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  • Writer's pictureFloors Depot Team

What is the Best Underlayment for Laminate Flooring?

Best Underlayment Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is a composite flooring product that is a very popular substitute for hardwood when price or other factors don’t allow for it. Millions of homes now use laminate flooring as their main flooring product.

Just as with other products like vinyl, many people ask: do I need underlayment for my laminate floor? Despite what you might have read in some places online or even heard from some stores, the answer is almost always yes! Selecting and installing the correct underlayment is an important part of any successful laminate installation.

Types Of Laminate Underlayment

What is underlayment? Underlayment is a thin layer of material that is placed between your laminate and the subfloor beneath. This padding under laminate flooring has a few critical jobs:

  • Providing an even installation surface

  • Protects and cushions your floor

  • Reduces noise

  • Improves insulation

  • To control moisture as a vapour barrier

Here are the most common types of underlayment for laminate flooring:

  • Foam

  • Combination Foam

  • Cork

Additionally, some laminate flooring will come with underlayment already attached to the sections, called laminate backing. With this product, you won’t have a choice of which material to use – so make sure the underlayment is appropriate for your subfloor using our next section.

Subfloors Specifications

One of the most important factors when selecting an underlayment is your type of subfloor. A subfloor is whatever is going to lie underneath your floor and gives the room its structure. Your subfloor could be concrete, plywood, or even another floor!

Here are some common types of subfloors and what they require in terms of underlayment:

  • Concrete: Concrete is a very common subfloor to encounter, particularly in rooms where laminate is popular, such as basements. Concrete will naturally allow moisture to seep up from below. While laminate is resistant to moisture, over time this can damage the flooring, or worse, lead to buildups of mould or mildew. If you have concrete floors, it’s critical that you pick a waterproof underlay for your laminate flooring. Make sure that whichever material you choose will act as a vapour barrier. A combination foam underlayment made of standard foam combined with an impermeable layer to keep out moisture is a popular choice.

  • Plywood: Unlike with concrete, you should never use an underlayment with a vapour barrier if your subfloor is plywood. Wood naturally absorbs and emits moisture as the seasons and temperatures change, and blocking the exchange of moisture with the air can cause your plywood to become waterlogged, leading to mould or mildew or even buckling. With a plywood subfloor, a foam underlay is the most common choice for laminate flooring. However, cork can also be used. Cork is an expensive material, but it provides more cushioning and has natural antimicrobial properties.

Choosing The Best Underlayment For Laminate Flooring

When choosing an underlayment, the first step is to check with your manufacturer or supplier. Your manufacturer might recommend a certain type of underlayment to accompany your laminate floor. You might even have to use a certain type to avoid voiding your warranty! The best underlay for laminate flooring is the one compatible with your product.

This is why it is always a good idea to evaluate your subfloor first. Based on your type of subfloor, the section above should give you some guidance on selecting the appropriate underlayment.

However, there are a few other factors that you should also consider when selecting underlayment:

  • Noise: One job of underlayment is to reduce or prevent noise transmission. If your laminate floor will be in a high-traffic area, or located on the second floor, you may wish for a product that better insulates against sound. This is also true if you install laminate flooring on your stair treads.

  • Heat: As laminate flooring is a poor insulator, your underlayment also needs to help prevent heat transmission. Underlayment is rated according to an “R-value”, with higher values being better insulators. If you live in a cold climate, it pays to select a higher R-value – you’ll save on your heating bills!

  • Level: If your floor isn’t perfectly level, a rigid underlayment can be used to level it out as part of your laminate installation.


If you’re interested in installing laminate flooring, you should start thinking about the right choice of underlayment at the same time, based on factors like your subfloor, climate, and the need to reduce noise. This ensures that you can find a compatible combination of flooring and underlayment.

We hope this post helped you understand the importance of underlayment in a laminate installation! With the right underlayment, you’ll get the most out of your installation for years to come.


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