Installing underlayment is necessary when it comes to laminate & vinyl plank flooring. When choosing underlayment, you should have felt confused seeing hundreds of choices.
To make your job easy and smooth, we have researched and analyzed hundreds of underlay and handpicked top 15 best underlayments for laminate, vinyl plank, hardwood, and others.
What is Underlayment?
Underlay or underlayment is a thick layer of materials used under the visible layer of the floor to stabilize, absorb sound or heat, and many other purposes.
These are typically soft rubber, foam or cork sheets specially curated for using under the floor to make the top layer of the floor smooth and even for the human traffic.
Best Underlayment for Laminate Flooring to Reduce Noise
1. First Step 630-Square Foot Roll Underlayment
An affordable, yet high-quality underlayment made for durability! This underlayment is specially made for laminate flooring.
It is made with Styrofoam beads to ensure air circulation under the flooring and the antimicrobial protection ensures mold prevention. As it comes with a high-quality moisture barrier, it is the best underlayment for laminate flooring on concrete.
This 3-millimeter thick laminate underlayment ensures less noise while correcting minor subfloor imperfections.
The STC and IIC value of this product is 67 and 68 respectively which assures you about sound reduction quite a lot.
Relying on the .40 R-Value of this product, you can use this on flooring for even heat distribution throughout the room. It will make your room comfortable by protecting heat from transferring through the flooring.
This USA made product has adhesive strips attached to the edge for easy application.
Apart from using on laminate flooring, anyone can use this with engineered hardwood flooring too.
2. FLOORLOT Gold 200sqft Laminate Flooring Vapor Barrier Silent Underlayment
FLoorLot is a marvelous brand when it comes to underlayment products. They produce high quality, durable, and easy to install products in the cheapest possible price range!
The model we are reviewing here comes with a built-in moisture barrier allowing you to use this on laminate, hardwood, or engineered wood floors.
Its thermal insulation ensures comfortable human traffic on the floor and IIC 72 dB rating gives you the assurance about noise reduction.
This 3-millimeter thick product is one of the best underlay for laminate flooring for its easy to install feature. It comes with grid lines and adhesive tape for easy installation without taking the help of other tools.
3. 3in1 Vapor Barrier Flooring Underlayment w/Overlap and pre-Attached Tape Strip
3 in 1 Vapor Barrier underlayment is the cheapest underlay for laminate flooring while providing you the best value for money.
For its high-quality vapor barrier technology, you can use this to protect moisture from coming through the laminate flooring. That’s why we recommend this as one of the best underlay for laminate flooring on concrete and wood.
This 2-millimeter thick underlayment is great for using with thin laminate planks and can protect heat from transferring through it.
Although it does not come with any IIC or STC valuation, it can reduce quite a lot of sound, thanks to its low-density polyethylene material.
Best Underlayment for Vinyl Plank Flooring
1. QuietWalk Underlayment for Vinyl Plank & Laminate Flooring
As the product name suggests, you can walk quietly when this vinyl plank underlayment is installed. This underlayment from MP Global Products is our pick for the best underlayment for vinyl plank flooring because of its versatility, ease of use, and moisture protection.
You can use this versatile underlayment on concrete or wooden subfloor for applying vinyl plank or laminate flooring on top of it.
It comes with high-quality noise reduction technology, Thanks to the recycled fiber by which this product is made of! You will significant improvement in noise reduction after installing this on your subfloor.
While cheap underlayment is not so easy to install, this is one of the easiest to install products we have seen when researching.
The antimicrobial technology is included in this for high-quality mold protection while protecting the moisture.
For its top-quality build material and manufacturing process, this distributes heat evenly throughout the room for a comfortable living.
2. FLOORLOT Vinyl & Laminate Flooring Vapor Barrier Underlayment
If you are looking for a perfect value for money product, this one from FloorLot is the best bet for you.
It comes with an inbuilt vapor barrier that protects molds from growing under the flooring material. For high-quality moisture protection, you can use this on wood and concrete subfloor without hesitation.
This underlayment is a versatile product allowing you to put laminate, vinyl plank, hardwood, and bamboo flooring on top of this.
With is 3-millimeter thickness, it absorbs sound making your room more comfortable to live in.
