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Do I Need Laminate Flooring Underlayment?

Do I Need Laminate Flooring Underlayment?

One of the most common laminate flooring questions is ‘Do I need laminate flooring underlayment?’ Laminate flooring underlayment is essential for installation as it allows to laminate flooring to expand and contract properly on top of the subfloor. Laminate is a wood product and will expand according to the climate of the room. Having proper underlayment will help protect your flooring from the climate and prevent warping due to expansion.

When Should You Install Underlayment?

  • When you install any laminate flooring that will be floating over the subfloor
  • Your subfloor has minor imperfections
  • When you need sound absorption
  • When you need moisture protection when installing over a cement sub-floor

Which Underlayment should I use?

When Should You NOT Install Underlayment?

  • When your laminate flooring has underlayment attached
    • The only exception is installing a vapor barrier that does not have excess padding over a cement subfloor
  • When the flooring manufacturer tells you you do not need underlayment for the installation
  • When installing most vinyl floorings
  • When installing a flooring that will be directly glued or stapled to the subfloor

How To Install 2in1 Vapor Barrier Floor Underlayment: Inspect your subfloor

Choosing The Correct Underlayment

There are different types and thicknesses of underlayment. Type of your sub-floor plays the main role when choosing right underlayment for your floor. When selecting underlayment, be certain to use only the type specifically designed for this purpose. You can not use carpet underlayment for laminate flooring installation- too thick padding may damage or make unstable locking system, so stay away from it. Generally all manufacturers are recommending use of maximum 3mm thick underlayment. Installation of flooring underlayment is easy as 1-2-3, all you have to do to is to measure, cut and lay down your padding.

If you need help with selecting proper underlayment, check our guide below:

After you’ve selected your underlayment, you should know how to install it properly. Check out our installation tutorials to complete your underlayment knowledge!

Learn More About Underlayment:

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19 comments

  1. We have purchased a new laminate floor to be installed this week in our house, which comes with a cushy pad at the bottom of the pieces…we have also purchased a premium upgraded extra underlayment pad, alongwith the plastic Visqueen plastic vapor barrior sheet…do we absolutely need the extra premium pad? What about concrete level imperfections? Does the extra underlayment padding make up for or fill these areas for smoother more consistent and levelness of the floor? Please let me know your professional thoughts, thank you.
    Savannah

    • Hi Savannah, thank you for your question. We don’t recommend anything above 3mm underlayment underneath laminate because if it is too thick it will eventually cause your laminate to buckle. If you laminate already has the underlayment attached and you are going over concrete then all you would need is the plastic visqueen vapor barrier. If you are going over a wood sub-floor and if your laminate already has the pad attached then no more underlayment is required. If you concrete imperfections are not major (no more than 1/2″) I wouldn’t worry about it too much it should be fine. If the imperfections are major (more than 1/2″) then you would want to level the spots with concrete mix or self- leveler to level it out. Best of Luck. – Brittany

  2. I would like to buy some thin flooring foam rubber underlay, but I only need 2m x 450. Could you please tell me your address. My ph 09 3765514

  3. Must I remove the carpet before installing laminate flooring? If removing it is not necessary, can I install on top of the carpet without underlayment?

    Thanks in advance for the help.

    • Hi Zhi! Thanks for your question. If it is commercial carpet that is very thin and glued down to cement and there is no padding underneath it then you don’t have to remove the carpet, but if it is just normal carpet with the padding then yes you should absolutely remove the carpet and use the recommended underlayment depending on if you are going over wood or concrete. I hope this helps. Good Luck. – Brittany

  4. I am purchasing laminate flooring for a 2nd floor bedroom. It currently has carpeting which will be ripped out. I know there are not hardwoods underneath, but not sure what IS under it. The flooring I am looking to purchase has an attached pad. While this will be a guest room and not used ALL the time, I am not concerned about excessive noise. I am just concerned because I am now also reading about moisture etc. Should this be a concern for a 2nd floor bedroom? Thanks!

    • Hi Angela, Thank you for your question. The noise level will depend on what you are putting the laminate down on and if it is a sturdy subfloor, etc. if it is not a sturdy floor you are going to want to purchase a thicker floor if it is a sturdy subfloor you are able to get any thickness you desire. If there is moisture coming up from the room that you are laying the laminate in you are going to want to get a moisture barrier to protect your laminate. I hope this helps. -Brittany

  5. Our upstairs neighbor laid down laminate flooring. Sine then we hear everything, ie children running, pulling chair out from table etc.. Is there a fix to this or what kind of sound barrier should the unit owner have used

    • Deborah, unfortunately if you are hearing noises there is not really a way to quiet them down too much. Even if he used the best padding available you would still hear some noises. I would call your apartment/condo association to ask them what sound rating padding is required for their buildings and make sure that your neighbors used padding that exceeded the sound rating required for your building.

  6. Hi Fred,

    My laminate has rubber pad. Can I use 3mm foam underlayment foam to enhance noise reduction in addition to attached pad?

    thank you

    • Hello Hiep, In most cases the use of an additional underlayment underneath of laminate with pre-attached padding will not only void the warranty but it will also most likely cause your floor to feel flimsy because of too much cushion underneath. I would not recommend for you to put underlayment underneath of your laminate. If you are installing your flooring on a concrete slab subfloor then you will need to lay down a Visqueen vapor barrier underneath of your flooring to act as a vapor barrier. Thank you for your question. Fred

  7. I have Laminate flooring with the pad attached. Should I lay it over a 6mil plastic (laying over a ground floor concete)

    • Fred

      Areone, yes you need at least a 6mil plastic underlayment, also known as Visqueen, underneath your laminate flooring. The padding that is attached to your flooring is not suitable by itself as a moisture barrier.

  8. I have had laminate flooring installed in a room built on a concrete floor (the last week of June, 2011). Twice I have had to call the flooring company to have them fix my buckling floor. They seem to be perplexed by the problem. The moisture barrier they put down has a plastic like substance on one side and a heavy felt like material on the other side . WHICH SIDE SHOULD LAY ON TOP OF THE CONCRETE THE FELT OR THE PLASTIC ?
    I would greatly appreciate a quick response before this company decides to tear up my flooring.
    THANK YOU,
    JACKIE DUICK

    • Fred

      Jackie, normally the plastic faces the concrete and the felt part faces up however I do not know which manufacturer made the underlayment so I would check with the manufacturer on that issue. In regards to the buckling that is usually caused by too small of an expansion gap. Make sure that the expansion gap along the wall is at least 1/4″ along the entire perimeter of your flooring installation. If the total area is greater than 500 sq.ft. then the expansion gap should be at least 3/8″. I hope that they can figure out your problem but from my experience I believe that it is related to the expansion gap. Good Luck.
      Fred

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