Underlayment: Choosing The Best Option To Protect Your Laminate Flooring

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Last updated on January 14th, 2024 at 11:58 am

Why Do You Need Underlayment Installed Under Laminate Flooring? Find Out Here?

Wondering if you need underlayment for laminate flooring on your concrete subfloor?

I get it. Laminate flooring is already expensive enough, and no one wants to spend extra money on underlayment if they don’t have to. 

Let me tell you why you need to install underlayment for laminate flooring that will be sitting on concrete.

Underlayment is important because it is a moisture/sound barrier, and cushion support. Concrete subfloors have a higher moisture content and require more soundproofing and cushion support than wood subfloors, so high-quality underlayment is essential for the longevity of laminate flooring over concrete.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me help you choose the best underlayment for your concrete subfloor.

Let’s dive in!

Quick Navigation: Underlayment For Laminate Flooring On Concrete

  1. Reasons Why You Need Underlayment
  2. How To Choose The Best Underlayment For Laminate Flooring On Concrete
  3. Final Thoughts
  4. Related Laminate Flooring Articles

Reasons Why You Need Underlayment For Laminate Flooring On Concrete

Underlayment installed under laminate flooring is important for several reasons. These reasons include being a moisture barrier, sound barrier, and extra cushion support.

Moisture Barrier

The most important feature of underlayment is its moisture barrier qualities. For environments with high humidity or homes with concrete subfloors, having a good underlayment pad is essential.

The last thing you want to happen to your brand new laminate floors (that should last 25+ years) is for them to warp and break down after a few years from the moisture damage creeping up from underneath them.

Underlayment that has been taped together creates a barrier that blocks that moisture from touching your gorgeous laminate flooring. That alone will help them last for decades.

do you need underlayment for laminate flooring on concrete - moisture barrier
No moisture worries for us! We protected the entire area with underlayment!

Sound Barrier

The next important feature of underlayment is its sound barrier qualities. The thicker the underlayment pad, the quieter it is when you walk on it. 

That is a benefit that you’ll want in your new home because it will minimize the sound of your steps throughout your house.

Then you’ll have no worries about waking someone up or just driving yourself crazy from the loud noise you’re making as you walk around throughout your day.

The sound barrier aspect is most important for laminate flooring on concrete subfloors because the concrete will enhance the echo created from the laminate flooring. Wood subfloors help to deaden some of that sound, but not as much as adding an underlayment pad will.

do you need underlayment for laminate flooring on concrete - sound barrier
Other than when I wear heels, the sound from our steps are dampened fairly well.

Cushion

The last important feature of underlayment is the extra cushion support. This feature is also extremely important for laminate flooring installed on concrete subfloors because concrete is hard on your joints.

If you’ve ever stood on concrete for long periods, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. You won’t want to walk on your new laminate floors for years and damage your feet, knees, and ankles over time because there isn’t enough cushion support underneath.

Wood subfloors are a little softer on your joints, but again, the more cushion support underneath, the better it is on your joints (and the longer the pad will last).

Underlayment also helps to keep heat in, which is important for concrete floors that are hard to keep warm. The padding will create some insulation and help keep some of that heat in your home (or the air conditioning in the summer).

Now that we’ve talked about all of the aspects of underlayment that are important to concrete subfloors, let’s talk about how to choose a quality underlayment pad.

do you need underlayment for laminate flooring on concrete - cushion support
My floors feel like they have more support than when I stood on a piece of laminate on the concrete without underlayment.


Related Laminate Flooring Articles


How To Choose The Best Underlayment For Laminate Flooring On Concrete

There are a vast amount of underlayment options out there. So let’s break it down into a good, better, best rating to help you determine which quality of underlayment is best for your situation.

TypePrice $Moisture ProtectionSound BarrierExtra CushionBest Application
Traffic Master Standard Underlayment (“Good”) – Home DepotLowest – $0.30 / sq ftYesLeast sound reduction – *IIC 61, STC 54Thinner – 2 mm thickLaminate flooring on wood subfloor
Traffic Master Advanced Underlayment (“Better”) – Home DepotMedium – $0.40 / sq ftYesMedium sound reduction – *IIC 66, STC 60Thinner – 2 mm thickLaminate flooring on wood subfloor
QuietWalk Underlayment (“Best”) – Home DepotHighest – $0.50 / sq ftYes (Plus Moisture/Mildew Resistant)Most sound reduction – *IIC 71, STC 66Thicker – 3 mm thickLaminate flooring on concrete or wood subfloor
*definition below – sound reduction measurements

Good” Quality Underlayment – Pros and Cons

The first type of underlayment you can choose is what I would consider “good” quality. Traffic Master’s 2-in-1 Standard Underlayment from Home Depot falls under this category.

do you need underlayment for laminate flooring on concrete - Traffic master standard underlayment
When spending so much money on new laminate flooring, I like to make sure I’m choosing products that will protect it for decades to come. This one is a little too thin for my liking.

This underlayment is the lowest priced on the list (costing around $0.30 / sq ft), the thinnest (2 mm thick), and has the least sound reduction.

