I made a list of currently best Underlayment for laminate floors on the market taking in to consideration multiple factors such as IIC and STC ratings, moisture or vapor barier, thicknes, material made and some other features.
When sticking all together I came up with list of 10 best underlayment for laminate floors which are:
- Roberts Super 360 sq. ft. Felt Cushion Roll for Laminate Flooring
- First Step 630-Sq. ft. Roll Laminate Underlayment
- QEP Natural Cork Underlayment Roll 200 sq. ft.
- 3in1 Vapor Barrier Laminate Underlayment 1000 sq.ft
- STEICO Wood Fiber Flooring Underlayment for Laminate Vinyl LVT LVP Hardwood Floor
- Floor Muffler UltraSeal Underlayment (100 square feet Roll)
- Serenity Foam Underlayment for Laminate Flooring. (100 square feet rool)
- FLOORLOT Blue 200sqft 3mm Laminate Flooring Vapor Barrier Underlayment
- FLOORLOT Gold 200sqft 3mm Laminate Flooring Vapor Barrier Premium Silent Underlayment
- 3in1 Flooring Underlayment – Vapor Barrier Padding – IIC 65 – Bestlaminate – 2mm – Silver – 100 sf/roll
This list is not made in any quality or price order so for those who don’t have time reading my whole post this are my TOP 3 underlayments in my list:
What is the best underlayment for laminate flooring?
When we ask ourselfs what is best underlayment for laminate floors, we need to take in to consideration multiple factors andask ourselfs some important questions like:
- Is Moisture present in our space?
- Is our subfloor made out of ?
- Do we need our underlayment to have great soundproof ratings?
This are few of most important questions, you need to ask yourself before buying your best underlayment for laminate floors. For you it may be different than for your neighbour.
Lets read more about my selection and why I choose this underlayments.
For those of you who search for economical but at the same time good quality underlayment, Roberts Super Felt Cushion Roll is a great choice for you. It is specially made to go with engineered and laminate flooring. It is made from compressed recycled fibers using a special heat process. The result is great noise absorption and sound transmission.
The plastic film you can see attached to the pad is a vapor barrier. If you do not have big moisture problems in your home, you can install this underlayment as it is and it’s not necessary to seal your floors before installation.
STC (Sound Transmission Lost Test) Rating: 66
IIC (Impact Sound Transmission Test) Rating: 67
- Affordable compared to its competitors
- It is Made in the USA.
- Easy to cut, trim, and install. Make sure you have Good pair of scissors or sharp kitchen knife in hand.
- Natural felt Can help you level out minor subfloor imperfections.
- Vapor barrier included
- Comes with a practical adhesive strip that overlaps and links one roll to another.
- Can be placed on a concrete slab as well
- Provided with all ratings
- When cutting the pieces be prepared to clean up scattering polystyrene foam balls, so have a hand vacuum nearby.
- This product can be a bit delicate and can rip very easily. If you need to walk over my advice is to take off your shoes.
First Step is another affordable but yet effective underlayment for Laminate floors by Roberts. instead of the previous one, where we had felt, this one has Styrofoam beads. Be prepared to clean these foam balls after cutting it. When tested STC and IIC, It did very similarly compared to the Felt type so no main difference here. Because of Styrofoam beads, there is constant air movement, which prevents mold growth and protects the floor from moisture.
STC (Sound Transmission Lost Test) Rating: 67
IIC (Impact Sound Transmission Test) Rating: 68
R Value: .40
- Affordable price when comparing some of its competitors
- Underlayment is Made in the USA.
- Lightweight product
- You can level out minor subfloor imperfections
- Comes with an adhesive strip that overlaps and links one roll to another. This way is super easy to install.
- Vapor/moisture barrier included
- It can be laid over Concrete Slab
- When you are going to cut it, be prepared for cleaning. Polystyrene foam balls will be all over the place. Some Vacuum nearby would be almost needed.
