Do You Need Underlayment Padding Under Hardwood Flooring?

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Proper installation can help your hardwood floor last for decades.
Proper installation can help your hardwood floor last for decades. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Hardwood provides a durable flooring material that can withstand years of use. Hardwood flooring works best in areas of your home that remain dry, such as your living room, dining room and bedrooms. Laminate flooring resembles the appearance of solid hardwood flooring, but it contains different materials and requires a different type of installation. Unlike laminate flooring, hardwood does not require padding.

Padding

Padding is a common type of underlayment for carpets and laminate flooring. Some types of laminate flooring come with an attached pad, while others require you to roll out sheets of foam padding before you lay the segments of flooring over the top. True hardwood flooring does not require padding, although it does need a type of fabric between the underlayment and surface boards.

Considerations

Underlayment padding helps cushion sections of laminate flooring. The main purpose of this material is to protect the laminate, hold it in place and provide product longevity. Unlike padding under a carpet, this type of underlayment padding is too thin for you to feel when you walk across a laminate floor. Hardwood floors do not require underlayment padding, but they may squeak and creak if you place the surface boards directly against the underlayment. Wood-against-wood friction is one of the most common reasons behind floor creaks.

Proper Material

Flooring installers usually use building paper or asphalt felt paper between the underlayment and the hardwood flooring. These sturdy, durable types of paper sheeting keep the wood surfaces from rubbing together when you walk, helping to eliminate the possibility of annoying floor creaks and squeaks.

Installation

The specific installation technique required for your hardwood flooring project depends on the brand and type of hardwood and paper you choose to use. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing flooring products. The general method for laying a hardwood floor is to clean the surface of the underlayment, roll out the paper, staple it in place and install the individual wooden flooring planks. Placing the paper over a clean, bare subfloor that is free of grit and debris will help reduce the risk of paper tears and rips.

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