It does provide a moisture barrier though, which is required for laying laminate flooring.

For those with concrete subfloors, this underlayment will not provide enough cushion support or sound reduction. Also, because concrete has a higher moisture content, an underlayment with mildew resistance would protect your floors better than this one.

Because of these characteristics, the best application of this underlayment is underneath laminate flooring on a wood subfloor.

Sound Reduction Measurements

The sound reduction is measured in IIC (Impact Insulation Class) and STC (Sound Transmission Class). The higher the rating for both of these numbers, the better the sound reduction of the laminate.

IIC (Impact Insulation Class) Definition: a measurement of how much impact sound (walking, jumping, etc.) is reduced after passing through the underlayment and flooring and entering into the room below. An IIC rating of 50 or higher provides good soundproofing for impact sounds.

STC (Sound Transmission Class) Definition: a measurement of how much airborne sound (speech, TV, music, etc.) is reduced after passing through the underlayment and flooring and entering into the room below. An STC rating of 60 or higher provides good soundproofing for airborne sounds.

Better” Quality Underlayment – Pros and Cons

The second type of underlayment you can choose is what I would consider “better” quality. Traffic Master’s 3-in-1 Advanced Underlayment from Home Depot falls under this category.

do you need underlayment for laminate flooring on concrete - traffic master advanced underlayment
This underlayment is a solid option for those who want to keep the budget down a little bit.

This underlayment is similar to the “good” quality one, except it has a little bit better sound reduction. The cost for this one runs in the middle of the pack (around $0.40 / sq ft) and provides a moisture barrier along with a medium level of sound reduction (compared to the other two underlayments).

Again, for those with a concrete subfloor, this underlayment falls a little short (but better than the previous option). The cushion on this one is the same thickness as the “good” quality pad, so you’re not gaining any value there.

You will have a slight bit more sound reduction, but not enough in my opinion to justify the $0.10 / sq ft price difference. And again, for a concrete subfloor, this will provide a moisture barrier, but a mildew-resistant one is much more preferable for a higher moisture subfloor.

Because of these characteristics, the best application of this underlayment is underneath laminate flooring on a wood subfloor. 

Do I Need Underlayment For Laminate Flooring With An Attached Pad?

If you have laminate flooring with an attached pad, then you should not install additional underlayment underneath.

“Doubling up” on underlayment can end up hurting the floor, rather than helping it. If the flooring that the laminate is sitting on top of is too soft, then the joints can be compromised and break down over time.

Just be sure that the attached pad on the laminate flooring acts as a moisture barrier. Otherwise, you’ll want to install a thin moisture barrier like this Roberts Moisture Barricade Film from Home Depot.

do you need underlayment for laminate flooring on concrete - Roberts moisture film
This moisture film will help protect your laminate flooring with attached pads on a concrete subfloor.

Best” Quality Underlayment – Pros and Cons

The last type of underlayment you can choose is what I would consider “best” quality. QuietWalk’s Sound & Moisture Barrier Underlayment found at Amazon falls under this category.

do you need underlayment for laminate flooring on concrete - quietwalk plus best underlayment
I’m a huge fan of the quality and ease of use of this underlayment. Now I know my laminate flooring will be protected from my concrete subfloor for years to come!

This underlayment is made of recycled materials (instead of foam like the other two), so it has superior moisture absorption, sound absorption, and cushioning. The cost for this one runs at the higher end (around $0.50 / sq ft) and provides a moisture barrier with mildew resistance along with the highest level of sound reduction (compared to the other two underlayments).

Now, usually, I’m not one to pick the “best” version of any product because the quality differences between “better” and “best” usually aren’t different enough for me to justify the price difference.

But in this case, I have a different opinion. Since we are talking about underlayment on concrete subfloors specifically, moisture protection and cushion support are too important to take the cheaper route.

The moisture protection on this product is different from the other two. It soaks up moisture from the concrete and helps it dissipate (instead of holding it in and causing mildew and mold!)

And the recycled materials stay firm over time, so the joints in the laminate flooring are protected no matter how high of traffic an area sees. (Don’t forget that the thicker the underlayment, the better it is on the joints of your knees and feet as well. You gotta protect your own body, friend.)

Because of these characteristics, the best application of this underlayment is underneath laminate flooring on a concrete subfloor. 

Choose The Right Underlayment For Your Home

Ultimately, the right underlayment for you depends on your price range and desires for your home.

Any of these underlayment pads will protect your laminate flooring from moisture, which is the most important feature. Outside of that, the level of sound reduction and extra cushion support is up to you and your preferences!

For concrete subfloors specifically, though, the QuietWalk Sound & Moisture Barrier Underlayment found at Amazon will make your laminate floor last the longest and feel the best as you walk on it for decades.

Final Thoughts On Underlayment For Laminate Flooring On Concrete

There you have it! Underlayment is a small upfront investment that will help you get the most time and comfort out of your new laminate floors.

Now you’ve got all of the knowledge you need to make an educated purchase on your underlayment!

Catch you in my next post!

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Underlayment: Choosing The Best Option To Protect Your Laminate Flooring

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