Floor lamination is a common trend today. However, laminate can make your floor feel colder during cold weather, and this is even more likely if you have it installed on a cold subfloor. Concrete is an excellent example of a cold subfloor and is expected to damage from moisture.
An enhanced visual appeal is one of the top reasons people install laminate floors in their home; for others, it’s simply a more durable flooring option. Overall, good laminate flooring should provide comfort and insulation to your floors.
More importantly, you can’t install a laminate floor without an underlay. Hence, it’s crucial you get the right type for your laminate flooring. Namely, an underlay serves to protect the laminate flooring from damage.
The underlay is usually a thin, padded material placed under the laminate flooring. It should have a built-in vapor barrier to repel moisture and protect your flooring. In this guide, we examine the various types of underlay laminate that will help improve the insulation of your laminate flooring.
The Top 3 Best Thermal Insulation Under Laminate Flooring
1. The Best Underlayment For Laminate Flooring in 2023 — Roberts First Step™ Premium 3-in-1 Underlayment
This is a high-quality underlay that works perfectly on laminate flooring. It provides comfort, warmth, and protection. Remarkably, the Roberts underlay corrects imperfections on your laminate with its Styrofoam bead layer.
2. The Best Laminate Underlayment For Insulation — Floorlot®: GoldMax™ Premium Laminate & Wood Flooring Underlayment with Vapor Barrier
This 3 mm combination underlayment comes with a vapor barrier to protect against moisture. It provides the much-needed protection for your floors in addition to perfect thermal insulation. Offering coverage of 200 sq ft per roll, you can get it for less than $100.
3. The Best Laminate Underlayment For Concrete — QEP Natural Cork Underlayment
The QEP cork underlay is the perfect noise absorber. This underlayment has an impressive STC rating of up to 60 and an IIC rating of up to 61. It’s an efficient insulator that’s sure to provide adequate support for your laminate flooring.
Notably, it’s also perfect for concrete, wood, and tile floorings. Its hypoallergenic cork gives it antimicrobial features, and it can correct any imperfections on your laminate flooring.
Thermal Insulation for Laminate Flooring: A Brief Summary
Did you know that 10–25% of heat loss in homes comes from the ground floor? That’s not all; a report from the University of Sheffield claims that ground floor insulation can slash heat loss by a whopping 92%. These revelations underscore the importance of floor insulation.
A recent report by Energy Saving Trust highlights the benefits of insulating ground floors to include the minimization of draughts. Other rooms above may not need insulation if the ground floor is already insulated.
When considering insulation, the first thing you need to consider is the type of floors. If you live in older houses that usually have suspended floors, you may lose heat on your flooring.
There are various ways to go about floor insulation. One is by installing a draught-proof sealant between your floorboards, skirting boards, and floor. A rug can also do the job, but it doesn’t always guarantee the best results; it may only inhibit some of the draughts to keep your feet warm.
Alternatively, you can opt for underfloor insulation to provide the needed thermal insulation. It’s much easier, and you can do this with your laminate flooring.
5 Best Thermal Insulation Under Laminate Flooring: Detailed Reviews
Many underlays are sold today, but not all are of top-notch quality. Considering this truth, we decided to conduct a market survey and carefully select the five best underlayments sold today. Our reviews are based on the effectiveness of the material to insulate your home and provide adequate protection for your floors.
Here are our comprehensive reviews of the best underlays for your laminate flooring:
1. Roberts First Step™ Premium 3-in-1 Underlayment: The Best Underlayment for Laminate Flooring in 2023
- Use: Laminate and wood flooring
- Compatible R-Value: 39
- STC Rating: 67
- IIC Rating: 68
- ∆ Delta Rating: 20
- Benefits: Prevents moisture, antimicrobial benefits, sound absorption, and insulation
- Additional Features: Vapor barrier
- Coverage: 100 and 630 sq ft/roll options
The Roberts underlay is among the best brands in the market today. It’s built with a styrofoam bead layer that helps protect your laminate flooring from mold growth. In addition, the thick material has a cushioning effect and corrects any subfloor errors.
The Roberts First Step underlayment also has a vapor barrier that keeps moisture from your laminate flooring. It’s pretty easy to install and is sure to shield noise off your floors. Interestingly, just a roll of this underlay is enough to cover a 630 square feet area.
