Pre-Attached Underlayment: The Pros and Cons

Underlayment Do You Need It for Hardwood Floors

For anybody thinking of redoing their floors with laminate or vinyl plank, opting to use underlayment is a fantastic choice for a myriad of reasons. But simply deciding you want to utilize this underfloor padding isn’t the end of the decisions you need to make before laying everything down.

You also need to figure out whether you want to install underlayment separately or go for something that’s already pre-attached to your flooring option. Considering the latter but want to get all the facts before you commit? There are definitely some pros and cons attached (pun fully intended) that you should keep in mind, and we’re here to share some of the most critical.

The Pros and Advantages

Cheaper and More Affordable

As we’ve recounted recently, there are times where underlayment isn’t a complete necessity. If you find yourself in a climate with minor humidity/moisture issues, don’t particularly care about how loud footsteps may sound in your home, or don’t mind if a hard floor is a little hard on your feet, you might be able to get away without using it. Those on a tight budget might also give serious thought to skipping on the underfloor padding solution. Yet, there is another option that’s just as feasible – pre-attached underlayment. 

Unlike with the separate version, pre-attached underlayment means you don’t have to choose between using a layer of padding and saving some of your hard-earned cash. However, this also means you don’t get to be as choosy on the underlayments type and features. It is frequently far cheaper than its more traditional counterpart and is even more so when you can manage to find a good deal on it, making it ideal for those trying to achieve their dream floors despite budget constraints. Just know you might have to do a little searching around to find the flooring type and color you want that also includes underlayment. It’s rather prominent and popular these days, but it can still be mildly tricky to track down depending on your local home improvement or specialty store’s stock.

Saves Time During Installation

Renovation and res-design of any type isn’t exactly a quick fix. Pretty much everything from retiling your master bathroom shower to replacing countertops to painting takes a great deal of patience and dedication. All of it is either inherently or will likely become a long, drawn-out process. 

Meanwhile, redoing your home’s floors still often tops the list, taking a ton of time to get done right. The good news, though, is that using pre-attached underlayment can reduce this to a certain extent. Although separate underlayment doesn’t take long to install, pre-attached will save you some time. Since you don’t have to put down an entirely separate layer of padding, you can reduce the time needed to lay down your vinyl, hardwood, or laminate.

Provides Many of Regular Underlayment’s Benefits

Pre-attached underlayment is a fantastic padding option for many people and is highly recommended for all those thinking of foregoing underlayment but don’t feel entirely confident that they’ll do well without that layer between subfloor and surface floor. 

Why? Its affordability and convenience are both huge reasons. Yet those mean nothing if the pre-attached stuff doesn’t offer some of the benefits that accompany the underlayment that you’re probably more familiar with. The good news is that pre-attached does just that, offering some extent of the additional underfoot comfort, moisture protection, structural support, and more that ensures our floors work for our lives/circumstances a little better than they otherwise might.

The Cons and Disadvantages

Sound Dampening Is Less Effective

Several factors encourage one to install underlayment beneath their surface floors, but one of the most frequently cited is sound dampening. After all, our homes are the center of our lives, and that’s truer now than ever before. It only makes sense that we’d want all the foot traffic accompanying that to be a touch quieter. If you opt for pre-attached underlayment, though, you might be somewhat disappointed by the results you receive. 

Don’t be confused – pre-attached will dull some of the noise of feet shuffling around and paws tip-tapping about. It’s just (typically) less than you’d come to expect from traditional separate underlayment because the padding tends to be on the thinner side. This might not be a massive con for everyone, but if you have a particularly active family or have chosen a flooring that’s very creaky or thumpy, you might want to think twice.

May Offer Decreased Durability 

Not to repeat ourselves; however, the underlayment that’s already attached to your floor of choice isn’t exactly of the same stock. Both offer benefits that you cannot receive from surface flooring alone, but standard underlayment that you install separately is often thicker, tougher, and more customizable. You have options you can pick from – including several thicknesses and materials that you can pursue and choose to suit your home’s individual needs. Pre-attached doesn’t usually come with these perks. 

What you get is what you get with pre-attached, and that frequently amounts to an underlayment that’s too thin and too soft. You can then run into durability issues, with it breaking down relatively fast. This will necessitate a higher replacement rate, always be picky with pre-attached underlayment when on a budget. You might lose even more cash than you save off of it, so only pick an option that’s up to higher standards.  

More Vulnerable to Moisture Issues

Pre-attached underlayment’s pros of affordability and practicality can be rather convincing for those of us who neither want to shell out tons of time or cash for a flooring feature no one besides us will see or even notice. Although, several considerations need to be made before you press that order button or jump in the car wallet in hand. 

Perhaps most importantly should be whether your home is prone to dampness and humidity. Any homes that are should immediately hop on the separate underlayment bandwagon thanks to its moisture protection. If you have concrete subfloors or are in an especially wet climate, the kind that comes pre-attached most likely will not provide enough of a barrier to protect your floors.

Ways to Keep Benefits

If you have pre-attached underlayment already picked out, don’t worry. We kept these issues with pre-attached underlayment in mind while developing our QuietWalk line of underlayments. QuietWalk works great with both pre-attached and non-attached flooring!

  • QuietWalk Underlayment will pick up the slack for sound control with an IIC of 71 and STC of 66.
  • QuietWalk’s compression resistance exceeds the requirement for pre-attached flooring greater than 29 psi @50% per ASTM D1667. The high compression resistance assures that the underlayment will not contribute to floor decoupling.
  • Moisture is taken care of by QuietWalk’s attached vapor barrier. 
QuietWalk with pre-attached pad
QuietWalk Underlayment with pre-attached pad

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