What is the best underlay for laminate flooring or Wood Floor?

does vinyl laminate and wooden flooring need underlay

Whether you’re fitting carpet or laminate, underlay is crucial to getting the best experience out of your new flooring. It’s especially important if your sub-floor is made of concrete as the underlay helps to prevent moisture and damp from impacting your flooring and ensures it lasts longer. It will also help to smooth out your flooring making it the perfect surface for laying your floor.

Underlay also acts as a thermal insulator, keeping your house warmer for longer and at less cost. This is important with laminate as it can potentially make your house feel colder during winter. Underlay also works as acoustic insulation, which is valuable with a wood floor as it can otherwise become quite loud.

Products related to this article

Work out whether you need underlay for wood, laminate and vinyl flooring

Most wood flooring needs underlay for many different reasons, and this is exactly what we are going to cover in this article.

After reading this article you will have a clear idea which underlay you need.

Finding the right product for wood can be tricky and the decision can be more complicated than it is for carpet. This is because wood varies so much and comes in so many different forms.

Keep reading to find out if you need underlay for your wood floor or if you are spending money when you don’t need to.

Download our FREE Underlay decision tool

Be sure to choose which underlay is best for your needs.

Find the right underlay product based on floor type, warmth rating, soundproofing or thickness.

See which products are best for which room or stairs


What is the best underlay for engineered wood?

Engineered wood is a man-made material that is made from a variation of derivative wood products. It can be produced in several ways by combining these elements together with different methods of fixation.

As the floating floor method is usually used with engineered wood, this makes it much easier to fit the underlay and the wood.

A benefit  is that most normal underlays can be used with it. Here is our top recommendation:


Duralay heat flow

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  1. The best thermal conductivity – this underlay not only has a low tog of 0.35 meaning it’s the perfect choice for underfloor heating. but it also incorporates ThermylinTM which gives it excellent thermal conductivity for underfloor heating.
  2. Noise reduction – the rating of 21db allows this product to do a fantastic job of reducing impact noise reduction from high foot traffic.
  3. Outstanding durability for heavy contract use – this is a premium quality product that can be used for domestic or contract use.

Which is best for solid wood flooring?

Super Gold

As solid wood is much thicker, there is not as much need for underlay as there is for laminate flooring. However, it is still extremely beneficial and here are a few reasons to purchase underlay for your solid wood boards:

  • Subfloor imperfections – If your subfloor is slightly uneven or has a few minor imperfections, a high-quality underlay can help to smooth things out.
  • Noise reduction – This is especially necessary for wood flooring as the footfall is so much louder than it is for carpet.
  • Heat insulation – Wood is not the best material to keep heat in your home so rely on underlay to keep you cosy.
  • Shock absorption – One of the biggest benefits of underlay. A good quality product will absorb the shock from foot traffic which will prolong the life of your flooring.

Cloud 9 Cirrus Underlay for stairs

Buy Super Gold 5mm for wood or laminate

Super Gold is the thickest underlay you can put under laminate or wood flooring. The main benefit of a thicker product is the warmth properties it has. It has a built in damp proof membrane so works great when laying on concrete floors for example kitchens and other downstairs rooms. It also works well in upstairs rooms on wooden floor boards.

Super Gold is a great choice

The Super Gold underlay is perfect for solid wood flooring, here are its top benefits:

  1. Moisture protection – the built-in plastic vapour barrier protects against moisture that is up to 75% relative humidity. This makes it a great product for areas such as the kitchen, conservatory or lounge.
  2. Warmth and thickness – 5mm is the thickest you can go for laminate which means this product will provide the ultimate cushioning and warmth.
  3. Noise reduction – the rating of 22db allows this product to greatly reduce the sound of impact noise in your home.
  4. Value for money – for the premium quality of this product it is fantastic value for money.


So what about for laminate flooring?

No matter what type of laminate flooring you are installing, it is always recommended to accompany it with underlay. This is because laminate flooring is usually no thicker than 12mm, which is pretty thin when it comes to flooring and makes it vulnerable to damage over time.

Underlay will absorb the shock from foot traffic and protect your laminate flooring through wear and tear. You will also benefit from sound reduction, heat insulation and extra comfort.

For laminate flooring we recommend the Combat Plus 3mm. Here are its top benefits:

Cloud 9 Cirrus Underlay for stairs

Buy Laminate 3mm for wood or laminate

Laminate 3mm has a built in damp proof membrane so works great when laying on concrete, for example kitchens and other downstairs rooms. It also works well in upstairs rooms on wooden floor boards.



Combat Plus 3mm works wonders under laminate

  1. Built-in water repellent feature – the built-in damp proof membrane (DPM) repels water and protects flooring against excess water.
  2. Thermal conductivity – the low tog rating gives this product excellent thermal conductivity for underfloor heating.
  3. Sound reduction – the rating of 19db allows this underlay to reduce impact noise in your home.


Do you need underlay for vinyl flooring?

Quick Therm Laminate Underlay

This really depends on the type of vinyl you are installing. If you are using click lock, then underlay can be installed with vinyl that is at least 4mm thick.

