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How should I choose laminate flooring underlayment thickness

Dear Bob and Betsy,
I’m struggling to understand how I should choose laminate flooring underlayment thickness. What factors do I need to look out for? How do I decide?
– John C.

Dear John,

Great question! Your underlayment sits between the laminate flooring planks and your subfloor. The type you choose has a big impact on the comfort and life of your flooring, so it is important that you make the right choice for your needs.

What To Keep In Mind

Underlayment provides three core layers of protection, which is important for a successful laminate flooring installation.

  1. Reducing the sound of footsteps and echoing in the room, making your living space quieter.
  2. Adding a cushioning, water-resistant layer to keep excess moisture out and prevent your floors from warping.
  3. Insulating your room so that the hot and cold air cannot seep in through the subfloor.

The Types Of Underlayment

Because your laminate flooring is not permanently glued to the floor, the underlayment plays a crucial role in the comfort and protection of your home. There are a few types of underlayment. Knowing these types can help you distinguish which underlayment is right for your project.

  • Pre-installed underlayment. Some floors come with underlayment pre-installed. Even when the underlayment is pre-installed, you might still want to add a small moisture barrier layer underneath to keep more moisture away from your flooring. This is usually 3mm thick, or 1/8” thick.
  • Standard underlayment. This is the most commonly used underlayment. It is also 3mm thick (1/8” thick) and is best installed over wood subflooring. It only offers basic sound reduction. It does not keep out moisture.
  • 3-in-1 underlayment. This type of underlayment provides all three core benefits in one cushion. It keeps vapors, sound, and any other damaging outside forces away from your flooring. It is easy to install over any type of subfloor. 3-in-1 underlayment is also thinner than the others. It is only 2 mm thick.

Choosing the right underlayment is confusing when you are not sure of the differences between the thickness levels. If you have any other questions while preparing for your flooring installation, please contact us using the comment section below! You will be put in touch with a flooring expert for individualized help in selecting the perfect underlayment for your needs.

Learn More:

*This post was updated from 2014 to give you a better reading experience!

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  1. Hi there,
    We are renavating a house and need to know in a 10 year old boy and a 3 year old boy, Can I put Laminate flooring on top of press wood or partacle board?
    If I can what underlayment do I need to put down first? ?? Thanks

    • Hi Patty, thanks for reaching out. Laminate flooring can certainly be installed on top of a plywood subfloor. Since laminate is a floating floor, you will need to install underlayment to allow the floor to float. We recommend our Standard Underlayment, which will allow your floor to float, even out minor imperfections in the sub-floor and absorb sound when walking on the floor. Here is the link for your reference:

  2. Hello. Me and my wife are using 12mm thick laminate and are placing it over a wood subfloor. Is it okay to use a underlayment that contains a vapor barrier. it seems it hard to find underlayment that is quiet without the vapor barrier.

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Mark, thanks for the question. Yes, it is totally fine to use an underlayment with a vapor barrier. You don’t necessarily need one with a wood subfloor, but it doesn’t hurt to have one! Best of luck with your project.

      • Hello , me and my wife doing living room renovation and we can not extend the height of the balcony door as it’s on max at present . However thickness of the floor is limited by 13 mm in total . What will be right to choose 8 mm laminate with 5 mm underlay or 10mm laminate with 3 mm underlay?

        • Hi Levon, thanks for your question. We would recommend a 10mm laminate with a 3mm underlayment, and using a transition piece from the balcony door. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 800-520-0961.

  3. Hi there, my husband and I are putting 8mm laminate in two bedrooms. We are putting it over concrete flooring. We don’t want to buy overkill underlayment and waiste money. Is 2mm with 3 in one protection. Or should we go with 3 mm. They sell both , but of course the 3mm is more. What are your recommendations.

  4. I didn’t know that laminate flooring could help make our living space quieter like you said! My wife and I have been looking for a new floor for our home to change things up a little bit, and I think that laminate could be really good for us. Our current floors are loud, so having quiet laminate floors would be a welcome change for us! Thanks for the help!

  5. I appreciate your site. I attempted putting laminate in my den three years ago, but found the particleboard floor was uneven in some places causing the laminate to bounce as you mention. I tried using roofing felt paper and got most of the room done, but being a perfectionist, I stopped and ended up pulling it up and selling the laminate. Now I have read a few places a person can put padding down in spots to avoid the bouncing. Pergo flooring comes with padding so if I recall right, they don’t encourage putting pad under their product. Leveling compound is out due to the particleboard. So is padding a viable solution. We are not talking big dips, but maybe 1/8 -3/16″ in some places. Enough I could tell the laminate was being pushed down when walking on it.

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Tom! Thanks for your question. It will depend on which type of laminate you purchase. You can find Pergo flooring without underlayment attached, which will allow you to purchase a premium laminate that could help even out your subfloor. If you have a laminate with attached underlayment, it is not recommended to add additional padding underneath. You may want to consider fixing your subfloor with an additional OSB layer or sanding the subfloor to improve the levelness (depending on the thickness). Feel free to give one of our flooring experts a call at 800-520-0961 if you have additional concerns!

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