- If you install this underlayment in a very high traffic area, Foam can compress over time.
- Delicate product during installation. Make sure you step cautiously or take off your shoes.
QEP Cork underlayment for laminate flooring is one of the most searchable items ode Condo and Apartment owners. Its Sound absorption is usually better than with most underlayments available on the market. Cork is also natural and Renewable material that fights and prevents the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria really well.
NOTE: Cork underlayment does not have a Vapor barrier so is not suitable for basements, bathrooms, and other moisture-heavy areas. If you want to place it there, you should install a vapor barrier underneath the cork first.
- straightforward installation
- You can use it for both glue-down and lose configurations
- Great Sound Absorption
- Can be used under radiant heat floors
- Amazing insulator
- Made out of natural materials
- Crack isolation – prevents cracks transfer from subfloor through to flooring surface.
- I haven’t found any underlayment ratings to compare with.
- needs extra vapor barrier, if you want to install it in moisture area.
Another highly rated and very affordable underlay for the laminate floor is 3in1 Vapor Barrier from Bestlaminate brand. It can be laid down over a cement subfloor and includes Vapor Barrier.
It’s 2 mm thick with Overlap Tape. With it, installing laminate flooring is so much easier.
- affordable price
- easy to install
- Vapor Barrier for protection against moisture, mold, and mildew.
- packed 1000 sq.ft
- can be laid down over concrete floors
- no visible ratings to compare
- you need to be delicate. It can rip quite easily.
STEICO, German-based company engineered amazing underlayment for laminate floors made out of natural wood fibers.
These Fibers are made out of pine and Spruce only and held together by natural wood glue called Lignin.
Steico underlayment is VOC free and environmentally friendly choice made out of only natural materials.
It comes in sheets easy to join together using adhesive tape. When you need to cut space for pipes or other objects, all you need is sharp objects like a knife, to adjust it to your needs.
Pro tip: Install it at a 45-degree angle so the seams of your flooring will not line up with underlayment.
Even if absorbs 20% of water and can prevent light leaks, you should use a vapor barrier in moisture spaces and over concrete slabs.
STC Rating: 55 (6′ concrete slab, no ceiling assembly) or 75 (estimated 8′ concrete slab, with ceiling assembly)
IIC Rating: 50 (6′ concrete slab, no ceiling assembly) or 73 (estimated 8′ concrete slab, with ceiling assembly)
R Value: .5
Warranty: 5 year warranty
- VOC free
- Made out of natural materials
- Can be used, if your floors have radiant heating system
- Very good ratings
- 5 year Warranty included
- Easy installation
- Slightly higher priced material
- Installing under 45 degree angle can be for some time consuming.
I love Floor muffler’s UltraSeal Underlayment. It’s for this who seak to get amazing soundproof results and moisture protection at the same time.
UltraSeal is the overall best underlayment for laminate floors if you ask me. Besides amazing ratings, it is super easy to install.
One big advantage compared to Steico (previous high quality reviewed underlayment) is in installation. This one doesn’t need to be installed under a 45-degree angle so installation takes less time overall.
- STC (Sound Transmission Lost Test) Rating: 73
- IIC (Impact Sound Transmission Test) Rating: 74
- Thickness 2 mm
- above average soundproof results
- above average moisture protection
- easy to install
- can be laid over concrete floors
- higher price for a premium product
Serenity Underlayment is great for those who are searching for budget-friendly underlayment for laminate flooring. Its made out of polyethylene foam which can be used over radiant heated floors as well.
NOTE: You can use this underlayment above the concrete slab but only with an additional moisture barrier.
- can be used on radiant heated floors
- Doesn’t have any ratings to compare with
- You don’t get any adhesive tape on the side for easy installation
- You don’t get the moisture barrier included in the price
Floorlot Blue Laminate flooring underlayment offers great value for money. If you are one of those who are not concerned about high-sound reduction metrics and are just seeking high-quality overall underlayment – this is one for you!