If you install underlay with vinyl that is less than 4mm thick, it is at a higher risk of being punctured.

Always your vinyl to make sure it is suitable for underlayment. If fitted correctly, it will provide some cushioning and protect your flooring.

For vinyl we recommend the Quick Therm laminate underlay, here’s why:


Quick Therm Laminate Underlay

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  1. Low tog – the low tog of 0.35 makes this a great product for underfloor heating.
  2. Material – the high quality perforated poly-foam material also contributes to its thermal conductivity and it allows the underlay to absorb shock from foot traffic.
  3. Noise reduction – with a rating of 19db, this product does an excellent job of reducing impact noise reduction.
  4. Outstanding durability – this underlay has an incredibly high load-bearing capacity which makes it ideal for both contract and domestic use. It will do a fantastic job of protecting your new investment and will last through wear and tear.

If you are installing glue down vinyl, underlay is not required. All you need to do is make sure that the subfloor is clean and debris free.

Underlay is also not required if you are fitting loose lay vinyl planks. This type of vinyl is very easy to fit and can be installed without glue or locking.

So what type should you choose when it comes to laying laminate? It all comes down to what room you’ll be laying it in and how often it’ll be used. If it is an attic room or spare room, you may want to opt for a basic laminate underlay that is both low-cost and great quality.

Choosing for areas of high usage or foot traffic

Duraly HeatflowFor a downstairs living room or dining room that is in constant use, many people opt for a Duralay Heatflow laminate underlay. It’s beautifully thick at 2.75mm with a sponge rubber construction. This is particularly high-quality and helps to keep rooms insulated.


sonic classicFor bedrooms where there may be a lot of walking around, you’ll want to have an underlay with great acoustic properties. Otherwise, those sitting downstairs will spend most their time listening to footsteps. That’s why the Super Gold is one of the go-to options for underlay for laminate flooring.



Quality is important, here’s why

Save money when buying in bulk with great offers available from shop prices. It is ideal for stairs too where there is a lot of footfall and noise, but can still be used in rooms such as the lounge, study, dining room and kitchen if you want to save money by using the same underlay throughout your whole house.

All coverings need padding, even laminate flooring.  Choosing the right laminate underlay is almost as important as choosing the quality of the floor covering itself.

On top of this, manufacturers of this type of flooring often recommend what padding to use and if you do not listen to their recommendations, a warranty may become void.

A damaged will then be a complete waste of money and may be expensive to put right. If you should choose a basic product, you should only use it in bedrooms or, rooms that are not on the ground floor.

The reason for this is that this type will almost certainly not have a moisture barrier.

Remember though it’s not a problem choosing a product that does have a built in moisture barrier, even if you don’t need one.

However, you must consider the fact that this type does not provide adequate noise reduction, so if you have small children or teenagers who make a lot of noise, this variety is not going to help you to have a good night’s sleep.

Concrete floors, especially above a cellar or a draughty place underneath will need a better quality underlay with a moisture barrier.  This type will provide slightly improved noise reduction, but if you really need to deafen sounds further you should choose the variety with a sound muffler built into it. With so much quality to choose from it may be worth your while to ask for assistance when choosing the right quality.

You may know that you need an entirely different product again if you have under floor heating. If you should choose to buy all your requirements online you may not be able to see the product, but you can ask for assistance just as you would if you went to visit your local retailer.

The beauty of on line buying is that all products are readily in stock and  it does not take weeks to arrive at your home.

Some online providers will send you samples of the product you are interested in before you make your choice.

How long can laminate or wood flooring last?

Laminate flooring is a great option for homeowners who want to fit their floors with something that’s easy to clean and maintain, but is also durable and modern. As with all fittings, laminate floors come with a lifespan, but what exactly that lifespan is depends upon a number of factors, including the quality of the laminate, how well it’s been installed and how well it’s maintained.

In years…

Most can last anywhere between 10 and 30 years before they have to be replaced, with 15-25 years being around average. It will also last longer in areas which see less traffic – so expect to replace the laminate in your living room long before the one in your spare bedroom.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep yours in top condition, which will ensure that you get as much life out of them as possible.

First, it’s important to generally try to keep them clean and dry. Laminate’s are not designed to be waterproof, so cleaning up spills and leaks straight away with a damp – not soaking – cloth is paramount.

Taking good care of your laminate floor

More intensive floor washes needn’t happen regularly, and in fact some strong floor cleaning products can actually do more harm than good. If mopping your floor with soapy water isn’t doing the trick, sometimes a little vinegar dabbed on a clean cloth is all it takes to remove stubborn stains and residue from laminate floors. Every now and again you may also want to revitalise laminates with a coat or two of polish, which can bring a shine back to older laminate flooring.

Once the top layer of a laminate floor wears away, there is nothing else to be done but to have it replaced. Thankfully, if you’ve been taking good care of your laminate flooring, this shouldn’t have to happen very often.

The importance of good underlay

Every time you walk on the floor, you’re causing small amounts of wear and tear. One way you can reduce this wear is by ensuring that you fit good quality underlay beneath your laminate. This softens the blow of each step, and comes with the added benefits of making your flooring feel warmer.