Is Underlayment Required for Hardwood Flooring?

Hardwood floors are a significant, lasting home investment. They’re timeless, durable and sophisticated. You put a lot of time and effort into selecting the right hardwood floors for your home — the last thing you want is damage or inconveniences caused by a lack of hardwood underlayment. The underlayment sits between your hardwood and the subfloor, adding cushioning, moisture protection and more. With underlayment, you can avoid hardwood issues and enjoy your floors fully. 
 

Let’s look at why underlayment is needed on hardwood to help you navigate your flooring installation. You’ll enjoy your hardwood floors for longer with a good-quality underlayment installation.
 

What Is Hardwood Underlayment?

Underlayment is a supportive layer installed in between your hardwood and subfloor. It’s made from foam, rubber, cork or felt — these materials are softer than hardwood and more flexible. They absorb sound and help cushion the hardwood, smoothing out minor subfloor issues and giving the hardwood a level, soft surface to sit on. It’s not susceptible to moisture damage like wood is and helps prevent heat loss from the hardwood. With a good underlayment, your floors are better protected from harm. They’ll last longer with an underlayment layer installed. 
 

Why You Need Underlayment

Hardwood underlayment sits underneath your hardwood floors, lying between them and the subfloor. Underlayment helps protect your hardwood floors from damage and makes them more comfortable. A good quality underlayment enhances the life span of your hardwood — you need it to ensure your hardwood floors stay durable and protected throughout their use in your home. Getting underlayment will improve your hardwood experience and help you get the most out of your investment. 
 

Benefits of Using Underlayment on Hardwood

Using hardwood underlayment comes with lots of benefits and is always required. It is an excellent step for anyone looking to keep their hardwood in good condition for decades. If you invest in quality support for your hardwood floors, they’ll hold up much better, and you won’t have to sacrifice style for function. Here are some benefits you can expect when using a hardwood underlayment:
 

Reduces Sound

An underlayment provides an extra layer of cushioning for your floors. Adding a layer between your hardwood and subfloor helps the floor absorb sound and reduce movement. Without underlayment, footsteps can sound loud and echoey — the underlayment absorbs footsteps and sounds on the hardwood, making your home much quieter. Older wood can be prone to creaking, but a good underlayment will quiet your home. Your house will be more peaceful and relaxing without loud footsteps at all hours. 
 

Blocks Moisture

Since hardwood is all-natural wood, it’s particularly vulnerable to water damage. When exposed to moisture for extended periods, hardwood will rot and warp. Similarly, engineered hardwood will suffer if exposed to moisture for long enough. Water and humidity in the subfloor travel up into the hardwood, weakening it and ruining your floors over time. Underlayment has a protective vapor barrier that prevents moisture from soaking into your wood floors. Your floors will last longer with moisture protection from an underlayment. 
 

Cover Subfloor Imperfections

Any severe issues with the subfloor, like cracks and holes, will still affect your hardwood, but a good underlayment can help smooth out any minor subfloor imperfections. Subfloor issues can affect hardwood installation and compromise your floor’s durability. While a quality professional installation team will take a can of subfloor leveling before the underlayment goes down, the underlayment will provide an extra layer of support and coverage to ensure your hardwood stays strong. 
 

Warms Floors

While hardwood is not always comfortable to sit on, you can make yours warmer and more comfortable with underlayment. Wood can be cold during the winter, soaking up the subfloor’s chill. Certain types of underlayment provide insulating benefits, meaning your floors will be much warmer in the winter. Your floors won’t lose their heat to the subfloor — instead, the underlayment will keep out the cold all winter long. You’ll enjoy having hardwood floors that aren’t consistently chilly to walk on. 
 

What Happens When You Don’t Use Underlayment?

Hardwood underlayment is beneficial no matter your subfloor, but it’s essential for homes with concrete subfloors. With underlayment, your floors will be more comfortable and durable. Using underlayment prevents issues from popping up. Hardwood floors are already a significant investment — without the proper protection and support, you’ll have to replace your floors much earlier than you want. 
 

Here are some of the potential issues you’ll deal with if you skip an underlayment:
 

  • Moisture damage: Moisture damage from mold and mildew is one of the most common reasons for floor failure in your home. Without proper protection from an underlayment, your floor can rot, crown and warp. You’ll end up paying for expensive repairs or replacements instead of getting to enjoy your hardwood floors for decades. 
  • Installation issues: Subfloor issues can contribute to a less-than-perfect installation without underlayment. Over time, your hardwood planks can shift or bend, affecting their durability and comfort. Your current subfloor might not support the hardwood. Your flooring installation might not be successful, or the hardwood could suffer issues over the years due to a lack of underlayment. 
  • Loud noises: Wood can be noisy and echoey without an underlayment. All the noises in your home are amplified without and underlayment to absorb it all. Both the subfloor and the hardwood will bounce sound back around the house, making it a much louder and more uncomfortable place — underlayment muffles sound, absorbing it instead of bouncing all around you. 
 

Proper installation is just as important as a hardwood underlayment. Make sure you work with a professional flooring installation company when installing your hardwood floors. They’ll examine your subfloor, lay down the underlayment and ensure your hardwood installation is done correctly. Professionals are better equipped to tackle your flooring installation — they can spot issues early and work with your home to deliver a lasting installation. 
 

Choose Area Flooring & Tile, Inc. for Your Harwood Installation

Choosing a trusted contractor for your hardwood flooring installation is essential. Experienced professionals will ensure your subfloor is up to the installation, and they’ll install an underlayment to help protect your hardwood investment long-term. Hardwood floors are attractive, lasting investments — you want to be sure your installer will do everything correctly to ensure its longevity. 
 

Are Flooring & Tile, Inc. is a trusted, family-owned flooring company in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Our unmatched customer service and quality, affordable flooring and remodeling services make us stand out from other services in the area. Our expert team has the experience and knowledge you need to carry out your flooring vision. We’ll work with you every step of the way to ensure you get the best flooring services possible. If you’re interested in transforming your home, contact us today to learn more.