January 27, 2023

Types of Hardwood Flooring Underlayment

Worker cutting underlayment for flooring

Hardwood floors are elegant additions and worthwhile investments to many residential homes in 2023. Although they’re durable flooring options, it’s ideal providing them with more protection besides waterproof finishes. Installing an underlayment before laying out your hardwood flooring isn’t necessary, but it offers numerous perks. They add stability and durability and even out subflooring imperfections. Underlayment also comes in various forms, and each material has certain benefits. With this guide, you’ll learn the types of underlayment you can use for your hardwood floor. 

What is an Underlayment, and Why Do You Need Them?

Underlayment is a layer of material between your hardwood flooring and your subfloor. Some flooring options have an attached underlayment, but hardwood planks do not. This layer often uses materials like rubber, cork, foam, or felt.

Besides adding a protective layer on the other side of your floorboards, an underlayment gives softness to your flooring. Here are other benefits of installing underlayment.

  • Provides support
  • Absorbs sound
  • Resists moisture
  • Levels the subfloors
  • Adds longevity
  • Traps heat and block out cold air

In addition, installing an underlayment keep your floor connected when they shift. This often happens when there’s friction or movement between the subfloor and hardwood flooring, and they act as a barrier between the two.

How Thick Does My Underlayment Need to Be?

Most remodelers and homeowners ask how thick their underlayment needs to be and struggle with it. But the truth is that the thickness of the material isn’t essential. When it comes to the underlayment, its type, sound ratings, and density matter are more significant considerations.

But, the average thickness of underlayments is between two to three millimeters. Some brands advertise that thicker underlayment means doubled benefits, but that isn’t true. For example, the effectiveness of underlayment with soundproofing will always depend on its material and density.


Felt is one of the most popular types of hardwood flooring underlayment. They’re the classic option for many homeowners because they offer basic moisture resistance and sound absorption. Heavier layers of black felt add insulation and double its former features. In addition, black felt underlayments also provide extra cushioning and comfort.

Felt underlayment is also an eco-friendly option as they come from recycled fibers. Despite the origin of their raw materials, this option is denser than foam, making it easier for them to absorb sound. Unlike other types, felt is a simple and common choice for homeowners.


Like felt, foam is another common variety of underlayments. In addition, they’re also affordable and easy to install. This option provides extra cushioning, flexibility, and insulation to your hardwood floors.

Foam underlayment minimizes the friction between your hardwood floorboards and your subfloor. The planks can naturally expand and contract with the seasons without creating damage with the help of this protective layer.

Foam underlayments also have high levels of sound absorption and provide a drastic reduction of hollow noises. Echoing soundwaves and impacts against the flooring from the upper floors won’t travel down to other areas of the house easily. Some foam varieties have built-in moisture or vapor barriers that protect hardwood floors from water damage.


Rubber is another easy-to-install underlayment option due to its pliability and flexibility. They’re a versatile alternative that offers excellent moisture resistance, sound absorption, and insulation. In addition, they are naturally waterproof and prevent moisture problems on your hardwood floors, like mold and mildew growth.

Rubber underlayment is also one of the best options for sound absorption. Not to mention, they prevent hollow-sounding floors and provide better insulation. Unlike foam and felt, rubber is less popular with many homeowners because of its price. But if you have the budget, they’re a worthwhile addition for their easy installation and incredible benefits.


Another unpopular underlayment choice like rubber, cork underlayment is a great option for homes. Unlike other underlayments, cork is a natural and renewable resource. They use environmentally friendly raw materials and absorb sounds well.

Their exceptional sound absorption feature makes cork ideal for second-story rooms or apartments. In addition, the firm yet flexible material is best for adjusting imperfections in the subfloor while offering extra stability.

Cork is a natural insulator that regulates the floor’s temperature and contains anti-microbial properties. Due to this, mold and bacteria growth is preventable. The only downside with them is that they’re not waterproof.

Choosing the Right Underlayment With the Best Hardwood Flooring Services in Austin, TX

Hardwood floors are a costly home improvement venture. Despite the amount of money you need to spend on hardwood flooring, their effects on your home value are worth every penny. In addition, they also provide numerous benefits like their durability, appearance, and longevity. To maximize these amazing perks, protecting them on both sides is essential. With an underlayment, your home can have beautiful soundproofed wooden flooring with additional stability and protection.

Check out what underlayment fits your hardwood floors with an expert from Kelly Hardwood Floors today!