Nailed-down hardwood floors or engineered wood flooring both require an underlayment before you can install the flooring. The underlayment primarily acts as a moisture barrier, but also cushions the wood floor and even muffles sound. Hardwood floors can only go over a wood subfloor because the thick planks must be nailed in place, but engineered wood floors can be installed over multiple types of subfloor surfaces as long as the surface is flat and free of defects.
Hardwood floors require either 15-pound felt paper or resin paper as an underlayment. Either product is stapled over the subfloor before you install the hardwood atop it. Resin -- also known as rosin -- paper is a cleaner product to work with, but 15-pound felt works just as well to retard moisture and provide some cushioning for the hardwood floor. Overlap the edges of both underlayments about 6 inches on seams.
Engineered Wood Floors
Engineered wood floors have multiple options for installation, such as nailing, stapling, floating or gluing, based on the selected product. When you nail or staple the engineered floor in place, 15-pound felt, polyethylene film or rosin paper matches the installation. For floating floors, a foam underlayment with a vapor retarder is suitable for cement slabs, but just use the foam for wood subfloors. If you plan to glue your hardwood floor down, then you also need an underlayment that glues down, such as acoustic cork or a proprietary self-adhesive underlayment. Some engineered hardwood flooring comes with an underlayment already attached to the planks.
- Photo Credit irina88w/iStock/Getty Images
Which Way to Lay Down Felt Paper for Hardwood Flooring?
Hardwood flooring manufacturers recommend that felt paper be laid directly beneath the flooring application. Benefits of using felt paper are varied, depending...
How to Choose Hardwood Underlay
Hardwood flooring underlay is a building material installed under a wood or laminate floor. Underlayment products can be made from wood, cork,...
Do You Need Underlayment Padding Under Hardwood Flooring?
Hardwood provides a durable flooring material that can withstand years of use. Hardwood flooring works best in areas of your home that...
The Best Underlayments for Engineered Hardwood
Engineered hardwood is similar to regular hardwood floors. Engineered hardwood uses a lesser quality of wood overlaid with a higher quality of...
Subfloor Vs. Underlayment
Subfloor and underlayment are two building materials used for different types of installations. Installers, designers and builders can sometimes confuse these two...
Whether you're laying tile, laminate, carpet or another type of flooring, you'll need to put a layer of underlayment underneath your flooring...