Underlays are fascinating products. Despite their lack of visibility, their benefits are nonetheless impossible to ignore. They can be the one adjustment needed for your room to function perfectly.
But which one is the best? As with many products that have various benefits and functions across the market, the answer is that it depends on what you need.
As such, QA Flooring has put together this blog to illustrate the best underlay for laminate and wood flooring for you. We will narrow down what you need for your home, as well as our products that match those needs best.
How to Choose the Best Underlay for Laminate and Wood Flooring
There are several factors that go into choosing the right underlay for you. Identifying the room type, the amount of foot traffic, the acoustic needs and the thermal requirements of your room will determine the best underlayment for you.
Foot Traffic is a concern for flooring. High amounts of foot traffic wear on the floor over time. As such, some floors may need extra protection to stand against the pressure. You want a heavy-duty underlay that is thick, with materials that are dense and have impact absorption properties.
Sound travels. Without the right underlay, your wood and laminate flooring might ruin the homey feel that these materials give by making a lot of rackets as you move over it. This is especially more likely when you go up a level, as the floors don’t have the same support that a ground floor level does. As such, you want an underlay that has high acoustic absorption.
Insulation has been a topic of discussion of late in Britain. This is due to the heightening of energy prices across the board. Now, more than ever is the time to start adding energy savings measures, to pay less for energy and enjoy a warmer, more comfortable home. As such, consider getting a thermal insulation underlay, cutting out the 10-15% of your home’s energy that would otherwise escape through the floor.
The subfloor is supposed to be cleaned and levelled before you lay down any new flooring. However, sometimes this is not done efficiently, or perhaps it’s not an option at all. In these cases, the subfloor’s irregularities may be seen through the flooring. This can be frustrating, uncomfortable and destructive to the aesthetics of the room. But with the right underlay, you could hide these imperfections and make the flooring more stable, and levelled.
Bedrooms are often a place where comfort is the highest priority. Bedrooms are essentially the private sanctuary that you want to customise to reflect yourself as much as possible. There is also usually very little in the way of foot traffic, meaning that you don’t necessarily need the highest levels of durability required. As such, you probably want a plush underlay.
Living Rooms are another place where comfort is your highest priority. However, you must also understand that foot traffic is going to be far higher in this room than in any other. This means that you’ll need something that is not only comfortable but durable.
Kitchens and Bathrooms
These rooms are places that will always have a high amount of moisture due to the nature of the room. With not only a high amount of spills occurring but also sharp changes in temperatures, you will need to ensure that your underlay has moisture barriers to absorb and protect both the floor and the subfloor.
Basements can be very damp places and can change in temperature abruptly. This affects the rest of the house, as the dampness can invite mould, which can damage your respiratory health. On top of that, a lot of heat escapes into the basement and through the floor of it. As such, there’s a very good way to hold both issues off – an underlay that has both a moisture barrier and insulation capabilities.
QA Flooring’s Recommendations
So now that we understand what type of underlays are best for which condition, need, or room you’re in, let’s take a look at our recommendations for what you may need.
UniBase is an underlayment by QA Flooring that is made entirely from recyclable PE foam. This means it’s not only highly effective, but it is eco-friendly. The benefits of this underlayment are as follows:
- Long Lasting – UniBase is a light traffic underlayment that offers consistent support for years to reduce wear and tear, ensuring your wood maintains its freshness for many years to come.
- Lightweight – UniBase is very light, making it easy to lift and manipulate during the process. This makes the handling less of a hassle and ensures a smooth setup.
- Moisture – UniBase also features a moisture barrier on the more expensive, higher-quality variants, ensuring that your wood floor is free of warping due to water damage.
The UniBase types are as follows:
- Bronze – Bronze is the standard choice. Your floors will be more resistant to wear and tear with this installed.
- Silver – Silver is much the same, except it has a moisture barrier added.
- Gold – Gold has a moisture barrier, but has highly enhanced durability. You can expect a luxurious feel underfoot with this option.
We recommend UniBase for rooms with low traffic, such as bedrooms and guest rooms.
