There's a lot more to think about when installing laminate flooring than just the final colour of the floor. The underlayment is a layer that can be made from different materials, whose main purpose is to keep moisture from reaching your laminate and reduce the noise that comes from walking on a hard floor.
Underlayment is especially important when working with concrete subfloors, which can release moisture more than other flooring materials, especially if it isn't cured properly. This article highlights what you need to think about when planning for the underlayment for your laminate floors.
1. Get a moisture measurement
High moisture amounts below laminate floors can interfere with proper installation. Moisture makes the floor expand, which in turn causes buckling or other movement. If laminate floors are installed when it's humid and the floor is expanded, then when the floor dries out and shrinks, you'll have the laminate buckling.
2. Thoroughly clean the subfloor
The subfloor must be swept and wiped clean where possible, and then allowed to dry completely. Installing a laminate floor doesn't require the surface to be completely level (small differences are considered negligible in the subfloor), but the more level it is, the better it will lay.
For concrete subfloors, check for cracking and seal them off. Where there was carpeting, ensure any residue is scraped off, and then check for levelling before placing underlayment. If you have wooden subfloors, you may have to ensure boards are nailed in, and then lay plywood even if you're using underlayment of another type.
3. Watch out for humidity
If the region you live in experiences high humidity, ensure that your installers look for and seal any external cracks that could allow moisture to seep into the subfloor and through the underlayment. You can use waterproof concrete to place on the subfloor, especially with gaps that can release moisture.
4. Check whether underlayment is provided
Some laminate flooring comes with underlayment on each piece of the board. Therefore, you may not need to install additional underlayment. However, you can still do so, as it is likely to soften the surface below and decrease noise, especially if you use foam underlayment.
5. Choose the right type
Cork, foam and plywood are the most commonly used types of underlayment available. Commercial products are usually made from a mixture of all three. Including a damp-proof membrane, especially if you have a concrete subfloor, can help to create a better buffer against moisture.