Home Underlayment Why do I need underlayment for laminate flooring installation?

Why do I need underlayment for laminate flooring installation?

by Bestlaminate
Published: Last Updated on 31 comments 4 minutes read

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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TJ June 17, 2022 - 3:32 pm

What are the Floor laminates and underlay distance -s from the walls for expansion purposes?

Rachel Vahcic June 22, 2022 - 9:00 am

Thanks for your question, TJ. We recommend leaving a 1/4 inch expansion gap from the walls.

Ron thomas May 26, 2021 - 9:32 pm

I have a floor man doing my floor but he did not use the blue wrapping the underlay of the he only use the black what is the significance of leaving out the blue I have a concrete slab floor

Vanessa June 25, 2021 - 3:23 pm

Hi Ron, If he was installing laminate, you are required to have an underlayment. If you are installing vinyl, you are not required to use an underlayment. The underlayment helps the laminate float, allowing it to expand and contract. In most cases, underlayment will also have a vapor barrier which keeps any moisture away from the laminate planks.

Types of Flooring - How to Choose The Best Floor. - Poetry Homes March 11, 2021 - 1:53 pm

[…] place. The subfloor will prevent warping and provide a smooth surface to install the material. The most common underlays are foam, cork (for sound resistance), cement board and […]

Wendy Turner April 16, 2020 - 7:29 pm

How would you put a floating floor over tiles? Need underlay?

Alana Kane April 19, 2020 - 12:29 pm

Hi Wendy, thanks for the question. First, you will need to make sure the tile is level. You’ll need to fill in the grout lines if they are deep. If you are installing laminate, you will need a standard underlayment – no need for a vapor barrier. A vinyl can be installed directly over the tile once it is level.

Tyrone Campbell March 14, 2020 - 5:44 pm

I have already laid a high-grade locking laminate flooring but I put Kilz on the wood the wood was dry and no moisture found it is already installed will I have a problem with this high grade flooring in the future and the flooring is waterproof

Alana Kane March 30, 2020 - 6:07 am

Hi Tyrone, thanks for the question. Is the Kilz a sealant? We never recommend adding sealant or polish to a laminate, as the top layer is not natural wood. You may have problems with expansion if the polish adhered within the locking systems.

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