Underlayment is something very crucial when it comes to floor installation. Depending on what type of floor you have the need might vary.
If a user is capable of bearing the extra cost then it’s definitely a safer route to get underlayment done.
However, not everybody would love to take the additional hassle of cost. Especially those who believe, hardwood floors are robust to survive without an underlayment. Which is partially true.
Let’s do some deep talk on is underlayment necessary for hardwood floors. This will make it easier to understand the other half of this story as well.
Do I Need an Underlayment for Hardwood Floors?
The short and simple answer to this is “it depends”. If you have a subfloor made from plywood, it’s already smooth and leveled in most cases. And that make you consider not going for underlayment hassle beneath hardwood flooring. Since plywood will be almost enough to take care of any moisture-related problems. That too along with providing a smooth surface.
But things are a bit different in case of some serious conditions. Let’s talk about those in particular and see if that matches with your zone.
If Your Hardwood Floor Lack Moisture Barrier
Installing a hardwood floor is some serious costly business. And you don’t want any water damage that can take the durable performance of a floor. Just because you decided to decline an underlayment. Sometimes, water damage chances are high with the area you live in. And so, it becomes almost essential to get a compatible underlayment. To bring a quality moisture barrier.
Also, you can never be too sure when the subfloor decides to work poorly. As a result, your flooring would get prone to moisture damages even faster. So, it’s best to have the extra layer of protection. Before your subfloor gets a sudden tiny cracking making floor vulnerable to moisture.
If the Manufacturer Recommends a Vapor Barrier
Some manufacturers do recommend to use some barrier vapor for their hardwood flooring. If that’s the case, of course you will need the barrier. You’ll need to take appropriate steps for moisture resistance. This is important to get the troubles of plank gaps out of your life.
Due to water soaked into beneath floors, you will face very expensive damage. And that could have been avoided by using an underlayment.
Sometimes you choose to use engineered hardwood as a floating floor. In that case, the importance of underlayment becomes even more visible. Since the floating floor does not attach to subfloor. Expansion and contraction have a high chance when moisture exposure come to happen.
If the Subfloor Has Imperfections
An even and well-maintained subfloor is the key. It’s a crucial requirement you need before installing hardwood flooring. Gluing or nailing a hardwood flooring over the uneven subfloor is going to not work. There are other problems as well. Such as tripping and less perfect outlook.
You may not have to really worry about minor flaws. But any major problem needs your attention. And one common way to deal with such a problematic subfloor is buying a thick underlayment. It’s the most convenient and inexpensive solution in such a situation.
If Noise Reduction is Your Concern
If above the Hardwood flooring, a busy household is going to reside, it’s more than obvious that there will be a lot of noise production. With kids and pets running around almost all the time during day, it’ll be a complete chaos.
However, there are underlayment choices that can absorb this noise. It can make the sound waves bouncing from one to another pretty less. This is something extremely useful when you have a home with upper and lower stories
You may read: Do I Need Underlayment for Vinyl Plank Flooring?
What is the Recommended Underlayment for Hardwood Flooring?
Depending on your conditions the recommendation would vary of course. Here are some crucial pointers I’ve managed to bring together. Check and see which one fits what you’re looking for…
- If you are not using any floating floor with the hardwood, a heavy underlay will work best. Felt is the ideal material in such a situation. It comes without any disturbing odor. Also, it’s very safe to install and provides protection. However, there’s less cushion and no sound dampening benefits.
- If you need something suitable for noise reduction, then cork underlay is going to work the best. Also, for minor subfloor imperfections, a cork material underlay will provide enough flexibility. There are insulation and anti-fungal properties as well.
- Anybody who needs an underlay material that is super simple to install can look into rubber. This is excellent in preventing moisture. Also it provides sound reduction support. It’s not super cheap however. But also, it’s very practically priced.
So, is underlayment necessary for hardwood floors necessary in your situation? I’m sure you have a clear answer now. Laying an underlayment is definitely not a very enjoyable process. It’s hard, daunting, and requires time.
But by the end of a proper underlayment and flooring installation, you are going to be proud of results. It’ll be a relief that once you have a safe and stable surface to walk around inside your lovely home.