Laminate flooring requires an underlayment. You get what you pay for when it comes to flooring underlayment. Cheap is not always better. There are several types and price ranges available, and each manufacturer of flooring has a recommendation for the type of underlayment that should be used. One of your main priorities in choosinig an underlayment, is the room that the flooring will be installed in.
The purpose of underlayment is to reduce sound, provide a moisture barrier, aid with subfloor imperfections and slightly cushion the feel of your floor as you walk on it. All of these things must be considered when you purchase your underlayment. Consult with your flooring specialist and let them know where the flooring will be installed, what type your subfloor is, and whether it is a first- or second-level floor.
Cheaper foam underlayment can be used on most plywood subfloors. Most plywood floors will not draw moisture, unless there is a workspace underneath the house. Work or crawl spaces allow more air and moisture to come up through the subfloor. This type of underlayment can also be used on concrete subfloors as long as the concrete floor is well above ground level, or the concrete subfloor is on a second story. Basic foam underlayment does not protect against moisture and provides little soundproofing.
Foam underlayments with a moisture barrier will provide protection from condensation that can rise up from your subfloor and cause damage to your floor. This type of underlayment provides the moisture barrier, but still does not provide more soundproofing than basic foam underlayment without the moisture barrier. You can purchase a higher quality foam-muffler underlayment that will not only provide a moisture barrier, but will also provide a greater quality of soundproofing. The foam muffler underlayment also provides an insulating factor for your floors.
Highest Grade Underlayment
The highest grade or quality of underlayments is cork. Cork is a porous, breathable material that can be used for most types of flooring installations. It will resist moisture in most cases, and provides the best soundproofing of all the underlayments available. There are cases where you will still need extra moisture barriers. Any flooring that is highly susceptible to moisture should have an additional layer of 6-millimeter plastic sheeting
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