The product is made of durable material and one that will be effective during cold weather. Finally, this underlay works perfectly for concrete subfloors and wood.
2. Floorlot®: GoldMax™ Premium Laminate & Wood Flooring Underlayment with Vapor Barrier: The Best Laminate Underlayment for Insulation
- Use: Laminate flooring
- IIC Rating: 72dB
- Benefits: Thermal insulation, high-performance acoustic underlay, moisture protection
- Additional Features: Vapor barrier, tape, and overlap system
- Coverage: 200 sq ft/roll
This cushioned 3mm underlay will provide thermal insulation on your floors so you can comfortably walk on them. It’s a good quality underlayment that will smooth out any irregularities in your laminate flooring.
The design is built in three layers to ensure you obtain the best of comfort, noiseless flooring, and moisture protection. This Floorlot®’s underlay offers a thick material with a good insulation barrier.
You can comfortably walk on your floors during winter without worrying about the cold. The underlayment also comes attached to a vapor barrier protecting your laminate flooring from moisture.
Its peel and stick adhesive make it very easy to install. Additionally, you can have a roll cover up to 200 sq ft. One of the perks of getting this underlay is its affordability. Even at its price, it offers quite the complete package that guarantees protection, insulation, and soundproofing.
3. QEP Natural Cork Underlayment: The Best Laminate Underlayment for Concrete
- Use: Laminate flooring, marble, stone, porcelain and ceramic tile, and engineered wood floors.
- STC Rating: Up to 60
- IIC Rating: Up to 61
- ∆ Delta Rating: 22
- Benefits: Thermal insulation, sound absorption, and protection from cracks.
- Additional Features: 6 mm thickness, cork
- Coverage: 100 and 200 sq ft/roll options
This underlay is designed as a combination underlayment with a cork. Its natural hypoallergenic cork helps protect your floors against mold and mildew. The underlay is also a perfect noise absorber and will allow you to walk over your floors quietly.
The QEP cork underlayment has a cushioning effect that makes the floor feel softer and quieter. Its protection also extends to the subfloor as it safeguards it from the stress that can cause cracks. To cap it all, you can easily install this underlay in your home.
This cork underlayment is also perfect for radiant heat systems as it can help reduce thermal transmission. Namely, the underlay has enough thickness that allows it to smooth out any imperfections on your laminate flooring.
4. Roberts Super Felt® Underlayment
- Use: Laminate flooring and engineered wood
- Compatible R-Value: 59
- STC Rating: 66
- IIC Rating: 67
- ∆ Delta Rating: 21
- Benefits: Sound absorption, moisture protection, and thermal insulation.
- Additional Features: 3mm thickness, 3-inch overlap, overlap film, and adhesive strip to link more rolls.
- Coverage: 100 and 360 sq ft/roll options
The Roberts Super Felt® Underlayment is compatible with concrete and wood subfloors. It has a cushioning effect on your surfaces to correct any imperfections on your laminate flooring. The 3mm underlay is an excellent insulator and one you’ll appreciate during winter.
It has a high STC and IIC rating, which means you get to enjoy a tranquil environment. The underlayment absorbs any sound even while you move your furniture. This makes it one of the best laminate underlayments for sound absorption.
This outstanding underlayment for laminate flooring and engineered wooden floors is premium quality and will protect your floor from moisture. The Roberts felt underlay is designed to work with radiant heat floors having an R-value of up to 0.59.
With just a roll of this underlay, you can cover up to 360 sq ft. You also have the option of using this underlayment on multiple floors in your home on different flooring options. Finally, you get optimal value for your money as this product comes with an adhesive strip and an overlapping film to enable you to join multiple rolls.
5. QuietWalk Acoustical Floating Flooring Underlayment
- Use: Laminate flooring, vinyl, and hardwood floors
- STC Rating: Up to 66
- IIC Rating: Up to 71
- Benefits: Sound reduction, moisture protection, and thermal insulation
- Additional Features: Recycled fibers, compression resistant, click-together system, vapor barrier
- Coverage: 100 and 360 sq ft/roll options
This QuietWalk underlay is a desirable product almost everyone will want in their homes, especially during winter. The underlayment, which is compression resistant, provides enough support for your laminate flooring.
