Underlayment hard flooring

The Best Underlayment For Hardwood Flooring: In-depth Analysis

October 13, 2022
 |  By: 
Improvix Hardwood Flooring

Installing hardwood or engineered hardwood floors yourself might save you a lot of money, but it involves a lot of research and planning. These choices include, among other things, the kind of underlayment that can be put down.

When you first start delving into the world of do-it-yourself flooring, you might need to become more familiar with the concept of underlayment. Fear not! Because you now understand what it is, why you require it, and the various options open to you, selecting the best one for your new flooring will be a piece of cake. By reading this article, you will learn about the many possibilities for the underlayment of engineered hardwood floors.

What exactly is the underlayment?

Underlayment hard flooring

Between the subfloor and the finished floor is a layer of material known as the underlayment. This layer is often made of felt. Some types of flooring already have an underlayment attached during the manufacturing process, while other types of flooring need to have an underlayment installed separately during assembly.

Underlayment is typically made of rubber, cork, foam, or the most prevalent materials. There are some applications in which foam is required. Each choice offers a diverse selection of features, each of which can be tailored to meet the specific requirements of a given area or level.

Even though it won't be visible to the naked eye, the underlayment that you select for your floor can significantly impact the overall quality of your flooring and the length of time it will last.

The Importance of Underlayment

Even though underlayment for hardwood floors isn't necessary for every situation, doing so is rarely a bad idea. The installation of underlayment is recommended for some reasons, the most important of which is that it adds a layer of support and prolongs the life of the flooring.

Your floor will be more stable due to the underlayment, and any defects in the subfloor will be concealed. You need not be concerned about the surface being uneven or providing a trip hazard when you place your flooring on the subfloor, as you can do so with complete assurance. Your floor will have an increased level of soundproofing thanks to the underlayment.

A quality underlayment will lessen the thud of footfall and other impact noises and reduce the reverberation caused by sources such as speakers and televisions. In addition to this benefit, underlayment helps to protect your wood flooring from being damaged by moisture.

Wood floors need a moisture barrier in their underlayment to prevent warping and other expensive problems. Because of the synergistic effect of these advantages, your wood floors will remain unharmed, and you will have flooring in your house that is both more resilient and more durable.

Alternatives for Wood Flooring Underlayment

Underlayment can be purchased in four primary varieties, each offering a unique combination of positives and negatives. Before making a final choice, it is a good idea to investigate the features of each alternative and choose which one would go best with the flooring you already have installed.

Consider not only the material you are dealing with but also the acoustic ratings and the density when selecting the ideal underlayment for your home. In addition to the material you are working with, this is something you should consider, just like that of vinyl flooring and rubber cork underlay.


When it comes to choosing an underlayment for hardwood floors, felt is frequently considered to be among the top solutions available. This option offers little protection against moisture and sound insulation with a concrete subfloor.

The thickness of the layers of black felt could be increased to improve its insulating, soundproofing, and moisture-resistant properties. Not only do the thick layers of black felt that cover your area offer additional padding, but they also help to make it feel cozier.

Because it is made from recycled materials, felt underlayment is an environmentally friendly solution that you might employ in your home. Felt, on the other hand, is a straightforward replacement for the various underlayment choices. A felt underlayment with a higher density gives more protection than the other alternatives; nevertheless, it does not reduce sound in the same way as the laminate flooring.


It is simple to install, but foam underlayment is also very affordable. A gentle landing can be provided by foam or felt on your hardwood flooring if you use either of these materials for floating floors and vinyl plank flooring. It is not merely a fluffy addition; instead, in addition to that, it is versatile and insulating.

Because wood naturally expands and contracts over the year, having a foam underlayment can assist lessen the amount of friction between the floor and the subfloor. The foam also has the potential to diminish hollow noises caused by echoing sound waves and collisions against the floor, which results in a considerable reduction in volume.

This is because foam can absorb sound waves in the case of concrete subfloors and other floating materials. If you want to protect your hardwood floors from water damage, one of the best choices is to use foam underlayments that include moisture or vapor barrier. This is an essential aspect to consider in locations like bathrooms, kitchens, and cellars with a significant concentration of moisture or dampness. Wooden floors can be readily warped and rotted when water is present.


Even though cork underlayment is not used as frequently as felt or foam, it is still a good option due to the eco-friendly materials it is constructed of and the incredible sound absorption it provides. Even though it is not used as frequently as felt or foam, it still provides incredible sound absorption. The substance cork is made of is both organic and renewable.

In recent years, cork has become a preferred building material because of its outstanding sound-absorbing capabilities. This is especially true for rooms and flats on upper floors, such as cork underlayment. As a result of its firmness and flexibility, this material is excellent for compensating for imperfections in the subfloor, giving your floors more stability.

Also, cork is a natural insulator that can help keep temperatures even throughout the room. Cork has anti-microbial properties, which prevent the growth of bacteria and mold on your floors. This is another advantage that sets cork apart from other flooring options and makes it stand out from the competition. The downside to cork is that it is not waterproof. Similarly to foam, cork can function as underlayment; however, it is preferred to utilize cork that already has a water or vapor barrier connected to it.


rubber flooring at the gym

Rubber, much like plastic, can be molded to fit any space, making it yet another material with few criteria for its installation. This multipurpose option is simple to work with and offers superior soundproofing, resistance to dampness, and thermal insulation.

This material can help you prevent untreated wood and moisture problems, such as mold growth and mildew, because of the material's inherent water tightness. These difficulties might include the formation of mold and mildew.

Rubber underlayment does an excellent job of reducing noise and preventing flooring from having a hollow tone. It also provides excellent sound insulation. Rubber underlayment is a versatile and successful solution, even though it is more expensive than other solutions because it is simple to install and comes with several benefits. The rubber should still be considered a viable underlayment alternative when selecting the best material for your new flooring.

Where to Find the Best Underlayment?

Before settling on an option for the underlayment, there are a few more considerations you should give careful attention to after being more familiar with the various possibilities. The type of hardwood flooring you have and the room's requirements will play a part in selecting the quality of the underlayment necessary for your project.

Examples of engineered hardwood flooring include black walnut, white oak, and red oak; however because these types of oak are softer woods, their subfloors need to provide more significant support and stability for the engineered wood flooring. Because of this, underlayments made of cork or rubber can be utilized with softer varieties of wood.

Hardwoods, however, don't require additional support and are better off with the insulation and pliability that foam or rubber may supply. Examples of such hardwoods include hickory and maple. It is also essential to consider the area used to lay the underlayment.

Any room on the second level or higher could benefit from installing new flooring to enhance sound absorption. This would cut down on the reverberation caused by footfall. Before deciding on an underlayment, it is vital to give some serious consideration to the priorities of the space.

Wrapping Up

Since 2003, we've served Chicago, Evanston, Des Plaines, Oak Park, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Cicero, Wheaton, Glenview, Northbrook, Rosemont, and Buffalo Grove. Improves Hardwood Flooring installs and finishes hardwood flooring in Chicago, Illinois.

We install hardwood floors in homes and businesses. We're happy to service Chicago and its suburbs. We'll help if you need it. You deserve the best!

Improvix Hardwood Flooring cares for customers thoroughly. We'll show you step-by-step how to install your new floor and answer any questions you have. We can professionally install a new or refurbished hardwood floor.