Normally padding is used on laminate flooring only. And even though laminate flooring is cost-effective and a great option for you, you might decide for something a bit more durable and choose solid hardwood as your flooring option. If that’s your choice, and you already know all about underlayment, you might be questioning yourself: Is it possible to add padding under hardwood as well?
Solid hardwood is among the best of all flooring materials. Sourced from 100-percent renewable materials and capable of multiple refinishing, solid hardwood is a classic floor covering that contenders like laminate and engineered wood can only hope to match in terms of beauty and function.
But solid hardwood does have its downsides. One notable drawback is that it transmits sound vibration. Hardwood is dense but often it is not quite dense enough to absorb all of the vibration found in a typical home. In a multi-story house, it is common to hear the footfall of people walking overhead on hardwood floors, especially when those people are wearing heels. Is it possible to add soft, thick padding under a wood floor to mitigate sound transmission and improve overall performance? Is any type of intervening layer recommended?
Padding and Layers Under Solid Wood Flooring
Soft, padded foam of the type that is regularly installed under laminate flooring is not installed as the only layer between the subflooring and solid hardwood flooring. Engineered wood flooring, though, offers far more options for the introduction of the padding-style underlayment. So if sound mitigation is a concern and you are still in the process of shopping for flooring, engineered wood flooring might be a better choice. Several intermediate layers that are sometimes directly installed between subflooring and solid hardwood flooring include:
Red Rosin Paper or Builder’s Felt
Paper or felt are two materials that are traditionally installed between hardwood flooring and subfloor. These materials help minimize squeaking that may occur between the bottom of the floorboards and the top of the subfloor. However, paper and felt do not absorb sound in any meaningful way, nor do they make the surface any softer to walk on, in the same sense that foam underlayment does with laminate flooring.
Instead of soft underlayment, it is possible to lay down a solid underlayment that is specially designed for absorbing sound. SoundEater, made by Impacta, is one type of solid underlayment that can be installed under solid hardwood flooring. SoundEater is described by the manufacturer as a “free-floating underlayment designed for nail-down hardwood flooring.” In this case, the underlayment does not need to be nailed to the subfloor, but the hardwood planks will be nailed down to the underlayment.
Rubberized membrane is a thin (90 mil) laminated product that is so all-purpose that it can be installed under floor coverings ranging from solid hardwood to thinset-based ceramic and porcelain tile flooring systems. An example is Proflex90, a peel-and-stick rubberized fabric sheet product that can be used under finished hardwood floors. This membrane is waterproof and it offers a limited degree of sound control when used with hardwood floors. It is installed over the plywood underlayment just before the hardwood flooring is laid.
Thick Underlayment With Intervening Plywood
While soft, thick underlayment should not be installed directly under solid hardwood flooring, it is possible to do this when there is an intervening layer of plywood. With this type of application, a dimpled underlayment such as DMX 1-Step is laid on top of the subfloor. Directly above is a sheet of 5/8-inch plywood or OSB, then the solid hardwood flooring.
Looking to have padding under your hardwood floors? Now you know better! Grad that knowledge and get in touch with Face of Wood Flooring and we will gladly give you any additional information you need to make your final decision. Please use the contact form on this page to do so, and we will get back to you quickly to schedule your commitment-free appointment.