With new designs and relatively easy click and lock installation, laying your own floor has never been simpler. That doesn’t mean, however, that everyone is expected to be a professional builder or decorator instantly and with no instruction whatsoever. Whether you are a DIY enthusiast or just an enthusiastic beginner it is important to know the right way to put down your laminate flooring and what happens if you do it wrong, so here we will talk about the best kinds of underlay to use with laminate flooring and what might happen if you decide to go without.
Can you put laminate flooring down without underlay?
Firstly it is indeed possible to put down laminate without underlay, and if you are in a real hurry and the room is flat you can do it, but it is likely to impact the quality and longevity of your floor. You should always check your particular flooring though, as many high-quality laminate floorboards come with their underlay already attached, so in this case, you would not have to put your own down as well. There are some types of flooring like vinyl that do not require underlay, usually when it is being stuck or stapled directly onto the subfloor, but when your new floating floor is being laid over the subfloor you will find that underlayment is really important in the long run.
What happens if you don’t put underlayment under laminate flooring?
As to what actually happens if you go ahead and lay your laminate without underlayment, this can vary a little depending on what you are installing your new floor on top of, how flat the surface is, and several other factors like temperature. If your floor is uneven even to the smallest degree a lack of underlay will cause your laminate to move and shift. It will settle into the dips and this can cause warping, damage, and wear all of which will ruin your laminate and end up costing you a lot when you have to replace it. An overly uneven floor would have to be levelled before putting anything down, but slight discrepancies can be managed with a good underlay helping to cushion and reduce the differences. With a floating floor-like laminate, the underlayment is so important for stability and really is a must when installing your planks.
A lack of underlay can also damage how your laminate fits together. The click and lock system that makes it an ideal DIY job also requires the support of an underlay to keep it performing well. Remove that and when you walk on the floor you will put pressure on the joints causing them to splinter or break and once again destroy your laminate. It must be evenly spread over the subfloor to work as a whole, and underlayment allows for this distribution and stability for your entire floor.
Noise can also be an issue when you forgo underlayment. Another of its real benefits is how it dampens sound, and without it you can be left with a loud creaking and even cracking floor. After going to the expense of buying your lovely new floor, selecting your favourite from DIY Floorboards, and getting them to your house ready to install it would be such a shame to waste all that money time, and effort by not giving your new floor the correct underlay, so do not take the risk and make sure you not only do use underlayment but that you select the right kind.
What is a good underlayment for laminate flooring?
Now that you know you should use underlay it is now time to decide which kind to use in this particular situation. While it may seem that surely one kind would be as good as another, you once again have to get the right kind of thickness and cushioning in order to properly support the click and lock mechanism and your floor as a whole.
Underlayment that was made for carpets, for instance, is not suitable for use under laminate. This time the problem might sound a little silly – your floor will be too cushioned and bouncy – but it isn’t just a case of how it might feel underfoot. Once again the problem is that if your laminate can move and bend too much in any way it is more likely to get warped, damaged, or even ruined. Laminate flooring can last upwards of 25 years when installed correctly, or a lot less if not, so don’t try and save a few pennies reusing old carpet underlayment. It is worth investing in the correct laminate underlay.
Similarly, there is no benefit to doubling up your underlay and in fact, it can cause these same problems of having too much bounce and not enough structure underneath your floor. Some people think that having an extra layer will improve the acoustic effects of underlay, give you a nice feel underfoot and even keep more heat in but in reality, it is again likely to cause problems in your floor over time.
Foam underlay is an excellent choice for laminate and comes in a variety of thicknesses to suit all homes and houses, but really the best thing to do is check which is recommended with your particular floorboards when you buy them.
A sometimes overlooked and underrated component of flooring, underlayment is really important for the even distribution, stability, and support of your laminate flooring and is ignored at your own risk. It is far better to invest in the correct quality underlay and get it laid down first than risk causing damage to your new floor which could cost you far more to fix or replace, so make sure you know which is the best kind for your floor and get your underlay today.