An underlayment is essential to cover imperfections in the subfloor. It enhances flooring protection, reduces noise between floors and provides a uniform base to install your choice of flooring. Selecting the right underlayment is imperative for a sleek finish. Below are a few insights from underlayment experts at Pour it On to make installation easier.
What is Underlayment?
The protective layer beneath your flooring is called underlayment. No matter what your flooring is made of, it requires underlayment to optimize visual appeal, performance and durability. There are several layers of underlayment. You need a floor covering; a strong subfloor such as plywood, cement board or concrete for support; a soft barrier such as felt or carpet padding and protection to keep off moisture for basement flooring and humid regions.
What is the right underlayment for different flooring materials?
- Tile Floors: Tiles are the most popular choice in flooring, used mostly for bathrooms and kitchen, due to their water-resistant properties. There’s a wide variety of tiles available in assorted shapes, styles and colours. Tiles need strong underlayment support so they don’t crack when stepped on. But tiles also need to be flexible to absorb expansion and contraction from fluctuating temperature and humidity. The underlayment material that goes best with tiles are:
- Cement Board Underlayment (CBU): CBU is made of fibres made from wood or cellulose to reinforce cement. The fibres increase underlayment flexibility so they don’t crack under pressure. Cement boards can be nailed, screwed or glued to the subfloor.
- DITRA Uncoupling Membrane: Made from polythene, this is a premium underlay with attractive grid-stye square cavities that allow the mortar to stick to the tile after it hardens to form a firm base. DITRA allows tile expansion and contraction, provides an effective barrier for moisture and can be installed over wood, concrete and radiant heated floors.
2) Laminate Flooring: Laminate flooring costs less, is attractive, durable and provides a good alternative to hardwood flooring. High-quality laminate flooring is equipped with underlayment to allow greater stability. If there is no underlay, you need to select one of the options below to create more stability.
- Foam Laminate Underlayment: Foam has two types of underlayment: combination – laminate underlay with a moisture barrier for basement and bathrooms and foam underlay with no barrier. Foam upgrades are available with attached rubber or fibres to provide greater durability and reduce noise. Foam sheets are easy to install. The edges need to be butted instead of overlapped.
- Acoustical Laminate Underlayment: To minimize sound caused by foot traffic, this is the best choice. It is available in cork and felt varieties that provide a moisture barrier. Like foam, these can be rolled out and butted at the edges.
3) Hardwood Floors: Hardwood flooring comes in various styles such as oak, maple, hickory, cork and bamboo to name some.
- Felt is commonly used to provide strength, density and moisture resistance.
- Pliable cork is also a common underlayment choice, with or without moisture barrier because it can be trimmed to fit around doorways easily. Do remember that solid hardwood must not be installed in basement or humid regions.
- Rubber Hardwood underlayment offers effective moisture resistance, superior insulation and noise reduction. It is easy to work with but more expensive.
- Foam underlay has effective sound absorption, mould and moisture resistance, density and durability. It is perfect for high humid areas.
4) Vinyl Floors: The best underlay for vinyl is plywood. You need to remove toilets, pedestal sinks and other fixtures before installing with plywood adhesive. Plywood installation requires a proficient hand so it’s better to leave it to experts.
Pour It On for Superior Underlayment Products in the GTA
You will find top grade gypsum and cement underlayment products at Pour It On Inc. to solve any floor problem. We can install underlayment in wood, concrete or steel frame construction for home renovation purposes as well as commercial applications. Our floor toppings are quick to install and dry, offering a smooth, fire-resistant finish to any project in the GTA. Call us for consultation.