What Is Flooring Underlayment?

March 7, 2022

What is flooring underlayment? And what is flooring underlayment used for? Let’s talk about the types of flooring underlayment and why it’s often important to have one underneath the flooring in your home or commercial building. 

Flooring underlayment is a thin material located between the subfloor and the floor covering. Flooring underlayment can be comprised of many types of material. The type you’ll likely have in your home is dependent on what type of flooring you have. Carpet, linoleum, hardwood, laminate wood, and stone are some examples of what types of flooring one might see in any given home.

The underlayment may take on a variety of styles, but the purpose is the same. It’s used to create a flat smooth surface for your flooring to rest on and to be able to be installed properly. There are also secondary reasons why people will have flooring underlayment installed.

Perhaps one of the most familiar types of flooring underlayment most of us have experienced would be carpet padding. Some people prefer a thinner pad for stability, while others like a thicker carpet pad for comfort. Carpet padding is made of soft, spongy materials that come in various thicknesses and firmness. 

Softer flooring underlayment will also ease the sounds of people walking on the floors. You are less likely to hear footsteps when you’re walking on the carpet with softer padding underneath. Likewise, if you have hardwood flooring, footsteps will be less noisy if you have a thin underlayment between the hardwood floors and the subfloor underneath.

Underlayment provides a smoother and more predictable surface for the floor covering than the subfloor, which serves a mostly structural role. The subfloor is considered part of the construction. The flooring underlayment, however, is part of the flooring system that was installed or will be installed, should the owner make a change regarding the flooring. 

In the case of cement board, this example of underlayment provides a great surface for ceramic tiles to bond to. Ceramic tile does not adhere very well when applied directly to a subfloor. Subflooring is known to expand and contract, so you wouldn’t want to adhere ceramic tile directly to it. 

Flooring underlayment is often a good idea for comfort, noise reduction, and proper installation of new flooring, either during construction or in the middle of a flooring makeover. Be sure to have a professional and reputable flooring company discuss with you the options you have for your home or commercial location’s flooring underlayment options. 

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