BuildDirect Blog: Life at Home

5 Reasons You Need Underlay For Your Wood Floor Installation

underlayOn your travels in doing research about wood flooring installations, you’ll notice that your success largely depends on the details, the little things.  What I mean by this is that to attain the great look and high-performance of a quality wood floor, it’s the support elements that are vital to long term success.

And this leads me to one of the unsung heroes of the successful wood floor installation; underlay.  Your choice in underlay performs a few unglamorous, yet extremely important, functions after you’ve laid down your solid hardwood floor, bamboo floors, engineered wood flooring, or laminate floor.  Here are the 5 reasons you need underlay for your wood floor installation.

  1. Underlay evens out minor subfloor imperfections.  An even subfloor is a key element to greater stability when it comes to your choice in wood flooring.  Although it is important that major dips and flaws in your subfloor be addressed prior to an install, a quality underlay can see to the minor ones to help ensure stability.  And stability, as you know, is what you’re after if you want your floor to last.
  2. Underlay helps to reduce noise. One of the issues with laminate flooring, and other floating floors, is the noise of footfalls.  This has improved as flooring products have evolved, of course.  But, for additional footfall noise reduction, your choice in underlay can be your knight in shining armor.
  3. Underlay helps keep your flooring warm.  One of the key elements to any floor covering is comfort.  And a big part of that is a warm floor.  A good underlay keeps the damp cold away from the floor board, and the resulting cold away from your feet.  And speaking of damp …
  4. Underlay aids in moisture resistance. This benefit is particularly true when you invest in an underlay with an attached vapor barrier.  Maybe it’s broken record time, seeing as I’ve talked about ways to keep moisture away from your wood floors at all costs quite a bit here on this blog. But, when you’re floating a floor over a concrete subfloor, this is one of the critical functions that underlay performs that can’t be undervalued. When it comes to moisture resistance, every little bit helps.
  5. Underlay acts as a cushioning agent. This circles back to the comfort factor, and may be the best example of a little detail that is so important in the long-term.  A good quality underlay can make the simple act of walking on your floor more comfortable, just by providing a subtle cushioning effect.  Since you’ll be walking on your floors a lot, you might as well get the best walking experience you can.  Your underlay helps with that.

Laying down underlay may not be the most compelling part of your project.  Yet, as you can see, the function it performs will allow you to enjoy your wood floors to a greater degree.  And enjoying the flooring you’ve selected is really the whole point, isn’t it?



Rob Jones

Rob served as Editor-In-Chief of BuildDirect Blog: Life At Home from 2007-2016. He is a writer, Dad, content strategist, and music fan.


  1. I never wear shoes in my apartment and I try to walk more on the balls of my feet rather than leading with my heel. Some people just naturally have a heavy step when they walk so when you live in an apartment without much soundproofness, you have to me mindful of how you walk. I live in the 3rd floor of a 4 story apartment and the lady above me had a really heavy step. I had to tell her once, too, because she walks like she’s really doing something important.

  2. John McPhee Reply to John

    I am about to lay down on wonderful, more non-toxic underlayment that is recycled materials and not petroluem based called Premium Underlayment, sold at Lowe’s. It is a vinyl type vapor barrier glued to a traditional rock wool type padding. My question, however, would it not be better applied upside down, with the vapor barrier against the concrete, protecting BOTH the padding and the wood floor from moisture?

    If applied as recommended, then the padding is exposed to the moisture of concrete, risking a build-up of mold as the moisture is trapped in the padding between the moisture barrier and the concrete?

    So I could apply upside down, with the moisture barrier against the concrete, OR, of course, add a second moisture barrier against the concrete so that the moisture cannot reach the padding either…..

    Anyone have suggestions? Never have floated a hardwood floor on concrete……

    John – 505-577-8351

  3. I certainly agree that having a wooden floor underlay is essential, especially when considering factors such as warmth and noise reduction!

  4. Homasote for subflooring … does it help?

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