January 30, 2023

The Top 5 Reasons Why You Need Underlayment for Your Hardwood Flooring

Craftsman installing new laminated wooden floor on blue acoustic thermal flooring underlayment.

This 2023 hardwood flooring continues to be one of the best-selling flooring options in residential homes. While they provide numerous benefits, proper care and attention will help you maximize these perks. Installing hardwood floors is not easy, as any mishap can happen from the preparation to placement. Uneven leveling, future bulking, and squeaking floors can also affect the experience. Although optional, underlayments help minimize errors and other issues with your hardwood floor. Here are the five reasons why your hardwood floorings need underlayment.

1.   Protects Hardwood Floors from Moisture Damage

Water damage is inevitable, but homeowners can still minimize its impact on their hardwood floors. Accidental spills, flooding, and humidity level changes can find their way around hardwood planks. Unlike engineered hardwood, solid hardwood strips absorb more moisture quickly and seep below the floorboards.

Water damage doesn’t present itself immediately, and it may take months or years to identify. When you discover the problem, your floors have already suffered from severe damage and are irreparable. Contrary to popular belief, protecting your hardwood flooring from moisture means taking care of both sides of the floorboards. Applying finishes on the exposed sides shields the surface helps, but it does nothing to the other parts of the planks.

Installing underlayments before laying out your hardwood planks creates another protective barrier against moisture. Instead of your floorings, these materials absorb water and moisture from the ground and those dripping through the floorboards. In addition, it sucks the water from the air filling the space between the hardwood flooring and the subfloor.

Underlayments act like a sponge. Depending on the material you use, they can be more moisture-resistant due to their higher absorption rate. Felt and rubber work best to prevent both sides of the hardwood from the water damage effects like mold and mildew growth.

2.   Increases Longevity

Subfloors are flat surfaces that create the foundations of rooms in residential homes. Builders often settle them on top of the house’s interior structure, which comes in various forms. Common subfloors use plywood boards or concrete. When you install new hardwood flooring, the hardwood planks come in direct contact with these materials.

Hardwood floors, like any other flooring option, endure daily wear and tear, including the additional weight from placed furniture. The more you use the space, the higher foot traffic it handles. The frequency and the age of your floors can add to the planks bending earlier from pressure.

Hardwood planks dip under pressure as a reaction to gravity. When they do, they make contact with the subfloor’s surface and rub against each other. The friction from the exchange erodes the floor from below. With an underlayment, you provide a cushion between your hardwood floorboards and the subfloor. It minimizes their contact and relieves the intensity of the enforced weight.

3.   Sound Absorption

Hardwood floors have flat and hard surfaces creating the best conditions for sound to bounce and echo around the room. Besides the noise bouncing off the exposed layer of hardwood planks, they can also move below the floor. The small spaces left between the hardwood flooring and the subfloor make a little hollow gap that further production of echoes.

In addition, when the planks and subfloor collide, their impact release more sound. Sometimes, loose or bulking hardwood floors rubbing against another plank can generate more noise, like squeaks and creaks.

Underlayment adds a cushioning layer to fill the gaps and prevent noise from moving. All underlayment types absorb sound waves and reduce sounds from reverberating around the space. With more layers and density filling the space, it becomes harder for the sound frequencies to travel.

4.   Adds Insulation

One of the elements of good flooring is comfort which includes a warm underfoot feeling. Hardwood floors are quick to absorb cold air that comes from the damp subfloor. Although they’re beautiful and long-lasting, hardwood floorboards without underlayment can be uncomfortable to walk on during cold days.

Like what they do with soundwaves, underlayment absorbs heat and blocks cold air. These materials create insulation layers that help control the room and floor’s temperature. Cork, foam, and rubber offer the most added insulation because of their density.

5.   They Level the Subfloors

Subfloors are flat surfaces that set the foundation of your home’s structure. But depending on the materials you use and the age of your house, some of them can't endure the daily wear and tear. When this happens, the subfloors become uneven. Installing new hardwood floor planks on top of unleveled subflooring can affect the floor's look.

Some remodelers fix it during replacement or installation, but the ideal approach is inserting an underlayment. By doing this, you have an added and even leveling. In addition, installing hardwood flooring on leveled subfloors makes it easier to connect and latch the planks together.

The Importance of Underlayment in Hardwood Flooring Installation in Austin, TX

Hardwood flooring installation can become tedious without placing any underlayment on your subfloors. Although hardwood floors are durable, they’re still vulnerable to many factors that will damage their look and longevity. These five reasons for the importance of underlayment show that homeowners can further protect their wooden floorings.

Get to know more about hardwood flooring installation in Austin with Kelly Hardwood Floors today!