This vinyl plank underlayment comes with adhesive tape. Therefore, you can install this underlayment by peeling and sticking it on the surface pretty easily.
3. 2in1 Silent Vapor Barrier Underlayment for Vinyl Plank Flooring
If you are looking for the cheapest underlayment for your vinyl plank flooring, this is the product we recommend for you.
The 1.5-millimeter thick vinyl plank underlayment is made of low-density polyethylene that has a built-in moisture barrier to protect mold growth.
This comes with STC 65 and IIC 70 dB rating that hints about the sound-absorbing capability of this underlay.
However, the manufacturer has compromised quite significant things in this product. It does not come with built-in adhesive tape that makes it harder to install than the other contenders of its category.
On top of that, heat can easily transfer through this underlayment as it is rated at .15 R-value. Easy heat transfer through the underlayment can cause your room to become too cold in the winter.
Best Underlayment for Hardwood Floors
1. FloorMuffler UltraSeal Underlayment (100 sq. ft Roll)
If you are looking for a product that is high quality, easy to use, and durable, this UltraSeal underlayment from FloorMuffler is our recommendation for you.
It comes with IIC rating 74 and STC rating 73 that gives you an idea about the quality of the sound reduction mechanism. It reduces sound quite a lot making your room quiet and comfortable.
This commercial-grade underlayment is a great product for the places with high human traffic movement. Therefore, it will not shrink or dented like other cheap underlays, thanks to its high-quality build.
This is made considering both residential and commercial floorings in mind, so you can effectively use this in any type of place without thinking much.
It gives you great moisture protection which prevents mold and mildew from growing.
A great product can become less popular just because of a complicated installation process. This is why FloorMuffler made this product that can be installed fast and easily without getting any help from professionals. Win-win situation.
For its mind-blowing features and high-quality build, This FloorMuffler UltraSeal model is our best underlayment for hardwood floors without any doubt.
Apart from using for hardwood floors, you can use this for laminate flooring too. It will serve great in both circumstances.
2. Roberts 70-193A Super 360 sq 60 in. x 72 ft. x 3 mm
A high-quality underlay that makes your home comfortable. This hardwood underlay can give cushioning on concrete and wood subfloors while keeping the floor warm in winter and cool in the summer.
Its 3-millimeter thickness ensures that it absorbs the noise rather than reflecting it which made it one of the best underlay for sound reduction. It comes with Impact Sound Transmission Test (IIC) 67 rating and Sound Transmission Loss Test (STC) 66 rating. So, you can rest assured that it is a standard underlayment with good quality sound absorption.
The product comes with a built-in moisture barrier to protect moisture from coming through the flooring. So, you do not need to worry about mold growth under the flooring.
It is made with adhesive strips and a 3-inch overlap to ensure easy linkage and proper installation.
3. AMERIQUE 691322303964 Premium 3-In-1 Heavy Duty Foam 3MM Thick Flooring Underlayment
AMERIQUE is a top brand when we talk about underlayment. This model from AMERIQUE is made with high-quality sound absorption technology that reduces noise without reflecting it.
The moisture barrier that comes with this underlay is another talk of the town. This protects moisture from coming to the top to prevent mold from growing. So, it ensures a healthy living environment in your home.
This is a durable underlayment for hardwood floors that can be laid on different types of subfloors.
The 3 mm thickness ensures enough cushioning under the flooring while ensuring other key features. It is easy to install, thanks to the adhesive tape that comes pre-attached with the underlay.
For its simple build and cheap price point, this is our pick for the best underlayment for hardwood floors in the ‘Affordability’ category.
Best Underlayment for Tile
1. Schluter-Ditra XL 5/16" Underlayment 175sqft Roll
Looking for a product that can protect your tile from breaking or cracking over time? This underlay for tile flooring from Schluter is the best bet for you.
It comes with a grid structure that ensures high-quality binding with the tile making the tile floor durable. Because of its even load distribution throughout the surface, it ensures more durable tile flooring than ordinary underlayment.
The uncoupling technique is a great inclusion in this underlayment for allowing just enough room to move when pressurized. This slight movement under the tile allows it to absorb pressure more without cracking or breaking. However, you can’t use this underlayment on a surface where the surface is not steady.
The waterproof underlayment protects vapor from passing through making the flooring mold and mildew free.
