cork, or felt, among other materials, an underlayment simply refers to what goes between the original floor and the hardwood flooring that is about to be installed. It adds softness, reduces the impact of sound, resists moistures, provides additional support, and makes the hardwood longer-lasting.
Looking for underlayment, however, can be an overwhelming task especially for the uninitiated. If you need help finding one that will work best for your hardwood floor, read on and learn from the valuable insights we will be sharing.
- 1 Top Underlayments for Hardwood Floors
- 1.1 First Step 630-Square Feet Roll Underlayment
- 1.2 Roberts 70-190 Super-Felt Insulating Underlayment
- 1.3 Roberts 70-198 Silicone Vapor Shield Underlayment
- 1.4 Roberts 70-025 Unison Underlayment
- 1.5 3-in-1 SilentVapor Barrier Flooring Underlayment
- 1.6 Laminate Flooring Underlayment with Vapor Barrier
- 1.7 Schluter-Ditra XL Underlayment Roll
- 1.8 IncStores Pre-cut Rubber Underlayment Rolls
- 1.9 FloorMuffer Flooring Underlayment
- 1.10 STEICO 4-in-1 Soft Underlayment
- 1.11 Black Jack Premium Laminate and Engineered Wood Flooring Underlayment
- 1.12 QuietWalk Plus Underlayment
- 1.13 MP Global Products INSUL100 Insulayment Underlayment
- 1.14 QEP 72000Natural Cork Underlayment
- 1.15 Manton Cork Underlayment
- 2 Hardwood Floors Underlayment FAQs
- 3 Wrap Up
Top Underlayments for Hardwood Floors
To make things easier for you, we spent hours conducting research, going through some of the top products available on the market. Below are some of our top recommendations.
First Step 630-Square Feet Roll Underlayment
The premium construction of this underlayment makes this one of the top picks on the market. It comes with cushioning Styrofoam beads, which are instrumental in terms of improving air circulation. It also comes with antimicrobial protection.
To prove the quality of this product, it has been subjected to a compression test exerting a maximum pressure of 1,320 pounds. The results showed that the material is able to retain up to 96% of its thickness, which obviously speaks about its exceptional quality.
Roberts 70-190 Super-Felt Insulating Underlayment
This is an underlayment that is praised for its ability to absorb sound effectively. It has a thickness of 3mm, which also makes it capable of correcting minor problems with your subfloor. In terms of materials, it is made using fibers that have been treated at an extremely high temperature.
If there is one problem with this product, it would be that cutting will be quite hard and will require a bit of an effort.
Roberts 70-198 Silicone Vapor Shield Underlayment
This is from the same manufacturer as the product that has been mentioned above, but they are different in the materials that are used. It is made of wet strength paper with a silicone coating to make it more resistant to wear.
One of the best things about this material is the ease of cutting, making it easy to customize the size based on what you’ll need for your flooring.
Roberts 70-025 Unison Underlayment
It is the third underlayment from Roberts mentioned in this post, which speaks a lot about the reputation of the company when it comes to the quality of their products. It is made of polyethylene foam, which will provide effective cushioning.
There is a 2mil. top, which provides it with the ability to protect against moisture, eliminating the need to install a moisture barrier separately.
3-in-1 SilentVapor Barrier Flooring Underlayment
This is known for its versatility as it can be used in almost all flooring materials, including hardwood. It has a thickness of 2mm, which will be more than enough to provide insulation to your floors.
There are some users, however, who revealed that it has poor construction. There can be bubbles and waves, but this could just be a bad batch.
Laminate Flooring Underlayment with Vapor Barrier
Whether it is for laminate or engineered hardwood floor, this is another product that can prove to be impressive. It is one of the best ways to minimize squeaking on the floor and to provide sound insulation. It also has moisture and vapor barrier. To add, it can resist mold and mildew.
When purchased, it already comes with an overlap and tape that will be needed to complete its installation.
Schluter-Ditra XL Underlayment Roll
The rigid structure of this underlayment is one of its best assets, providing an assurance that it will be long-lasting even when installed in areas with high foot traffic. It has heavy load distribution, allowing it to maintain structural integrity through the years.
Its price can be a drawback for some people, but it can be easily justified by the premium quality. Plus, you will also love how its installation is one thing you can do in a snap.
IncStores Pre-cut Rubber Underlayment Rolls
Beyond hardwood floors, you can also use this for laminate, engineered wood, or tiles, among other materials. However, the manufacturer strongly advises that it should never be used with vinyl and linoleum.
It is well-loved by many because it is made using 80% recycled materials, making it eco-friendly. Not only that, it also comes with natural antimicrobial properties, allowing it to prevent mold and mildew.
