What is Underlayment

What is Underlayment

Underlayment is basically a thin layer of material that is sandwiched between other materials. The underlayment is used in two different industries, roofing and flooring. Both industries have different benefits and in this article we explain why it’s important for the flooring industry and what purpose it provides to flooring consumers.

Flooring Structure Explained

Your flooring plays a vital role of supporting various furniture in your home. Besides from the beautiful floor, other materials such as subfloor, joist and underlayment hold everything in place.

Flooring Joist

The floor joist is the foundation to your flooring. A horizontal structural member used in framing to span an open space, often between beams that subsequently transfer loads to vertical members. When incorporated into a floor framing system, joists serve to provide stiffness to the subfloor sheathing, allowing it to function as a horizontal diaphragm.


The subfloor is the foundation beneath your finish flooring materials. Providing a continuous structural surface over the floor joist. Subfloors can consist of wood plank, plywood, OSB (Oriented Strandboard) and concrete. Concrete is in most basements as no floor joist is present. Concrete basement floors are also susceptible to moisture as moisture can wick up through the concrete.

Flooring Underlayment

Underlay or flooring underlayment is a thin layer of material such as fiber, felt, rubber or foam. The thin layer of material helps cushion, sound absorption, insulation and reduce wear with your flooring. For laminate or engineered wood flooring, it provides a “vapor barrier” to prevent moisture from coming through and damaging your floor. It can also help dampen noise as HOA or condo associations usually refer to sound rating test.

Floor Coverings

This is the surface that a person see’s and walks on. Many different types of floor coverings are available such as laminate, floating engineered, hardwood, ceramic tile, carpet or vinyl.

Floor Underlayment Main Purpose

Sound Reduction or Dampens Noise

Underlayment allows to block sound from transferring from room to room. An underlayment built with recycled fibers absorbs sound and keeps it from traveling to other rooms. Makes click-together floating floors sound solid underfoot.

Moisture Protection – Blocking Harmful Damage To Your Floor

Certain underlayment come with built-in vapor barrier that blocks moisture from getting to your floor. Concrete subfloors is notorious for emitting moisture and causing flooring to be in contact with water and chemicals from concrete.

Compression Resistance

Consistent traffic can lead to dented areas of your flooring. Dense recycled fiber underlayment supports the click-together mechanism and upholds supportive configuration under consistent traffic of overlying floor.

Smooths Subfloor Imperfections

All subfloors are not consistent in levelness. However, underlayment can form to a certain degree around subfloor surface roughness, helps to cut down on extra subfloor surface prepping time.

Insulating Value

Providing additional comfort to the entire home during seasonal temperature changes.

Approved for In-Floor Heating Systems

Allows heat to permeate evenly while helping to protect the floor covering material from thermal shock.

Certified Clean and Safe Indoor Air Quality

Flooring underlayment should not be smelly or give off any weird smells. Always look for some certification for indoor air quality testing done. This protects your family from getting unwanted headaches or sickness.

Competitively Priced

An underlayment shouldn’t break the bank but protect you from moisture and reduce noise.

Underlayment Considerations

It is always best to review your flooring installation instructions to follow what they recommend for underlayment. Some flooring manufacturers don’t call for such material and some do. If you are looking to help reduce noise, consider an underlayment that does sound absorption with moisture protection/management.

Our QuietWalk flooring underlayment is considered by most flooring installers and contractors as the industry standard. QuietWalk offers the main benefits mentioned above to the consumer. If you are a homeowner and still not sure what underlayment to choose for your flooring, give us a call at (402) 379-9695.

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