Its recycled fibers are denser than foam and provide warmth during cold weather. This underlay helps keep your home quiet as it reduces the sound coming from your floors.
It offers moisture protection which makes it suitable for concrete subfloors. The QuietWalk underlay also comes with a built-in vapor barrier that protects your floors from mildew and mold. Similarly, its DriWick™ technology ensures all detrimental moisture is wicked away, preventing vapor accumulation and resultant conversion to harmful moisture.
This underlayment is also compatible with radiant heating systems, ensuring adequate insulation of your floors. Installing this underlay is easy, and you can do it by simply rolling out and joining the seam. Last but not least, its 5mm thickness is perfect for laminate flooring and vinyl floors.
How to Choose the Best Underlayment For Laminate Flooring: Buyer’s Guide
All laminate underlayments don’t work the same way — some manufacturers make theirs for different purposes. This means you have to determine which one best suits your needs. However, how do you make your choice when you have hundreds of options before you? Here are the top six factors to bear in mind when selecting your underlay laminate flooring.
One of the things customers struggle with is thickness, especially when choosing underlays. A very thick underpayment will only be beneficial when installing carpets or when you’re trying to smoothen a floor surface.
That said, the extra padding used for laminate flooring or even vinyl may not be compatible with thick underlayments. Instead, it’ll cause the locking mechanism to break. Your best option is to go for a laminate underpayment between 2 mm and 3 mm thick.
Another thing to note is that some laminates do come with an underlayment. If this is the case, you don’t need to purchase an additional one. The only thing you may need to get is a vapor barrier, and that’s if you’re installing the laminate over a concrete subfloor.
You also need to consider the thermal ratings of the underlayment. Usually, it’s measured with an R-value, which implies how well an underlay insulates your laminate flooring, otherwise known as thermal resistance.
The higher the R-value, the lesser the heat moving through the underlay. However, an ideal R-value for a laminate floor underlayment is 0.3.
For those that inhabit a colder area that needs more floor heating, your best bet is to go for underlays with a high R-value to provide warmth on your floor during winter. If you invest in an underlay with a good R-value, it can also keep hot air out during hot weather.
If you’re installing your laminate flooring over a concrete subfloor, you’ll need an underlay due to the concrete’s porous nature. Notably, concrete is likely to hold moisture compared to other subfloors. You’ll also need a vapor barrier to protect the laminate from any moisture coming from the concrete surface.
Conversely, if the subfloor is made from plywood, there most likely won’t be any moisture problem. Rather, you should be more concerned about finding an underlay that can improve the thermal insulation and absorb sound.
It’s always comfortable walking on a floor surface that eliminates any squeaking noise, especially when the laminate flooring flexes against the subfloor. If there’s no underlay, the noise can be a significant problem since sound is being transferred to the subfloor.
What your underlayment does is to act as a buffer by absorbing the sound coming from the upper flooring and lower flooring. That way, you don’t have to deal with disturbing noise associated with laminate floors.
It’s important you consider how this sound affects not just yourself but also your neighbors, especially if you live in an apartment or a condo. Underlays for laminate flooring can have any of these two sound absorption ratings:
- Sound Transmission Class (STC)
- Impact Insulation Class (IIC)
The STC rating implies how well an underlayment blocks sounds that are airborne. On the other hand, the IIC rating indicates the efficiency with which an underlayment blocks sounds coming from footsteps, furniture movement, and objects dropping on your floor.
The STC and IIC both have ratings between 15 to 80. However, a good rating should be from 60 and above.
It’s crucial you look into your budget when looking for the best underlayment for laminate flooring. You’ll get most floor underlays sold in rolls or square feet.
In terms of cost, the rolls are the better option, but buying in square feet will save you from waste. On the other hand, square feet measured underlayments allow you to buy just the quantity you need despite being pricier than buying in rolls.
Another factor influencing your price options is the brand and additional features that the underlay offers. However, you will likely get a good quality underlayment for your laminate flooring at $0.15 per square foot.
You may also want to consider getting material that comes with antimicrobials as a perk. This can be a material like a cork, and one of the benefits is that you can install your laminate flooring in a healthy way. An underlay with antimicrobial features is ideal not just for your floor but also for environmental protection.
