Before installing a new laminate floor we may want to place a layer underneath the actual floor. It is called foam, underlay, or base. There are some important reasons to do that:
- Steam Barrier
- To level small irregularities
- Thermal isolation
- Acoustical isolation
Talking about its thickness, there are many different types. But the most used is the 3mm thick one, which is recommended by most of the manufacturers. Anyway, you can fill your needs with different ones, like 1mm or 5mm, if you need more isolation for example.
There are laws in some countries about this topic, making it an obligation to place this kind of underlay under all laminate flooring. Anyway, I bet it is almost impossible to be checked… It is mandatory as well in most of the cases for the underlays to have a film to make it steam resistant.
RELATED LINK: Three Reasons why Laminate Flooring Rules
The standard material for the underlay foam is polyethylene. It has a thin transparent film in one of its sides. It is usually white and 3 or 2 millimetres thick. This standard underlay makes all of the points on the list at the top of the post in an average way. But there are some other types to fit specific needs, as follows.
If the base where the laminate flooring is applied is really unlevel, a modified polyethylene is used, which is around 10 mm thick. These particularly fat polyethylene underlays are good for acoustic isolation as well. But the lack of steam barrier makes it mandatory to place a thin polyethylene film before it. So you have both functionalities.
If heating is what you are worried about, you should use metalized materials, such as aluminium, metalized propylene, or almost any other underlay that covers the metallic component.
Nowadays you can find some different underlays, but the standard ones will fit in 99% of the cases perfectly, covering with good rates all of the needs for that kind of product. They are usually presented in rolls, but you can find them in sheets as well.
Tell us what you usually do, and share your knowledge! 🙂