Walking on a creaky floor just feels off… it makes the floors quality just seem… poor. However, the quality of the floor could actually be excellent. If so, what else could be causing this uncomfortable creaking noise? The creaking could actually be caused by whats underneath the floor, the sub-floor. Imperfections in the sub-floor can cause your planks to bend and bending can cause creaking. Underlayment can easily fix minor imperfections, which leads us to our first purpose of underlayment.
Sound Reduction & Noise Dampening
Underlayment can cover the minor imperfections of the sub-floor making the height difference less dramatic, preventing creaks and squeaks. For click-together flooring, underlayment supports the click-lock system preventing any potential noise issues.
Underlayment also dampens the noise that travels room-to-room. A nice dense underlayment will absorb sound better than a thin one. This means that people walking around upstairs footsteps will be dampened, and even sound from the room beside you will be dampened. All these benefits contribute to your floor sounding sturdy underfoot.
Compression resistance put simply, is what protects your floors from impacts. Constant foot traffic on your flooring can risk developing signs of wear. Your flooring can become dented in areas and ultimately, uneven. A quality underlayment will help absorb the impact of constant foot traffic and extend the life of your floors tremendously!
Moisture Protection (particularly with concrete sub-floor)
Some underlayments come with a pre-attached moisture barrier. You might be wondering why would I need a moisture barrier? Well with wooden sub-floors the moisture barrier is meant to protect your sub-floor from spills. The moisture barrier prevents liquid from getting to and swelling your wooden sub-floor.
While dealing with concrete sub-floors, the goal of the moisture barrier is to prevent moisture from making contact with the bottom side of your flooring. If you have moisture sensitive flooring with no moisture barrier on a concrete sub-floor, your floors will be exposed to moisture from the concrete and will swell and even possibly start to mold. If you install floors resilient to moisture so you don’t need a moisture barrier, it is still best to have one. The moisture will affect the air in your basement, making the humidity higher.
The insulation of underlayments is measured through R-value. R-value is a rating based off the rate of heat transfer a material allows. The higher the number, the better and the warmer your floor will feel underfoot. A high R-value protects floors from a chilly feeling in the winter months and prevents the cold concrete sub-floors from taking heat away from the floors you walk on.
Allows for Heated Floors
Underlayment should be designed to work well with the use of radiant floor heating. Just like previously mentioned, a high R-value you benefit you in the category too. The underlayment will provide a thermal barrier between your sub-floor and surface flooring. This means heat will be forced upward into your floors, instead of being able to leak into the sub-floor, making your system warmer and more efficient.
Important Considerations to Remember
Underlayment should be reasonably priced. Underlayment is designed to provide extra benefits, not cost you the price of a second floor.
Make sure the underlayment is safe! The air quality of your home is a big deal. It is important to look for safety certifications for indoor air quality tests. You and your family should not have to live with feelings of sickness because of poor air quality.
Finally, certain underlayments work better with certain types of flooring. We have gathered the best types of underlayments for each type of flooring.