FloorMuffer Flooring Underlayment
As the manufacturer claims, this product has the highest rating when it comes to an effective acoustic barrier, making it a great choice if you would want to minimize noise. It is a lightweight material. Installation can also be a snap.
There are some buyers, however, who noted that the material can be too thin for some and can be easily prone to breakage. Some contractors recommend using two layers of the underlayment to make it stronger.
STEICO 4-in-1 Soft Underlayment
The best asset of this product is the use of natural materials, which can offer an abundance of benefits, including heat and sound insulation while having a minimum thickness. It is also 100% green as it is made using eco-friendly fibers.
It is also a bit elastic, which will help it in correcting slight floor problems. If the floor is excessively uneven, however, this underlayment won’t be enough to solve the problem.
Black Jack Premium Laminate and Engineered Wood Flooring Underlayment
One roll of this underlayment can already cover an area of 100 square feet. It has a dense-cell structure, which contributes to its rigidity. This also allows it to resist moisture, as well as the growth of mold and mildew, making it a great way to keep your floor hygienic.
Nonetheless, one of the possible issues associated with its use would be how it may not be as effective in reducing sound from footsteps as against the more premium counterparts.
QuietWalk Plus Underlayment
One of the reasons we have included this in our recommendations is its exceptional ability to reduce sound, especially from footsteps. After all, it won’t be called QuietPlus for nothing!
The recycled fibers that are used in the production of the underlayment are known for their density, allowing it to resist compression and stay rigid through the years.
MP Global Products INSUL100 Insulayment Underlayment
Regardless if your hardwood flooring is glued or nailed, this underlayment is another promising option that should be on your list. It can help conserve heat and dampen sound. It is also easy to install and has excellent adhesion property.
With the moisture protection that it can provide, you’ll be happy with its ability to help lengthen the functional life of your hardwood floor.
QEP 72000Natural Cork Underlayment
One thing that differentiates this from the products that have been mentioned above is the overall construction since it is made of natural cork. It is thick enough to act as a crack isolation membrane, which will be critical in making your hardwood floors longer-lasting.
If you have heated floors, this underlayment will also be promising as it is known for improving thermal transmission.
Manton Cork Underlayment
If you are looking for underlayment for DIY installation, make sure to include this on your list as well. The thickness of the cork used makes it excellent even for hardwood flooring.
It has fewer seams compared to other materials, making it easier to ensure the leveling of the floor. Despite being quite thick, you do not have to worry about the difficulty of cutting the material. All that you need is a sharp blade or knife to shape it based on what the floor requires.
Hardwood Floors Underlayment FAQs
Before we close the discussion, allow our team to briefly go through some of the common questions that a lot of people have about underlayment for hardwood floors.
Is an Underlayment Required for Hardwood Floors?
Despite the benefits of having an underlayment, take note that it is not necessary all the time. For instance, there are some companies with hardwood floors that are already pre-installed with underlayment below them, so there is no need to have them installed on the subfloor.
If the floor is new and if it is already smooth enough and sturdy, you might not need to have an underlayment. However, in most instances, it will be safe to say that you will need underlayment before the installation of hardwood flooring.
Is There a Need for a Vapor Barrier?
This will depend on the underlayment that you are using. The premium options are already equipped with a built-in vapor barrier, so there is no need to install one separately. To add, if the flooring will be installed in kitchens and basements where there is moisture, a vapor barrier is a must.
How Do You Install an Underlayment for Hardwood Floor?
The installation can vary based on the specific product that you will choose, as well as the material of the sub-floor.
In most cases, there are two ways by which you can complete the installation of the underlayment – staple or glue down. This will depend on the material that is used in the underlayment. The two sides are often made differently, so pay attention to which one should be facing up and which one should be facing down.
How Thick Should the Underlayment Be?
In the case of most hardwood floors, it is more than enough to choose underlayment with a thickness of 2 to 3mm. Some manufacturers might claim that thicker is better for sound absorption but that is not always the case as it is not only the thickness that matters to minimize sound.
What Underlayment Suits Different Sub-Floor Materials?
It should be noted that the underlayment of choice does not only depend on the material of the floor but also of the subfloor. If it is made of plywood, for instance, you need protection from moisture, which is why you need dense materials. Permeable or semi-permeable underlayment will work.
On the other hand, if the subfloor is made of concrete, you should choose only impermeable underlayment, making sure that moisture will not reach the hardwood floor.
Before the installation of your hardwood flooring, make sure to choose the right underlayment, including those that have been mentioned above. They will be instrumental in maximizing the quality of your hardwood floor.