For its high-quality build and ease of use, we have included this as our pick for the best underlayment for tile flooring.
2. QEP 72000Q 1/4 Inch Cork Underlayment for Ceramic and Porcelain Tile
Cork underlayment that is effective under most of the flooring materials. So, whether you are looking for underlayment for tile floor, marble, stone, wood, or laminate, this QEP cork underlayment covers you!
This underlayment reduces noise transmission making your room comfortable to live in.
While increasing the efficiency of the floor heating system, this underlayment for tile protects the flooring from cracking.
Because of its high-quality build material, you can rely on this product to serve you for years to come.
On top of that, this product is easy to install. You can easily install this without any help from professionals.
3. Schluter Ditra 1/8" Underlayment 54sqft
This is one of the best underlayment for tile from the Schluter Systems. It is a polyethylene made product having enough structural strength and flexibility to hold and protect tile flooring on top of it.
This ensures crack-free tile flooring with its high-quality grid cavities that allow the load to distribute evenly throughout the underlayment reducing the pressure from the tile.
It is equipped with high-quality vapor barrier technology that is waterproof. So, you do not need to worry about using the tile floor on surfaces prone to moisture. With its moisture protection, it protects the flooring from mold and mildew growth resultantly making the flooring more durable.
Because of the polyethylene material, it reduces the sound transmission a bit. But not like other sound-absorbing products we have reviewed in the guide.
Best Underlayment for Metal Roof
1. Tyvek Protec 160 Roof Underlayment
An underlayment product that can be used with any type of roof materials. Yes, we are talking Tyvek Protec 160 that can effectively work under metal, tile, slate, asphalt shingles, and so on!
Whether you are making your new home or getting it repaired, this all-purpose underlayment covers you. It allows you to use this for new construction, repair, or re-roofing.
This product works as a high-quality moisture barrier protecting your home from getting too much humid in monsoon.
For its high-quality build, it can be exposed to UV for a period of 6 months. So, you can apply this on the roofing without thinking about reducing its lifespan by UV rays. It will remain intact as long as you apply the top roofing material within six months.
This underlayment is easy to install and made with better gripping patterns so that you can easily walk on it without slipping. Therefore, it gets the top position for the best underlayment for metal roof.
2. ArmorLay 25 Synthetic Roof Underlayment
If you are looking for the best underlayment for metal roof, we recommend this at #2 for its ease of use, high-quality material, and slip-resistant technology.
This roof underlayment can withstand 60 days of UV exposure giving you enough working time on the roof.
As it is equipped with slip-resistant polymer, it will not slip from the roof allowing you to stick it on the roof without worrying about slipping.
It is water-resistant thus can give your home another layer of protection against leaky roofing.
For its high-quality build, it does not buckle or warp when installed. So, you can rest assured that it won’t cause a problem after it is properly installed on the roof.
3. DuPont Roof Protector Underlayment Roll - 42" x 286'
A great underlayment for metal and asphalt shingles roofing that is made for durability. This DuPont Roof protecting underlayment provides a great grip to the surface for the anti-slip mechanism. So, you can use apply this on the roof without worrying about slipping from the slope.
This is made to withstand 90 days of UV exposure, so you get enough time to cover it up with the actual roof material.
It is lightweight and thus you can handle this easily. On top of that, this product is easy to install. So, it requires less when it comes to installation costs.
Although it provides great value for money in the roof underlayment category, it does have some drawbacks. This underlayment is not waterproof thus it is risky to use in monsoon.
How To Choose The Best Underlayment For Laminate & Vinyl Plank Flooring
Buying decisions are made by asking some key questions relating to the product. These questions differ according to the product type but you’ll find similarity in most of them.
When you are choosing the best underlayment for concrete floor or any other underlayment, it is necessary to look into the details of the product.
For making your decision easier to take, we are sharing with you the method we have followed for picking up the best underlay for laminate, vinyl plank, or hardwood floorings.
1. The objective of the Underlayment
The first question to ask- why do you need the underlayment? Answering this question will solve a lot of your problems without even knowing them they existed. For example, if you want a durable flooring, that requires perfect pressure distribution, high-quality build material, moisture protection, etc. So, determine your objective of purchase before going into the next step.
Read Also: Best Roof Sealant!
