Whether you're laying tile, laminate, carpet or another type of flooring, you'll need to put a layer of underlayment underneath your flooring to make the surface even and flat. You can use a variety of different materials as underlayment. Typically, the harder the type of flooring you're using, the harder the form of underlayment you'll need.
If you're laying laminate or another type of flooring in a place isn't prone to moisture, use large, flat sections of wood, such as plywood, for your underlayment. The types of wood you can use for an underlayment typically come in 4-by-6 or or 4-by-8 sheets. Cut sheets to fit your floor, leaving no gaps, to keep the floor from sagging in spots.
For carpet and some forms of engineered or floating hardwood floors, a foam underlayment is typically used. Foam underlayment is usually somewhere between a half inch and an inch thick. You can pick up foam underlayment in a roll from your local home improvement store.
If you're laying tile or putting down a floor where moisture could end up being a problem, use a rubber underlayment. Unlike other forms of underlayment, a rubber underlayment will not soak up and hold any water that might seep through your flooring to the underlayment beneath. Rubber underlayment is also often rigid, creating a good, solid surface for harder flooring choices. To create an environmentally friendly home, use a rubber underlayment made from recycled rubber.
Fiber boards or fiber rolls are sometimes used as an underlayment option. Fiber boards are typically rigid, look kind of like drywall, and come in 4-by-6 or 4-by-8 sheets. Fiber rolls look similar to the foam underlayment that goes under carpet. Like foam and wood, fiber underlayment will soak up any water that seeps through your flooring, and is usually not the best option for floors in wet places, like bathrooms.
- Photo Credit plywood texture image by jimcox40 from Fotolia.com
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