Unlike solid hardwood flooring or even engineered wood flooring, laminate is very thin and lacking in solidity. In other words, it needs help. As a result, you need to provide extra cushioning and sound absorption properties to your laminate.
Without underlayment, your new floor will be harder on your feet. Noises will more easily transmit to floors below, as well as within the room where the laminate is located.
But the main purpose of underlayment is to provide a smooth, flat surface, reducing sub-floor imperfections that may “telegraph” to the flooring surface. To summarize, laminate underlayment:
– Provides your floor a bit more thermal insulation.
– Bridges minor gaps that sub-floors or existing floors have.
– Absorbs some sound.
– Makes it easier to walk on.
– Acts as a vapor barrier.
– Laminate Flooring With Pre-Attached Underlayment:
Some laminate flooring, such as Pergo Accolade and DuPont RealTouch, has underlayment already attached to the bottom of the floorboards.
With these types of floors, it is not only unnecessary to add underlayment–the quality of your installation will be detrimentally affected if you added a second layer of underlayment. You will end up with a floor that is too squishy and does not wear well.