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Why do I need underlayment for laminate flooring installation?

Underlayment for laminate flooring is a must. Since laminate is a floating floor, it must be evenly distributed across your subfloor. Underlayment is what allows the floor to float, gives it stability, support, noise reduction, and supports the locking systems in between planks to assure the sturdiest flooring project. There are a number of different underlayment options and selecting the right one for your project can get somewhat complicated.

How to Choose Your Underlayment

The best way to determine which underlayment you need is by looking at your subfloor. The two most common subfloors are wood and cement and there are special differences you must pay attention to when looking for the proper underlayment.

Wood Subfloor

If you are installing laminate flooring on a wood subfloor, you should use a standard to the premium underlayment. If you wood subfloor is pretty sturdy, you won’t need any special underlayment. If your subfloor is a little uneven or creaky, you may want to get a premium underlayment that has noise reduction and cushion capabilities. Here are a few options:

Cement Subfloor

If you are installing laminate flooring on a cement subfloor, you should use a vapor underlayment. Vapor underlayments protect your flooring from any moisture that could seep up from the cement subfloor. You should also use one of these underlayments if you are installing in a below-ground level installation to help with moisture control. Here are a few options:

Some Exceptions

Pre Attached Underlayment

Pay close attention to the back of your laminate flooring. If you have purchased a laminate flooring that has underlayment already attached, then you should not use extra underlayment. Having too much cushion can destroy the integrity of the locking system and cause the floor to become unstable. There are some exceptions to pay attention to, however.

Wood Subfloor

If you are installing laminate flooring with pre-attached underlayment on a wood subfloor, you do not need any additional underlayment. The attached underlayment will allow your flooring to float just as standard underlayment would. Be sure to prepare your subfloor before installation to assure a seamless and smooth surface.

Cement Subfloor

If you are installing laminate flooring with pre-attached underlayment on a cement subfloor, you need to install a vapor barrier to prevent moisture from seeping up through the subfloor. Do not install a vapor barrier that has extra cushioning. Here are your options:

If you have any questions about underlayments, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment in the section below and we will answer it! If you’re ready to make a purchase, but still have a few questions, you can call us at 1-800-520-0961 and our sales representative will be able to assist you!


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

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Bestlaminate’s blog is dedicated to you by making the home improvement process easier and more affordable. We hope to make your home remodeling and maintaining a more positive experience.

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  1. I plan to lay laminate flooring over old vinyl flooring. Is there any need for additional underlayment?

    • Hi Shawn, thanks for reaching out. Is your existing vinyl flooring a floating floor or glue down? If it is floating, we recommend removing the vinyl and installing the new laminate directly on your subfloor. Installing a floating floor on top of an existing floating floor could lead to issues down the road and your warranty may be voided. If the existing vinyl is glued down, you can go ahead and install the new laminate on top, and use a standard underlayment. This underlayment will provide cushion for your flooring and allow it to float on top of the vinyl. Here is an underlayment we recommend:

  2. I have a “poured floor” and I want to lay a laminate floor on it. Do I need underlayment?

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Sharon, thanks for the question. Yes, if you have a concrete subfloor, you can lay laminate over top with a vapor barrier underlayment. You will need to test the concrete for moisture before installation. If I am mis-understanding what a poured floor means, please let me know!

  3. I want to install laminate floors. I didn’t realize that they need to have underlayment! I think I’m going to rely on a professional to handle this stuff for me. I feel like I’ll make a mistake and mess it all up.

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