Different Types of Laminate Underlayment
Before you decide to get the best underlayment for laminate flooring, it’s crucial to identify the many types sold today. This will enable you to sort through the many available today, giving you an idea of what to get for your home. Here are the types of laminate underlays you should know:
The foam underlays come in a thin layer of foam material, usually about 0.125 inches thick. It’s very affordable and the easiest to install compared to other underlayments.
Foam underlays give a cushioning effect, especially for hardwood, vinyl, and laminate flooring options. However, using the standard foam underlay won’t provide that vapor barrier to protect from moisture.
Some manufacturers do make their foam underlays with an attached vapor barrier. While this may increase cost, it does solve the problem of accumulated moisture on the concrete subfloor.
This underlay option is made from recycled fiber and has a denser feel than foam underlays. Also, it absorbs sound better, and the felt underlayments provide good thermal insulation for laminate floors.
Another benefit of getting this type of underlay is that most brands come with a built-in moisture barrier. This helps shield your laminate flooring from moisture damage.
Rubber underlays are easy to use and very efficient. In fact, they’re considered the best padding options for laminate flooring.
The rubber underlayments can absorb noise and also insulate your floor. Namely, the rubber acts as a buffer to absorb the sound between your subfloor and laminate flooring. It’ll also protect your floor from damage against mold and mildew.
This underlay is used mostly under wood. Some models come as a blend of rubber and cork underlays. This type of underlayment prevents cracks in tiles.
The cork underlays work best for sound absorption. The material is dense and bounces enough to handle any pressure. Moreover, it won’t lose its form even if heavy weight is placed on it.
The cork underlays also have good insulation properties and are natural antimicrobials. It’ll protect your laminate flooring from moisture, insulate your floor and also absorb sounds.
While these perks may sound enticing, cork underlays do have one problem. Notably, they’re not entirely comfortable to walk on despite yielding the best results for laminate flooring. Also, they’re the most expensive option and most times will increase your installation costs by up to 50%.
Best Thermal Insulation Under Laminate Flooring: FAQs
What is the best R-value for laminate underlayment?
The R-value is a thermal insulation metric and is one of the top factors to look out for when choosing an underlay for laminate flooring. Generally, a higher R-value implies more efficient thermal insulation. However, the typical R-value for laminate floor underlayments is 0.3.
How does thermal insulation work?
To understand how thermal insulation works, it’s essential you know what it means. Generally, insulation is any material that reduces heat flow and noise.
Many components have insulation properties. Underlayments are one of them and can help with heat and noise control.
The purpose of thermal insulation is to keep your laminate flooring warm. To achieve this, one side needs to be warmer than the other, which is what a good underlayment offers.
What’s the best laminate underlayment for insulation?
This depends on what you need an underlayment for as well as personal preference. However, we consider the best as one that encompasses all of the benefits with little or no complaints at all.
Namely, it should have good noise absorption, moisture protection, and thermal insulation. The most important thing is that your underlay should be comfortable to walk over and provide enough warmth during winter.
What’s the difference between flooring insulation and underlayment?
The underlay is usually installed under the top layer of your laminate flooring. It’s placed on top of the subfloor but under the laminate flooring. Underlayments are not only used to insulate but also have other benefits such as sound inhibition and antimicrobial properties.
On the other hand, floor insulation goes under the subfloor when constructing the house. They primarily function to prevent heat loss from the floors, eliminate draughts, and offer a vapor barrier that keeps out moisture.
Should I insulate my floor?
The choice of insulating a home is a decision that rests on the homeowner’s shoulders. At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preferences. Generally, it’s recommended to use underlayments under your flooring because of its many benefits.
Underlays will not only insulate your floors but also make them comfortable to walk on. If you’re considering installing laminate flooring on concrete or other subfloors, you’ll need an excellent underlay to go with it. We suggest you have a professional handle the installation of your underlays for the best results.
Now that you know the best laminate underlayment, it won’t be challenging to decide on your purchase. Even though floor insulation can make a difference in your home, you’ll benefit more from using underlayments. Notably, they regulate your room temperature during winter, keep your floors warm, and some also offer soundproofing features and antimicrobial properties.
We hope our comprehensive reviews help you overcome potential obstacles that may hinder your purchasing journey. We also hope that our detailed buyer’s guide provides all the essential information you need to be aware of before scouting the market for the best thermal insulation under laminate flooring for your home.