Underlayment is the process of adding a slender layer of material such as rubber, felt, or foam under the floor.
This extra layer helps to absorb sound, cushion the weight exerted on it, decrease the erosion of the floor and insulation.
It is usual for people to wonder if their laminated flooring over plywood needs any sort of underlayment.
After reading this article, you will have the answer to the question: Do I Need Underlayment For Laminate Flooring on Plywood?
Benefits of Having Underlayment on Plywood
Here are some of the benefits you can get by having underlayment on plywood:
- Sound Absorption
Sound absorption is extremely important for you if you want to keep the noises down to a minimum.
The sound absorption capability helps reduce the noise through the transmission of air waves, or at times through impacts.
It is very important to keep the room or the house you are living in at the proper temperature.
Temperature fluctuations can be sometimes detrimental to the health and wellbeing of you and your family.
Due to the presence of underlayment, the temperature within the room or the house does not fluctuate.
If there is no plywood, the air escapes from the room. This causes the temperature to change.
- Impact Absorption
Over time, floors become weaker if due to the incessant walking on them. This oftentimes causes dents and weakens the surface of the floor.
As a result of this weaker surface, the floor surface might shatter. This will make the walking experience troublesome, and might even cause injuries.
Due to the presence of underlayment, the experience of walking becomes much more pleasurable, and the probability of sustaining damaging injuries gets reduced greatly.
- Moisture Resistance
The moisture-resistant feature will not be of any help to laminate flooring on plywood as the majority of the plywood subfloors are typically installed on the main or second story of the house.
But, if the base level of the house is above any unoccupied, narrow space, you are advised to fasten the empty space of moisture.
If this is not done, the underlayment that has the vapor barrier will fend off the moisture from the flooring, but not from the plywood subfloor. This will cause decay.
- Enhanced Appearance
Not all the floors out there are perfectly flat. They might have subtle defects here and there.
Having an underlayment can cover up these flaws, and enhance the appearance of your room.
- Compression Resistance
Having compression resistance gives a solid footing to the laminate flooring in your house. If there is no underlayment, it will feel as if you are walking on two layers of wood.
The floor will feel very hard, and there will be a sound that is of two hard surfaces hitting off against one another.
You should also remember that choosing the right underlayment is very important, as cheap underlayment wanes out over a period. This causes the product to become paper-thin.
What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate Flooring is a multi-layered floor, that is a composite of different layers that have been merged together.
This merging is done through a single, high-pressure press, at temperatures above 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
This procedure of applying pressure is known as Direct-pressure Laminate or DPL. This is the most common method that is followed to merge the different layers.
Due to the use of DPL, the laminate flooring becomes rigid and strong.
Components of Laminate Flooring
Laminate Floors typically have four different layers. These layers are described below:
- Melamine Wear Layer
This is the top most layer of flooring. The design is made such that the flooring is able to resist various types of abrasion.
This layer is constructed via a combination of aluminum oxide and melamine. The surface of this layer is tough, long-lasting, and water-resistant.
- Decorative Paper Print Layer
This is the second layer on the flooring. The design of this layer gives the floor its appearance.
You can choose from a plethora of appearances. The appearances can range from ceramic, stone to anything that will cater to your personal choices.
- Core Layer
The next layer is the core layer. This layer is thicker, in comparison to the rest of the layers.
The layer is either made from high-density fiberboard (HDF), or medium-density fiberboard (MDF). The HDF is an upgrade on the MDF and is much more rigid.
The main function of the core layer is that it supports the weight that is exerted on the floor and it also helps to disperse the weight that the floor experiences.
- Backing Stabilizing Layer
This is the fourth most layer of laminated flooring. This layer provides firmness, solidity, and hardiness to the floor.
This layer also provides defense against moisture, in the entire structure. Some laminate flooring designs have cushions attached to the back of the structure.
Why Was Laminated Flooring Created?
Laminated flooring was created in order to provide consumers like yourself with a cost-effective alternative to hardwood.
Visually, both hardwood and laminated look the same, But due to the low production cost of laminated wood, it is more cost-effective than hardwood.
In other words, you get the same visuals as hardwood, but at a lower price.
The layer of plywood that is bolted to the structural subfloor is known as plywood underlayment.
This underlayment provides an even, rigid and polished surface for ceramic tile, carpet, vinyl tile, and also wooden floors.
How You Can Install Laminate Flooring In Your Home?
Follow the steps mentioned below to install laminate flooring in your home:
- Determine The Amount Of Flooring Needed
The first thing you need to do is ascertain the amount of flooring you require in your home.
Calculate the total area of your space by determining the length and breadth of the house.
It is recommended to add ten percent extra to the area in order to account for potential wastage.
Determine the color, texture, and size of the flooring you have to purchase based on the traits of the space.
- Prepare The Room
You can prepare the room for renovation by removing the previously installed shoe trims, wall base, and moldings.
You can even update the moldings. In case new height is added to the floor, remove old casings and jambs where required.
- Install The Underlayment
The next step is to install the underlayment. First, ensure that space is properly cleaned.
Underlayment is a layer of thin foam. It is compulsory for you to place proper underlayment before starting to laminate your floor.
This layer of underlayment will also help you in removing the minor imperfections that are present on the floor.
- Taping The Underlayment
The next thing you have to do is tape the underlayment. You might use duct tape or even polyethylene tape.
This process is extremely important if you are installing underlayment over concrete floors.
- Checking The Materials
Since your floor has been cleaned and prepped, the wood trim removed, and the underlayment installed, you are ready to start floor installation.
Before starting to install, check the purchased materials for any imperfections.
These imperfections are oftentimes very minor in their appearance but might have negative effects in the long run if not taken care of. The flaws you are looking for are usually chips and splinters.
- Planning and Cutting
After you have checked the materials, there are few things you have to do before you start installing. The first row should be placed on the most apparent wall.
It must also be parallel to the longest wall in the room.
Leave space between flooring edges and walls. This will allow the floor to contract and expand due to changes in humidity.
- Installing The First Rows
Work from the right-hand side to the left. Start placing the planks with the tongue side facing the wall.
Now that the first board is flat, lay the second board on it in such a way that the tongue and groove fit together.
- Cutting Around Door Jambs
It is a relatively easy task to install laminate flooring. However, you might come up against some tricky cuts such as door jambs.
Construct a template using a piece of very rigid cardboard if such cases do arise.
- Install the Last Row
Since most of the floor has been covered, you can now place the last row. In case the last row is narrower than the wideness of the plank, cut it lengthwise to fit the plank.
Choosing the apt and proper flooring for your home is very important. It not only enhances the experience of your movement but also makes your home look better.
So, if you ask, “Do I need underlayment for Laminate Flooring on Plywood?” The answer is yes.
Having an underlayment will provide you with proper insulation, sound integration, protection against moisture and compression.
So, you are advised to choose an underlayment that not only fits your budget but also enhances the beauty and experience of living in your house.