2. Cushioning and Pressure Distribution
One of the main purposes of using underlayment. Underlayment produces better cushioning and distributes the pressure evenly throughout the surface to reduce the risk of bend and breakage of the flooring.
When choosing underlayment, you need to pick a standard thickness underlay that provides a bit of flexibility but not too much. Too much softness will allow the vinyl planks, laminate, or hardwood to move and eventually break them.
Around 2 to 3 mm thickness is the industry standard for perfect cushioning and even pressure distribution.
3. Noise Reduction
Modern underlays provide high-quality noise absorption while increasing the durability of the flooring material. You need to check whether your chosen one comes with sound-absorbing capability or not.
See whether your product comes with IIC and STC ratings. IIC stands for Impact Isolation Class which gives you the idea about how much impact made sound can be absorbed by the underlay. And the STC stands for Sound Transmission Class which gives you the idea about how much sound it can protect from transmitting through. Follow the general rule – the higher the value, the more sound it can absorb.
4. Moisture & Mold Protection
Protecting moisture from transferring through the underlay is another key thing to consider when buying the best underlayment for vinyl plank flooring or hardwood. Moisture gradually degrades the material and eventually, your flooring becomes unusable. So, make sure to get a product that comes with a high-quality moisture barrier.
There are a ton of cheap underlayment products that can give only a bit of cushioning, nothing else. Mold and mildew prevention technology are used in high-end underlayment products that come with anti-microbial. Vapor barrier along with anti-microbial agents ensures that you have a flooring that efficiently protects mold and mildew from growing.
5. The durability of the Underlayment
As the underlayment products are made for making the flooring more durable and compact, it is necessary to see whether the underlayment is durable enough. Otherwise, it can happen that your top flooring materials are in good shape while the underlayment has been decayed.
Generally speaking, durable underlayments are expensive. So, when you see a comparatively higher priced product, it should be more durable than the cheaper options.
Another great way to find out durability without knowing much about the build material is other features. If the product is providing all the high-end features, it is obvious that it is made with high-quality durable materials. So, an easy guess.
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6. Ease of use
No one likes to have a complicated product. When it comes to underlayments, they are mostly easy to install without any help from professionals.
But make sure to have some key features for making the installation easier. The underlayment should come with adhesive tape pre-installed and enough overlap for easy linkage with the other part. As you need to link one part with the other often, you need to have linking instruments pre-installed in the underlayment for convenience.
7. Heat Transmission
You should have already heard about R-Value. It is the valuation of heat transmission. The general rule is – the more the R-Value, the less heat can transmit through the material.
Concrete subfloor and basement need underlayment that can protect heat from transferring through the underlayment. Therefore, the best underlayment for concrete subfloor must come with a higher R-value. Otherwise, you’ll see the flooring becoming too cold in the winter.
8. Compression Resistance
Compression resistance is necessary when you are looking for the underlayment to lay under the high traffic areas like office corridors, in front of reception, etc.
Without compression resistance, the underlayment will shrink over time and make the flooring dent. This eventually cracks or breaks the flooring material without allowing the room to repair. So, when you are looking for the authentic underlayment for high traffic areas, it must come with high compression resistance for added durability.
What is the Benefit of Underlayment?
As we have outlined the buying guide, you should already know most of the benefits of laying underlayment, i.e. sound absorption, heat transmission, moisture protection, etc.
Another key benefit of installing underlayment is it eliminates subfloor imperfections. Most of the time subfloors are not 100% consistent. So, with the correct underlayment installed, you can easily correct subfloor imperfection.
Is Floor Underlayment Necessary?
It depends on the flooring material you are going to use. When laminate, vinyl plank, and hardwood floorings require you to lay underlayment, you can skip this for tile flooring. But we recommend using underlayment in all kinds of flooring that we have discussed in this underlayment review guide along with the basement and stairs.
Underlayment ensures better mold protection, sound absorption, and make your flooring durable.
Now that you know more details about underlayment than 94.6% of the population, you should be able to purchase the most authentic underlayment to lay under the flooring.
When purchasing the best underlayment for laminate flooring, or vinyl plank flooring, make sure to check our recommendations as those are handpicked by researching, gathering, and analyzing a ton of data.
Although we have tried to cover everything related to the best underlayment for vinyl plank flooring and others, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below if you have any questions unanswered.