Laminate is a popular flooring option for many people. It’s attractive, easy to clean and easy to maintain.
It can be a durable flooring solution too if it’s installed properly.
If you want to get the best performance and long-lasting quality from your laminate floor, you need to install it with an underlay.
And more importantly, it needs to be the right type of laminate flooring underlay.
If you don’t use an underlay, your beautiful laminate flooring will be prone to damage as well as wear and tear.
Laminate underlay is a thin, padded layer of material that sits below your laminate flooring.
It protects your laminate against damage and extends its lifespan as well as providing other benefits including noise reduction, comfort and insulation.
Laminate is a floating floor, meaning it lays loosely over your subfloor. The laminate panels need to be evenly distributed and fixed securely in place, so they don’t move or warp.
A lot of subfloors are slightly uneven or bumpy, which can affect the quality of the laminate installation.
Installing an underlay evens out any imperfections in the subfloor, helping ensure the laminate is level and stable.
This extends the lifespan of the flooring because a level and stable subfloor supports the laminate’s locking mechanism.
Also, laminate flooring is often quite thin, which makes it vulnerable to damage from wear and tear.
Underlay cushions your flooring from shocks and impacts caused by general use like footsteps and moving furniture.
This protects your laminate against wear and tear and can significantly extend its lifespan.
For cold subfloors like concrete, you need to consider a damp proof membrane.
Cold ground floor subfloors are often prone to damp, which can damage your laminate.
An underlay with a vapour barrier helps prevent this.
More on this further down the page.
Laminate can make the floor feel colder in the winter, especially when it’s installed on a cold subfloor.
A laminate underlay provides some insulation, meaning the floor’s not quite as cold on your feet.
For a luxury feel underfoot, you should choose an underlay that provides comfort and sound reduction. More on this below.
Some laminates come with pre-attached underlayment. In this situation, you don’t need any extra underlay. It won’t provide any extra benefit and may actually damage the underlay.
Too much padding can make the floor too bouncy, which strains the laminate’s locking system.
If you are fitting a laminate floor with a pre-attached underlay to concrete though, it’s a good idea to install a vapour barrier as well. This will help prevent moisture damage.
What is the best underlay for laminate? The best underlay depends on the type of subfloor you are installing it to, and what you want to achieve from your flooring.
Your first consideration is the type of subfloor you are installing to.
Cold hard ground floor subfloors such as concrete are more prone to moisture damage, so you need to choose an underlay with a vapour barrier like Duralay Timbermate Excel. Its built-in vapour barrier repels moisture and protects your flooring.
Wooden subfloors are often on higher floors and less prone to moisture damage, so you don’t usually need to worry about a vapour barrier.
Your next consideration is what you want to achieve from your underlay.
Without underlay, footsteps and motion can cause a lot of noise.
As well as having a vapour barrier, our Duralay Timbermate Excel underlay reduces in-room noise by up to 30%.
If you have underfloor heating, you need to choose a thermal underlay for laminate flooring. These have a low tog rating’s, like our Heatflow wood & laminate range.
A low tog rating allows more heat to pass through the flooring and into the room.
An underlay can also act as an insulator if you don’t have underfloor heating.
So, choosing a laminate underlay with a high tog rating will help your room retain more heat.
This could help you save money on energy!
We would recommend an underlay of 3 – 5mm for laminate flooring.
It should be at least 3mm thick to provide comfort and ground levelling properties. But, it should be no more than 5mm thick. If it’s any thicker, you could experience problems with the laminate’s locking system.
Although re-using your underlay may be appealing, using a carpet underlay with laminate flooring will cause problems in the long run.
Carpet underlay is usually much thicker than laminate underlay. It’s usually around 10mm thick, whereas laminate underlay is usually around 3mm thick.
If you install laminate on top of a carpet underlay, the floor will be too bouncy and spongy, which can damage the locking system and provide an uncomfortable feel.
Once you’ve chosen the best underlay for your laminate flooring, you can either use a professional installer or install it yourself.
If you don’t feel confident, you should use a professional installer to get the best results.
However, if you want to do it yourself, here’s how you can do it.
For the best results, you should lay the underlay before you install any skirting boards. Or, if you already have skirting boards, you should remove them.
This will allow you to fit the skirting boards over the underlay and laminate boards, which will result in a more seamless and professional finish.
First, clean your subfloor and ensure it is completely dry. If you notice any that your subfloor is damaged in any way, you should fix it before you continue.
Then, lay your underlay along the length of your room, ensuring you leave a gap of at least 10mm around any pipes.
On concrete subfloors, lay the underlay with the vapour barrier side down.
On wooden subfloors, lay the underlay rubber side down.
Also, make sure to leave a small gap around any pipes.
Then, use a knife to cut off any surplus underlay.
After this, secure the seams of the underlay with vapour tape if you have a concrete subfloor, or a good underlay tape if you are installing to a wooden subfloor.
Once you’re happy than the laminate underlay is securely in place, you can install your laminate flooring on top.
Interfloor’s underlays are renowned for their great value and quality. Why not browse our ranges.
Our Heatflow Wood & Laminate range is perfect for use with underfloor heating. The low tog rating allows heat to easily pass through the underlay and into the flooring, which can help reduce your energy bills. It also provides underfoot comfort and protects your flooring from wear and tear.
Our Timbermate Excel and Silentfloor ranges are great sound dampeners. The underlays can reduce in-room noise by up to 30%! They contain vapour barriers too, which protects your flooring against moisture.
If you want to know more, get in touch with us, and we’ll be more than happy to help. Get in touch via our contact page.