Wood Floor Underlayments Introduction
When installing a hardwood floor, it is important to remember the value of a good underlayment. Underlayments serve many functions, including leveling, sound reduction, and moisture protection. There are tons of different products on the market, but how do you know which one is the best fit for you?
Trying to stay within budget and yet getting the desired functionality from an underlayment can be tough. There is a multitude of high-end products which will give you the exact results you are looking for. On the other hand, there is a ton of cheap products on the market which will probably disappoint you.
Price vs. Effectiveness is a major issue when picking a wood floor underlayment. Some of the leaders in the industry are QTscu, Impacta, SoundSolution, Douracoustic, Elastilon, Nobleseal SIS, as well as standard felt, cork or 3mil poly. These are all pictured throughout this article.
So how do you pick the right product? In some cases, an architectural spec or a condo board may call for a specific product. In those cases, there is not much that can be done. This usually happens when there are strict guidelines as far as how much noise isolation is required for other tenants, or if there are serious problems with subfloor moisture. You’re better off adhering to these rules.
If you’re on your own, you need to decide on a budget and then find the best product which fits. In most cases, the high-end sound deadening products will be unattainable, but a 3-4mm cork sheet or roll is a great substitute. It is much more affrordable, and has fantastic sound control properties.
A polyethylene sheet is usually more than enough to protect your wood floor from moisture seeping through. This is assuming you performed a moisture test on the concrete subfloor and it has reasonable levels of moisture. It is recommended to be around 7-8%.
In the wood flooring industry, the standards are .15% perm rating (2006 construction standards considers anything with a 1% perm rating to be a moisture retarder), so a 6mil poly (perm rating of .13%) is very prevalent in the industry.
There are other underlayments like Bostik’s MVP, which is a moisture barrier, sound deadener and crack fixer all in one. The point is, there is an enormous amount of different underlayments out there, and our future articles will help give you some answers, but your best bet is always to consult with a professional in every case.
Some information on the differences between engineered vs. solid hardwood.
Some information on prefinished hardwood flooring.
Some information on installing and finishing hardwood flooring.
Some information on how to choose wood flooring.
Some information on hardwood floor experts.
Some information on getting wood floors online.
Some information on European hardwood floors.
Some information on maintaining wood floors.
Some information on Green Bamboo flooring.