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.
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How to choose your laminate or wood floor underlay
The most important consideration when choosing the right product here is whether you are installing underfloor heating. Thats’ because you need very different products for underfloor heating than you do for a basic concrete or wooden sub floor.
The first point is that an underlay on top of underfloor heating needs to have high thermal conductivity so you can enjoy the benefits of your investment.
Next you’ll want to decide whether you need to improve the insulation of the room you’re laying the new floor in. If that’s a yes, then go for a product which has a higher thermal rating, which is measured in tog.
Best underlay for engineered or solid wood flooring
For engineered or solid wood flooring, you’ll need a product that is 5mm or less. Any thicker than 5mm, then your new floor is likely to become unstable – that’s the big difference between carpet and laminate underlays.
Best underlay 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.
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.
Can I fit it myself?
As the floating floor method is usually used with both laminate and 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’s more details about each product to help you compare the different competing options.
Duralay heat flow
- 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.
- Noise reduction – the rating of 21db allows this product to do a fantastic job of reducing impact noise reduction from high foot traffic.
- Outstanding durability for heavy contract use – this is a premium quality product that can be used for domestic or contract use.
Super Gold 5mm for wood or laminate
At 5mm thickness, our 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.
The Super Gold underlay is perfect for solid wood flooring, here are its top benefits:
- 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.
- Warmth and thickness – 5mm is the thickest you can go for laminate which means this product will provide the ultimate cushioning and warmth.
- Noise reduction – the rating of 22db allows this product to greatly reduce the sound of impact noise in your home.
- Value for money – for the premium quality of this product it is fantastic value for money.
3mm Underlay + DPM for wood or laminate
DPM stands for Damp Proof Membrande. DPMs are designed to absorb moisture and prevent dampness. Nearly all laminate underlayments will contain a dpm by default. Even if you don’t think your room or home suffers from moisture problems, we still recommend installing a product which has a DPM.
On the other hand, if you know your room suffers from extensive moisture problems, you may even wish to apply an epoxy DPM before fitting.
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.
- Built-in water repellent feature – the built-in damp proof membrane (DPM) repels water and protects flooring against excess water.
- Thermal conductivity – the low tog rating gives this product excellent thermal conductivity for underfloor heating.
- Sound reduction – the rating of 19db allows this underlay to reduce impact noise in your home.
Do you need underlay for vinyl flooring?
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 4mm thick.
If you install underlay with vinyl that is less than 4mm thick, it is at a higher risk of being punctured.
Always check the manufacturers instructions of your vinyl to make sure it is suitable for underlayment. If fitted correctly, it will provide some cushioning and protect your 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.
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.
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.