Top 7 Items To Look For In Flooring Underlayment

Top 7 Things to look for in flooring underlayment

Buying your ideal flooring can be an exciting experience. With pricing of $2 – $8 per sq ft, you want to make sure you install your flooring the correct way. Maybe you heard of horror stories of people installing laminate flooring and hear cracking sounds when walked on. What lies underneath the flooring can determine how the flooring will react and sound in your home.

The following 7 items should be considered in an underlayment when you are installing your new flooring.

1. Compression – Provides Support and Impact Resistance

Underlayment compression is a key factor as heavy traffic areas can cause enough weight to “compress” your underlayment over time. So support can be temporary. So how do underlayments past testing for compression? By compression set testing.

Compression set testing is used to determine the ability of elastomeric materials to maintain elastic properties after prolonged compressive stress. The test measures the somewhat permanent deformation of the specimen after it has been exposed to compressive stress for a set time period.

The underlayment height is measured before the test. A clamp is held down for 12 hours on the underlayment and released. After waiting for another 22 hours, the measured height of the underlayment is taken.

Compression Set Test Results

  1. Fiber/Felt Underlayment – QuietWalk rebounded 78% of its height
  2. Foam Underlayment – 59% rebounded
  3. Fanfold Underlayment – No Rebound At All

During installation, knee pads or work shoes sometimes crush the underlayment and not rebound back. Making a drum sound when walking on the floor after installation.

Depending on the material the underlayment determines how much support is given.

Foam Underlayment
Consist of trapped air. If you can squeeze the underlayment and hear popping noise, then air is being released. Sometimes, you can hear the pop due to high traffic or appliances being rolled over the flooring. Once the air is crushed, it is gone.

Fiber Underlayment
Consist of recycled material, the underlayment is densier in material. No trapped air that won’t be released. Fiber/felt underlayment offers superior compression and sound absorption.

2. Moisture Protection

One of the other main benefits of using underlayment is moisture protection. Keeping your flooring from getting wet and stop from warping. Some underlayment consist of a vapor barrier built in.

Most products have the moisture vapor barrier facing down. This essentially allows the pooling/vapors to be trapped below the vapor. With our underlayment – our vapor barrier is facing up, and installing the fiber ½” to 1” from the wall. This creates a gutter system to allow the moisture to evaporate around the perimeter of the room.

So when a pipe leaks such as a washing machine, fibers will pull moisture in and away from the floor. This allows the floor to manage the moisture instead of blocking the water. This distributes the water out evenly.

3. Sound Absorption – Buffers Ambient and Impact Sound

Our fibers are laid out a certain way to simulate small air gaps without limiting compression capabilities. Also the various amounts of recycled materials used provides inherited properties of sound absorption.

Sound Testing Assembly

The ratings you see from flooring underlayment manufacturers are based off of assembly testing. This means that some floor to ceiling test consist of open web truss floor to 6” concrete slab.

You can get your rating number by first knowing what your assembly is. If you know your assembly or close to it, you can find sound rating test matched with the underlayment you are choosing. Sometimes, you will not find the rating for your assembly due to various assembly types built. Each test cost thousands of dollars and getting each assembly would not make sense due to every variance of assembly.

4. Indoor Air Quality

Over 94% of recycled material is used in our fiber/felt underlayment. We are also SCS certified and Indoor Advantage Gold as a contributor to healthy indoor air quality. The highest award a company can get. No off gassing, no voc, no allergens which clears the way to be used in schools, governments and hospitals.

5. Ease of Installation

One of the main factors to consider is the ease of installation. Can you roll out the underlayment very easily? Or is it rolled backwards and consist of you unrolling the roll manually across the floor? With our fiber underlayments, we engineered the roll to be rolled across making it a time saving activity for flooring installers.

6. Insulation Value – Thermal Properties

Our recycled materials come from used garments which have some insulation ratings. Mixed with various materials, we can achieve higher thermal ratings compared to one material such as foam.

7. Smooths out minor subfloor imperfections

Roughly 1/8th inch thickness and the density of the fibers are perfect to absorb small pebbles that protrude from slightly rough concrete finish or slight variance of OSB or plywood joints. Provides nice smooth installation.

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