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Should I use an underlayment with attached pad flooring?

Is Underlayment Necessary for Attached Pad Flooring?

Flooring stores are beginning to carry more floors with an attached pad and less floors without one. Attached pad flooring is a type of flooring that includes a padded material directly attached to the bottom side of the flooring plank. This material is usually made of foam or cork. Attached pads are most commonly found on certain types of luxury vinyl flooring, such as SPC, WPC, and Rigid Core Flooring. Some flooring manufacturers now offer pre-attached pad options for laminate, cork, bamboo, and engineered wood.

What benefits does an attached pad provide to the flooring?

There must be a reason why flooring manufacturers are putting a pad on the back of almost every type of flooring. The reason for an attached pad goes beyond the fact that this innovative solution is popular and profitable for both manufacturers and retailers. The attached pad helps to limit the transfer of noise from one floor to another, improving the acoustic performance of the flooring system. It also provides some degree of moisture protection for the floor.  

Despite these enhancements, there is a common misconception that an attached pad replaces the need for a traditional flooring underlayment. You may save time shopping and installing your floor if you skip the underlayment, but you will not achieve the optimal performance and longevity for your floor. 

Why should I use an underlayment with attached pad flooring?

Installing a premium flooring underlayment with attached pad flooring can significantly improve the performance of the flooring system. The first improvement that you will notice is the superior acoustics of a premium underlayment. Attached pads are generally made from thinner low-quality materials that simply cannot dampen sound as well as a premium underlayment. Since attached pads do not cover the locking mechanism of the floor, sounds and vibrations can easily escape through the seams of the floor where the planks meet. In fact, attached pads generally do not have the acoustic performance that is required for installations in multi family buildings and apartments, since homeowners’ associations require exceptional acoustic performance for these installations. That type of performance can only come from a premium acoustic underlayment. 

Perhaps the most important reason for using a premium underlayment is that attached pads do not form a complete moisture barrier. Each flooring plank has its own pad. The pads of adjacent flooring planks are not connected to one another, and they are separated by a seam. Since there is a seam separating each plank of attached pad flooring, moisture can easily slip between the flooring planks, leading to moisture damage. A premium underlayment includes a moisture proof lip and tape system to close off the seams of underlayment pieces and prevent moisture from damaging the floor.  

There are some other noticeable benefits to adding a premium underlayment to an attached pad flooring installation. Premium underlayments can also add warmth to the flooring system and level out minor imperfections in the subfloor. 

Do I need a special type of underlayment for attached pad flooring?

There are some imperative factors to consider when selecting the right underlayment for your attached pad flooring. First, the manufacturer of the attached pad flooring may not uphold the warranty of the flooring system if an underlayment is included. Always check with the flooring manufacturer to verify that they approve of the underlayment you selected for your installation.  

You also want to consider the thickness and density of the underlayment. You will want to avoid underlayments that are too thick and spongy. There is such a thing as too much cushioning. A thick underlayment with low density will compress when weight is put on the flooring system, causing the flooring planks to bend and ultimately damage the locking mechanism. It’s better to go with a thinner high-density underlayment to support the flooring system. This will provide a strong foundation and limit the amount of bending from the flooring planks. 

The next factor to consider when selecting the best underlayment for your attached pad flooring system is the acoustic performance of the underlayment. Premium underlayments include sound dampening technology that limits the transfer of impact and airborne noise from one floor to another. Sounds such as footfall, chairs dragging on the floor, music and television noise can be mitigated by a premium acoustic underlayment. When selecting an underlayment, make sure that the underlayment has exceptional acoustic abilities. 

Moisture protection is also a very important factor to consider when selecting an underlayment for attached pad flooring. You want to choose an underlayment that is a complete moisture barrier. Many premium underlayments include a lip and tape system at the seams of the underlayment. This prevents moisture from escaping through the seams where two pieces of underlayment meet, forming a true moisture barrier. Be careful when reading product packaging. Although moisture protection is an essential quality for your flooring system, some underlayments do not have this feature. Make sure you select an underlayment that offers premium moisture protection. 

What is the best underlayment for attached pad flooring?

We outlined the characteristics of an underlayment that makes it suitable for attached pad flooring. Now, we have to find an underlayment that meets the criteria. The FloorMuffler Encore underlayment has all of the recommended qualities that make it the ideal underlayment for attached pad flooring. FloorMuffler Encore is a 1.1 mm high density cross-linked polypropylene foam that provides superior acoustic performance, a complete moisture barrier and stability for the floor’s locking system. Adding a premium underlayment like FloorMuffler Encore to your attached pad flooring system can significantly increase the lifespan of your floors. 

FloorMuffler Encore has been tested for durability with an abundance of attached pad flooring systems and is backed by many of the most reputable flooring manufacturers in the world. Independent testing labs have also performed acoustic tests on FloorMuffler Encore, indicating that attached pad flooring systems with FloorMuffler Encore deliver industry leading acoustic performance. Equipped with FloorMuffler’s UltraSeal lip and tape system, Encore is easy to install in both residential and commercial applications. You can find the industry’s highest rated underlayment for vinyl plank flooring at The Home Depot stores and on

So, what is the final verdict? Should you use an underlayment with attached pad flooring? Yes, you certainly should. Just make sure that you select the right underlayment for the installation. If you are looking for superior acoustics, moisture protection, and support for your floor, then FloorMuffler Encore is the best performing underlayment for your attached pad flooring installation.