Floorlot Blue Reduces Noise level, levels uneven floors with its 3mm foam providing cushion when walking over. This laminate flooring underlayment includes a Moisture barrier and Peel & Stick Tape for easy installation.
NOTE: If you have Vinyl plank Floors, do not use this underlayment. Instead, read my Guide 10 best underlayment for Vinyl Floors
- 3 mm thick will provide great comfort
- The great ratio between quality and price
- Moisture protection
- Can be laid over a concrete slab
- Peel & Stick Tape for easy installation
- no official ratings to compare with
- If you leave in a condo or in a place where noise is an important buying factor consider Floorlot Gold or any of the premium laminate underlayment mentioned above.
As the name says, this one is made for those who are searching for the best underlayment for laminate with high ratings. Floorlot Gold version of laminate underlayment compared to previous Blue version has IIC Rating: 72, which makes it one of the highest on my list.
For easy installation, you will be provided with Peel & Stick tape and a grid printed on the underlayment itself. This grid will make cutting so much easier.
A premium vapor barrier will make sure you can install your laminate floors also over a concrete slab or in moisture areas.
IIC Rating: 72
- amazing soundproof ratings and results
- Affordable price for premium quality
- vapor barrier included
- Printed Grid for easier cutting
- Peel & Stick for straightforward installation
10. 3in1 Flooring Underlayment – Vapor Barrier Padding – IIC 65 – Bestlaminate – 2mm – Silver – 100 sf/roll
Another very affordable laminate underlayment with an official IIC rating of 65 which is really not bad compared to the price you are buying it.
A vapor barrier is included so you can install it on a concrete slab or places with moisture present as well.
IIC Rating: 72
- Afordable price
- Vapor barrier
- IIC rating of 65
- When you open it – it can smell strange. Leave it on the air before installing.
What is Underlayment?
Underlayment is the cushion that goes between the subfloor (the surface you are installing the floor on top of) and the flooring itself. It is typically made of resilient material, and it can come on its own,
attached to the flooring, or with its own moisture or vapor barrier. The different types of underlayment are foam, cork, or a combination of foam and a moisture barrier.
Do I Need Underlayment for Laminate Flooring?
Yes, laminate flooring always requires underlayment because it is a floating floor. This means the pieces lock together, but they are not glued or nailed down to the subfloor. Underlayment supports the interlocked boards of the flooring and has added benefits like noise reduction and insulation. Some flooring comes with the underlayment pre-attached.
More about, you can read in my post: Do wooden flooring need underlay?
How Thick Should Laminate Underlayment Be?
Typically, laminate underlayment is 2 to 3 millimeters (5/64 inches to 1/8 inches thick) thick. If you
are using a floor heating system, a thinner underlayment is best; otherwise, 3 mm provides effective cushioning and support. The thicker the underlayment, usually the better the noise reduction, insulation, and resilience.
What is a Vapor Barrier?
A vapor barrier also called a moisture barrier, is just what it sounds like: a barrier that
protects your flooring from water particles and the damage they can cause. This barrier protects your flooring from any moisture that could seep up from the subfloor. Using a vapor barrier is typically a
good idea, and it is necessary if your subfloor is cement or below ground level. Even if your underlayment comes pre-attached to your flooring, you will need to install a vapor barrier below the
underlayment. Some underlayments already have vapor barrier qualities.
How Do I Pick the Right Underlayment for Laminate Flooring?
The underlayment you use depends on the subfloor you are working with. You should also consider your space, what it will be used for, and your laminate floor type when choosing an underlayment. The main types of underlayment are standard foam, combination foam, and cork underlayment. Most subfloors are plywood, OSB (oriented strand board), or concrete.
For plywood and OSB flooring, standard foam underlayment works just fine. This type of underlayment is the most common and usually the cheapest. You can use combination foam underlayment with a moisture barrier for plywood and OSB, as well, but it is also necessary for the concrete subfloor.
