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Benefits of Using Underlayment

An underlayment is just as critical as all the other flooring system components when installing a new floor. Although many homeowners focus primarily on the surface and aesthetics, using the ideal underlayment provides extensive benefits, from sound reduction and compression resistance to moisture protection and insulation. If you plan on remodeling your home and replacing your existing flooring, understanding how underlayment works and choosing the best solution for your needs can add significant value to your investment.

Flooring System Components

Each layer in your flooring system plays an essential role in its structure and functionality. One incorrectly installed layer can throw off your floor’s entire appearance, often leading to significant repair costs to remedy the issue. While most people emphasize the covering as the primary component, the layers underneath ensure optimal stability.

The four primary components of a flooring system include: 

  1. Joists: Joists make up the bottommost layer of your flooring system. They consist of framing members resting on a building’s beams and foundation walls to support the entire floor. Correctly installed joists can also help control factors like excessive noise and shifting when walking on the surface.
  2. Subfloor: The subfloor is the layer over the joists that provides a base for the underlayment and covering. It typically consists of plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), or concrete and provides rigidity and strength to your floor system when attached to the joists. Subfloors can vary in thickness, typically ranging from ½ to 1 ½ inches for plywood and OSB, and 4 to 8 inches for concrete.
  3. Underlayment: The underlay installs between the subfloor and surface floorings that use floating, nail-down or glue-down installations. Underlayments can help improve minor imperfections in the subfloor while providing support for the surface flooring’s locking system. 
  4. Floor covering: The covering is the visible surface on top of the entire flooring system. Coverings are what most people envision when they think of a floor. These come in various materials and styles, from hardwood planks and tiles to carpets and vinyl.

Why Flooring Underlayment Is Important

High-performance underlayments offer many more benefits than economical options and deliver significant cost savings over your floor’s life. While underlayments provide a comprehensive range of benefits to your home, one of their critical roles is protecting the floor covering from damage caused by moisture, mold and mildew. Many floor-covering manufacturers require homeowners to install a high-performance underlayment with a moisture barrier to honor the covering’s warranty.

A vital factor in understanding underlayments is that while they offer many advantages and benefits, they are not a solution for extensive subflooring issues like severe surface imperfections, moisture levels above code standards and uneven floors. If you notice a problem with your subfloor, it’s always best to address it before installing the underlayment or surface flooring.

Benefits of Flooring Underlayment

Underlayments provide different performance characteristics for your installation depending on the material you choose. Some materials like polyethylene foam, recycled rubber and extruded polystyrene insulation (XPS) require additional layers for water vapor protection. More advanced solutions like cross-linked polypropylene foam (XLPP) provide a more comprehensive benefit range because of their superior chemical and physical structure.

Several primary benefits of using underlayment include:

  • Superior protection: An underlayment with high compression properties helps reduce damage to the floorboards by adding additional padding between the floor and subfloor. Constant foot traffic can often cause dents in some of the most frequented areas. A high-performance underlayment can reinforce the click-together mechanism while maintaining a supportive configuration under heavy traffic on the overlying floor.
  • Excellent thermal properties: A high-performing underlayment improves your flooring system’s insulation value — or R-value. The R-value often refers to the underlayment’s ability to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the less heat will be transferred through it.
  • Noise reduction: A high-quality underlayment improves the acoustic performance of your flooring system. Acoustic ratings such as IIC, STC, and Delta IIC indicate how well the flooring assembly, including underlayment, will dampen sound – the higher the number following the letters, the less noise will be transmitted. Noise reduction features are most noticeable in spaces below the room with the underlayment and floor covering, prompting many apartment complexes, office buildings and condominiums to use products with superior sound ratings.
  • Moisture resistance: Moisture is one of the biggest concerns inside a building. Floor coverings like wood or laminate are especially vulnerable to moisture. A good underlayment delivers an effective moisture barrier to help control the passage of water vapor between the subfloor and your covering.
  • Easy installation: Many underlayment types offer fast and simple installation. Depending on the style, underlayment can be installed using nailing, taping or gluing applications. Some floating systems install as quickly as rolling the product over the subfloor without needing fasteners or adhesives.
  • Eco-friendly: Many underlayments — including styles from floorMuffler® — surpass the indoor air quality emissions standards for California’s Section 01350 — the most strict volatile organic compound (VOC) emission requirement in North America. Various floorMuffler® products are also mold- and mildew-resistant and made out of recycled materials.