Silver-lux underlays are crafted from 100% recyclable PE foam, making it another eco-friendly type.
- Moisture – One of the features that stand out with the Silver Lux is its ability to protect against moisture, preserving the integrity of the floors it’s laid under by absorbing moisture before it has any chance to harm the subfloor or your floor.
- Dust-Free Installation – Silver Lux’s installation process is dust-free, meaning that you needn’t worry about allergies or any respiratory problems being triggered or worsened. It’s also a very quick fitting process with this in mind, as you needn’t do much cleaning afterwards.
The Barrier Series
Both of these are composed of lightweight PE foam.
- Vapour Barrier – Both underlays have a vapour barrier. This essentially blocks any vapour or moisture coming up from the subfloor.
- Impact Shock Support – These underlays are heavy-duty, meaning it has excellent shock absorption. You can expect wear and tear to be much reduced compared to other underlays.
- Health Benefits – If you are concerned with health issues, especially when it comes to mould, fungi and bacteria, then Barrier underlay will help reduce the risk thanks to their vapour barriers and ability to control moisture in the home.
The Barrier series is a worthy candidate for areas above the first floor. This can be anything from your bedroom to a home office. Alternatively, it may be a good idea to use this for areas of your home with high moisture, so long as it has a wood floor.
This underlayment is crafted with dense PE foam. It has an impressive 1000-gauge damp-proof membrane which allows its superior moisture protection capacity. But this underlay also has a few other unique benefits.
- Moisture – There is no underlayment on the market that does the job of moisture protection as well as this underlayment. Whether you’re combatting humid moisture and potential spills, this underlayment will take care of your floorboards.
- Acoustic – ProTech underlay is designed to also emphasise noise reduction. It blocks up to 22dB’s of sound, making it an excellent choice for places where sound travel is a risk. It’s also good for floors above the ground floor, as they tend to have the heaviest footfalls.
- Installation Ease – The dense composition of this underlayment ensures that it will lie flat during installation. This reduces the amount of potential hiccups by reducing potential wrinkles and air pockets.
The FineFloor series consists of both TechniBoard and FibreBoard. TechniBoard is made of XPS material, being both lightweight and durable. FibreBoard is created from natural wood fibres, making it an eco-friendly material.
- Uneven Subfloor Management – Both of these underlayment options have levelling properties. This means that subfloors that have imperfections – whether this be a protrusion, debris, or even a hole – can be evened out with this underlay and be made to feel comfortable again.
- Insulation – 10 – 15% of your home’s heat escapes through the floor. But with this insulating underlay, you can keep your home from losing heat and reduce your heating bills. Over time, you will eventually make your money back, making this investment essentially free over time.
- Installation ease – Both of these series boards lie flat against the ground, ensuring that there are no air pockets or other circumstances that can create imperfections.
The QuickTherm series consists of QuickTherm and QuickTherm Vapour. It is a series with a very specific goal – underfloor heating.
- Perfect for Underfloor Heating – Both underlays have low Tog ratings. This means that whilst it is very poor for insulation, allowing heat to pass through it, it is very good for heating. Underfloor heating systems can easily transfer their heat through the floor into the room in an even spread, keeping your room warm and comfortable.
- QuickTherm Vapour – QuickTherm Vapour allows for an added vapour barrier on top of the underfloor heating. This is actually a decent idea for those who fear the possibility of moisture in the room. Since QuickTherm is mostly suitable for underfloor heating, it makes sense that you’d also want to protect said system from moisture, which will highly reduce its efficiency.
These series are some of our highest-performing underlays, and a favourite on the market for sure. They are suited for both underfloor heating and for users who wish to ensure the maximum lifespan of their flooring.
- Noise Reduction – TimerTech Elite Plus diminished walking noise by up to 32%, and cut down impact sounds by 21 decibels.
- Strength – High density ensures that this will absorb a lot of impact, ensuring your wooden floor remains stronger for longer.
- Moisture Protection – This underlay is equipped with a silver vapour barrier, offering protection against potential moisture from the subfloor.
We hope that you’ve learned something from this blog, and can now make an informed decision on the best option for underlayment.