Benefits to Look for in Underlayment

When you purchase flooring, you’re investing in your living space. Laminate flooring, on average, lasts around ten years. However, if properly maintained, Laminate flooring has been known to last up to 30 years! Not installing an underlayment could mean hearing creaks and having an uncomfortable floor for ten years. Where installing underlayment will give you a comfortable floor for years to come. In this article, I’ll go over the benefits to look for in underlayment.

Sound Reduction

A dreaded experience for many homeowners is sound traveling throughout the house. People upstairs can be heard walking around. You can hear someone’s YouTube video in the room beside you. Or even your floors creak and crack as you walk across them. The issue can be easily avoided through a high-quality underlayment. A high-quality underlayment will prevent unwanted noise from your flooring and dampen the noise traveling from room to room. There are three standard measurements used to determine how effective an underlayment dampens noise.

You may be wondering, “what are examples of ratings I should look for?” I created this chart to demonstrate.

sound-ratings-made-simple-infographic

Moisture Protection

Moisture damage can warp and cause your flooring to rot. With how big of an investment new flooring can be, it is not worth the risk of losing it all to moisture! If you are installing over a concrete sub-floor, we highly recommend an attached moisture barrier. Some underlayments will have a built-in vapor barrier that blocks moisture from reaching your flooring. You can add a 6-mil vapor barrier for total protection from any moisture.

Compression Resistance

Compression resistance is crucial for the longevity of your floor. Without any extra support, your floor is more susceptible to denting and bending over time. During installation, cheaper underlayments often are crushed by work boots or knee pads. As a result, they lose the majority of their support and noise dampening properties. Fiber/felt underlayments do the best in this category because of the materials they are made from. Dense fibers bonded together naturally do better than something like foam. Where the cushion comes from trapped air, which eventually is forced out, leaving the underlayment flattened.

Ease of Installation

One factor that many people easily forget about is the ease of installation. Some thinner foam underlayments can have trouble laying out flat on their own. I’ve also had them rip on me while moving around during the floor installation, and are thick enough to withstand the rest of the installation. This is where fiber/felt underlayments have another strong suit. They are dense enough to lay flat off the bat. Another helpful inclusion is pre-attached tape. If you are taping rows of underlayment, you don’t have to worry about bringing an underlayment tape or duct tape. An easy installation saves everyone time and money!

Insulation Value / Approved for In-Floor Heating Systems

Nobody likes feeling their feet hitting a frigid floor. The right underlayment can help insulate your flooring during the cold winter months. Underlayments that feature a high R-Value (higher number, the better) will do a better job insulating.

For Heating that will sit above the underlayment, a high R-Value will help force the hit up into your floors. This barrier helps prevent heat leakage into the sub-floor. In turn, your heating system heats up faster and becomes more energy efficient.

Certified for Clean and Safe Indoor Air Quality

Anything you put in your home should be safe for your family’s health. Flooring underlayment should not give off any unusual or weird smells. It is worth looking for some certification for indoor air quality testing. A well known indoor air quality certification is GreenGuard Gold. Having clean indoor underlayment can prevent any headaches or future health issues.

Final Considerations

No matter the benefits, it is always best to follow your flooring manufacturer’s instructions when choosing an underlayment. If you are overwhelmed with information, it is best to select a few of the benefits most important to you and choose an underlayment based on them. Suppose I had to recommend an underlayment that covers the most benefits mentioned above. I would select QuietWalk’s Fiber Underlayment as it provides excellent benefits in all of the categories.

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