Best Types of Underlayment for Floors

Because not all flooring systems are the same, it’s critical to base your underlayment selection on the surface flooring you choose, the installation method, the site conditions and the performance characteristics that matter most to you. Because we offer one of the market’s most comprehensive product selections, floorMuffler® is a single source for all your underlayment needs.

Some of the different types of floorMuffler® underlayments include:

  • FloorMuffler® UltraSeal: FloorMuffler® UltraSeal is a high-performance moisture barrier and acoustic underlayment made from XLPP foam for commercial and residential flooring applications. It is the ideal underlayment for engineered, solid hardwood, and laminate flooring systems. FloorMuffler UltraSeal works well for floating, nail-down and glue-down installations.
  • FloorMuffler® Encore: FloorMuffler® Encore FloorMuffler Encore is a high-performance acoustic underlayment and moisture barrier ideal for protecting floor coverings with an attached pad in residential and commercial applications. Floors that often have an attached pad include luxury vinyl tile, plank, and rigid core flooring. XLPP foam is its primary material and works well for floating installations.
  • ComboFoam®: ComboFoam® is a polyethylene foam moisture barrier and underlayment usable in residential and commercial flooring applications. As part of our value collection, ComboFoam® works well for most engineered, laminate, and solid hardwood flooring systems. It is suitable for nail-down or floating installations.
  • Natura™: Natura™ is a moisture barrier and acoustic underlayment made from recycled fibers for commercial and residential applications. With high recycled material content, this product is exceptionally sustainable and eco-friendly. We offer Natura™ in value-grade and professional-grade options.
  • FloorMuffler® Flex: FloorMuffler® Flex is a high-performance rubber acoustic underlayment optimal for residential and commercial flooring applications. As part of our premium collection, Flex is a perfect choice for most engineered wood, solid hardwood, laminate, tile and LVT floor coverings. Flex is versatile enough for floating, glue-down and nail-down installations.
  • FloorMuffler® 3030: FloorMuffler® 3030 is a flexible, highly engineered moisture barrier made from kraft paper and an asphalt composite for residential and commercial flooring applications. FloorMuffler 3030® works well for most tile, laminate, solid hardwood, and engineered hardwood flooring systems.
  • FloorMat™ FanFold: FloorMat™ FanFold is an extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam with an ALU-PET moisture barrier and acoustic underlayment excellent for residential and commercial flooring applications. As part of our professional collection, this underlayment is ideal for most engineered, laminate and solid hardwood flooring systems. FloorMat™ works nicely for floating installations and comes with a self-sealing lip and tape system.

Where to Buy Flooring Underlayment

FloorMuffler® products are available from various leading online retailers and retail stores across the country, including Home Depot and Build Direct. Our brand is more innovative than competitors because we continuously develop new ideas and technologies that set the standard in the flooring industry.

FloorMuffler® UltraSeal and floorMuffler Encore® include a limited lifetime warranty. Many other floorMuffler® underlayments come with limited warranties of varying durations. We tailor our solutions to all our clients’ needs and offer one-on-one personalized support for all flooring applications.

Contact the Professionals at FloorMuffler®

If you’re unsure which product best suits your unique needs, the expert team at floorMuffler® can assist you. We’ll help you find the ideal underlayment solution for your floor covering, ensuring your entire system delivers the highest levels of protection and comfort. Connect with us online today to learn more.