Do I need Underlayment for Laminate Flooring on Plywood?

When installing a laminate flooring, underlayment is what will make your floor more stable and well protected against moisture. However, the type of underlay to use usually depends on the nature of the subfloor and moisture conditions of your area. So, do I need underlayment for laminate flooring on plywood?

Yes, underlayment on a plywood subfloor will provide a firm support for the floating floor, sound insulation and make your floor to feel warmer. For this case, you will not want to use a vapor-barrier-type underlayment but instead use a breathable form-type underlay.

Do INeed Underlayment for Laminate Flooring on Plywood?

Laminate flooring with attached underlayment does not need a separate installation of the padding material on the subfloor. The laminate planks or tiles are installed directly on the concrete or plywood subfloor. Here is why you need underlayment for laminate flooring:

For protection against moisture

A vapor-barrier underlayment is mandatory if you are installing your laminate over cement or in moisture-laden areas like basements. Laminate contains wood material in its core and without any protection, moisture from the subfloor can easily be absorbed and damage your flooring.

This will result into problems like growth of mold under your laminate flooring, buckling or twisting of the flooring planks. A moisture-damaged laminate can hardly be repaired, replacement of the affected flooring is all you will have to do. This means getting deeper into your pockets for something you would have avoided.

It is not recommended to use a moisture-barrier underlayment when installing laminate flooring on a plywood. The impervious material will not allow free flow of air around the wood material which can easily attract growth of mold under the flooring. A breathable foam-type underlayment will be a good option to use.

Helps in noise reduction

Floating floors like laminate tend to leave a thin space between them and the subfloor. This will make your flooring noisy when you are walking on it especially when wearing heels or cleats. Underlayment will be helpful in providing quietness in your bedroom or your working area.

Offers heat insulation

During cold seasons like winter, most floors get too cold and make the entire room very uncomfortable. To prevent this from happening, you need underlayment for yourlaminate flooring. If this is the main reason as to why you are using underlayment, you need to consider the R-Value of the material.

The higher the R-Value, the higher insulation the underlayment provides and vice versa. This means you need underlayment with higher R-Value for your floor to feel warmer underfoot during winter season.

Creates floor stability

A floating flooring must be evenly distributed across the subfloor. This will not be possible with any imperfections like dents and seams common in most subfloors. Underlayment will help in evening out such imperfections for a sturdy installation of a laminate flooring.

Types of Underlayment for Laminate flooring

A wrong type of underlayment can make laminate flooring bouncy and unstable. A laminate flooring needs a very thin but resilient underlay that will provide protection and comfort without any noticeable movements. The following are popular types of laminate underlayment to use.

Standard foam

This underlayment consists of a thin layer of standard form popular in providing cushion and insulation for laminate flooring on plywood or Oriented Strand Board (OSB) subfloors. Standard form underlayment does not have any waterproof abilities and should not be used in moisture laden areas.

Combination foam

This type of underlayment combines foam with a vapor barrier that provides protection against moisture damage on a laminate flooring. Combination foam underlayment can be used in diverse environments including basements, bathrooms and concrete subfloors. Its thus expensive than standard foam underlayment.

Cork underlayment

This is a premium type of underlayment that has natural antibacterial properties which discourage growth of mold or other microbes under the flooring. While it does not provide any protection against moisture, cork underlayment is a good insulator that dampens sound very well. Cork is expensive than foam or combination underlayment.

Final Thought

It may appear unnecessary to use underlayment for laminate flooring on plywood but the benefits greatly surpasses the doubts. Underlayment will provide sound insulation, enhance floor stability and make your laminate floor to feel warmer under foot. However, be careful with the type of underlay you are using on the plywood subfloor to avoid growth of mold under the flooring.

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