Best Underlayment For Laminate Flooring

When you decide to install laminate flooring in your home, you may be surprised that you need to worry more about the laminate itself.  Laminate is a pretty, colorful and shiny piece of art from all your hard work and hard-earned money.

But under that shiny floor, you need to check for plating problems.

What is the bottom layer?  It is a layer of material that covers imperfections in the subfloor, reduces sound, and can provide other benefits, such as comfort or sound absorption, for the finished project.

The laminate you choose may already have an undercoat.  Some do.  If so, that’s probably all you need.  You should check with your installer or the shop you are shopping in to find out.

However, if the flooring you choose doesn’t have an undercoat, or if you’d like the added quality offered, you can purchase and install one of the products we discuss below.

There’s a lot to consider when you’re deciding which substrate is right for you, and we’ve done our best to answer any questions you may have about the different options.

Read on to learn more: in each category you will find out what they are, what are the benefits, what costs are usually incurred, and the big brands to look for.

Foam

What is that?

Foam is the most basic type of base coat. You have the most variety of options with foam underlay.

Advantage

Many types of undercoat foam have a moisture / vapor barrier that won’t save your laminate from flooding, but can protect your subfloor.  You can also find types of foam pads that include fibers and rubber that help absorb sound as it passes through the floor.

Foam liners are easy enough to install, even for self-employed beginners.  It comes in large rolls, and you just have to cut the desired amount with a knife or utility scissors to make it fit.

How much it costs?

Foam liners typically cost anywhere from $ 0.22 to $ 0.30 per square foot for base foam, and can range from $ 0.30 to $ 0.45 per square foot for sound suppression or moisture retardant types.

The best selling and most popular brand

QEP Roberts is a popular undercoat choice, and offers more than one type, including the ones that offer the moisture barrier and sound absorption we listed above.  For those interested in environmental concerns, Courey’s Eco-friendly foam undercoat is made with 100% post-consumer recycled rubber tires.  It’s not only recyclable, but also 100% recyclable.

Cork

What is that?

Cork is a type of natural upholstery made from the bark of the cork tree.  Most of the high quality cork comes from Portugal.  Cork underlayments are usually available in 3 or 6mm thickness.  If a moisture barrier is important to you, look for varieties with that feature.

Advantage

One of the biggest advantages of cork is its ability to absorb sound.  If you install laminate upstairs or in an apartment with a neighbor downstairs, this natural material can prove to be very effective for sound control.

Cork is also an effective way of adding insulation to your home, keeping heat and cold in, and providing a barrier in the floor to keep heat and cold out.

Cork is also a very eco-friendly choice because it is a natural material that is harvested from the bark of the tree.  This means that the harvest does not harm the tree and the tree remains alive, with the bark growing back over time.  Corks are also very durable, and won’t need to be replaced for decades.

Cork also has allergy properties which make it a good choice for households with allergy sufferers.  The anti-microbial properties of cork inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew, which can create a healthier home environment.

Lastly, cork is fireproof, offering added safety benefits.

How much it costs?

Cork underlayments range from $ 0.50 to $ 0.75 per square foot.

Best selling and popular brand

QEP Roberts (mentioned above) and various other companies sell cork coatings, such as AcoustiCORK, and WidgetCo.  Interestingly, Eco-Cork offers a hybrid cork / foam product called Eco-Cork Foam which offers the advantages of both types of undercoat.

Felt

What is that?

Felt is considered the “gold standard” of undercoat and is the most traditional choice.  The felt is made from recycled fiber and is generally 3 mm thick.  It is significantly heavier and easier to grind than foam or cork.

Advantage

The weight and density of felt make them excellent sound absorbers.  It is the best sound suppressor of the three main options.  Most of the reviews and installers consider this the main selling point of the felt undercoat.

Felt also serves as an excellent insulator, keeping your heating and cooling in the house where you want to live.

Many feel that feel also does a better job of cushioning the floor and providing a more comfortable experience for walking and standing.

Because it is made from recycled fiber, the flannel undercoat is also a LEED certified, environmentally friendly option.

How much it costs?

Felt underlayments are available for between $ 0.75 and $ 1.25 per square foot.

Best selling and popular brand

As above, QEP Roberts offers a popular undercoat of felt with a moisture barrier and a handy strip of tape for attaching one roll to another.  Bellawood also offers popular and widely available anti-microbial treatments.

Conclusion

If you are installing laminate, you may not need to add an undercoat, as it may adhere to the floor itself.

However, if you’re looking for some of the upholstery benefits, soundproofing health or comfort, and if your floor doesn’t have an upholstery, you should consider the three options above.

Foam is your cheapest option, but it is the least environmentally responsible.  Cork is a great middle choice, a natural choice that has health and safety benefits.  Felt is a traditional industry standard, offering many of the same benefits as cork, but at a higher price.

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