Understanding the Main Components of Flooring

April 7, 2022

Most of us don’t think too much about what comprises our flooring. When we look at our flooring, we typically think of a single layer that you see, usually carpeting, hardwood, laminate flooring, or tile. But like the ground we stand on, there are actually several layers underneath the top, ensuring the stability and functionality of our floor.

Let’s talk about the main components of a typical floor, from the bottom to the top. And how they all come together to make a flooring system.


The bottom level of the numerous layers that comprise your floors are the joists. These are the bones of your flooring. They sit directly on your home’s foundation and support the subfloor layer. The joists must be installed correctly when the home is built because if they aren’t, this can result in a great deal of noise. The floors will squeak loudly when they are walked on as they shift due to lack of support.


The subfloor level sits on top of the joists and provides stability and support. This solid base that your floor stands on will support the floor padding and covering. The subfloor is most often constructed with concrete, though it can also be made of wood. It’s important that the subfloor has room to breathe because expanding and contracting over the years will allow your floor to function properly.


The underlayment layer is installed on top of the subfloor. The underlayment is used for noise control, as it softens and reduces any noises that result from people walking across the floor. While it is installed for noise reduction, it also gives the floor covering a smooth surface to walk and sit on. Most often, the underlayment is made of foam or cork. The underlayment layer is necessary for floating floors such as laminate flooring or engineered wood. These floors are not attached to the subfloor directly or with adhesive, so they float on top of it.

In the case of carpeted areas, padding is used underneath as the underlayment. If you choose to install tile flooring, you’ll want to use a moisture-resistant underlayment to prevent water from finding its way under your tile and into the cracks of the grout.

Floor Covering

The top layer and final part of your flooring is the floor covering. Floor coverings come in a variety of materials and styles. This can be carpet, hardwood flooring, tile, stone, vinyl, or laminate flooring. This is what most people think of when they think of flooring.

It’s important to remember all the flooring components in a flooring system. Floor system components come in various materials and looks for everyone’s flooring needs. Consider these components next time you are considering a flooring replacement in your home, or if you are building a new home.

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