Underlayment is an important part of flooring installation for a number of reasons. Comfort, protection from moisture, flexibility, and imperfections in the subfloor are just a few. Furthermore, the type of underlayment you install is determined by the type of flooring you select for your home. For example, tile requires a different type of underlayment than carpet, which requires a different type than hardwood, and so on and so forth. In addition, appropriate underlayment material is also determined by factors like sound transmission, water, and pet accidents (urine stains) that can result in unpleasant odors from bacterial growth. Underlayment products are also subject to varying degrees of thickness, which affects both the durability of the floor and also the cost. If you are considering installing new flooring, discover what kind of underlayment is best for your floor.
What Kind of Underlayment is Best For Your Floor
Underlayment for Carpet
Foam or rubber padding are the go-to materials for carpet underlayment. In most cases, carpet underlayment is made to include a moisture barrier, especially in basements where flooding is more likely to occur. That said, the type of carpet you install also affects the padding you should use. For example, Berber carpet requires a thinner pad than Plush or Frieze.
Underlayment for Tile
Tile underlayment must be able to withstand a number of factors. It must be strong enough to provide support when walked on, but flexible enough so as not to crack. In addition, tile underlayment must also be flexible in order to allow for contraction and expansion from changes in room temperature and humidity. As a result, cement board underlayment is most often recommended for tile flooring.
Underlayment for Laminate
Moisture resistance and stability are the two biggest factors that determine underlayment for laminate flooring. In addition, sound absorption is another important factor for laminate underlayment. Foam is typically recommended for laminate underlayment, which may include cork or polypropylene material.
Underlayment for Hardwood
Most experts recommend underlayment made from felt, rubber, or cork material for hardwood flooring. Plywood is another underlayment option, but this is more appropriate for LVT (vinyl) flooring. Felt tends to be the top choice for hardwood because it is both dense, and offers effective moisture resistance, especially in basement settings. Note that if you live in an area of high humidity, an additional moisture barrier is recommended.