If the environment will hold more moisture than usual, like in a basement or a bathroom, you should use combination underlayment or be sure to add a layer of the vapor barrier to the assembly.
Anytime noise reduction is a primary concern or you need to level the subfloor, cork underlayment will do the best job. This option is naturally antimicrobial, but it is also the most expensive option for underlayment.
How Do I Install Underlayment for Laminate Flooring?
Before You Begin:
Make sure the subfloor is completely clean and level. If you are installing a separate vapor barrier, do this first.
Step 1: Unroll and Lay Out the Underlayment
Unroll the first strip of underlayment and lay it along the longest wall. The underlayment should run the same way as the flooring. Make sure the adhesive strips on the edges are facing up when you do this. At the edges of the underlayment, allow the plastic overhang to run up the wall. This overhang will be covered by the baseboard.
Step 2: Connect the Pieces
Lay the next strip down next to the previous one. The edge of the underlayments should be touching
with only the plastic edge overlapping the previous sheet. Remove the adhesive strip from the edge of the first sheet and attach the plastic overhang tightly to the adhesive.
Step 3: Make it Fit
Go along the edges and cut out the shape of vents or other obstructions so that the underlayment can lie flat without covering anything that needs access. Make sure the corners fit securely.
What Do the Different Underlayment Ratings Mean?
There are four different official tests for sound evaluation in flooring. These are STC, FSTC, IIC, and
FIIC. These tests evaluate the sound transmission through all the flooring and ceiling layers (called the assembly) from one level of living space to another.
STC stands for “Sound Transmission Class” and FSTC stands for “Field Sound Transmission Class”
They test airborne sound transmissions like voices or
music. The only difference between STC and FSTC is that the FSTC is
conducted in an actual building rather than a sound test lab, so it
is a “field test.”
The IIC and FIIC stand for “Impact Isolation Class” and “Field Impact Isolation Class.”
They have the same difference in that one is a field test, but these tests evaluate the transmission of impact noises like footsteps or something being dropping.
What rating is permitted?
The International Building Code recommends a rating of 50 or more for the STC and IIC tests but
permits a rating of 45 or more for the field tests. Be careful when looking at underlayment ratings for various products. A rating of 70 means something is virtually soundproof, and this rating is only
Since the rating depends on the entire assembly (ceiling and/or subfloor included), this rating is going to change depending on where it is installed.
Do I need underlayment for laminate flooring on plywood?
Yes. You always need underlayment unless the laminate flooring comes with underlayment pre-attached. When installing underlayment over plywood, it may be best to skip the vapor barrier so the wood can breathe and moisture doesn’t get trapped under the floor. Consider if the room is high moisture (like a basement or a bathroom). If so, use a vapor barrier. If not, leave it out.
Can I use carpet padding as my underlayment?
No. Carpet padding is too flexible for underlayment purposes, and it can loosen the joints between the boards. The foam or cork used for underlayment provides impact absorption without allowing too much movement.
What is the difference between plywood and OSB subfloor?
Plywood is made of multiple thin sheets of wood glued together to make a strong board. OSB (oriented strand board) is made of recycled wood chips glued and pressed together. OSB is typically cheaper, more flexible, and more resistant to water. Plywood is generally tougher, more supportive, and more resistant to swelling. Both are comparable materials to use for the subfloor, but plywood is a bit stronger. This makes plywood the better choice for heavier flooring like ceramic or stone tile.
How should I care for my flooring if I have a flood or a heavy spill?
Anything that goes beyond your typical glass of spilled milk should be seriously treated to maintain the lifespan and quality of your flooring. Act quickly and clean up the water as fast as you can. Time is of the essence in a situation like this. Remove the laminate flooring in the area where the flood occurred, and allow the subfloor to dry out. Replace any flooring or subflooring that is damaged. Generally, plywood is more resistant to swelling from water than OSB, so consider this when deciding what to replace.