Can You Lay Laminate Flooring on XPS? (Explained!)

Many people are unsure if they can lay laminate flooring on top of XPS foam insulation. You may be hesitant to start applying your beautiful new laminate flooring without knowing the answer. What if you do it wrong and have to start over?

Laminate flooring can be laid on XPS without any problems. In fact, XPS provides numerous benefits as an underlayment, such as: being waterproof and the ability to soundproof. Lastly, it helps make your subfloor even when it’s not.

Installing new flooring is a big job, and getting it right the first time is essential. You don’t want to start the project and then realize that you can’t finish it because of compatibility issues. XPS is an insulation material that is commonly used in homes. It is compatible with most types of flooring, including laminate. 

What is XPS underlay?

An XPS foam is a specific type of insulation board manufactured and used in the construction industry and made of entirely recyclable materials. It’s produced through foamed polystyrene, which is a material that is known for not deteriorating.

Can You Lay Laminate Flooring on XPS?

You can use XPS as an underlayment. In fact, there are several advantages to using XPS as an underlayment which are discussed further in this article. However, one of the main reasons most people tend to use it is because it’s easy to install. 

How To Lay Laminate Flooring on XPS?

If you’ve decided to lay down XPS as an underlay, but don’t know how to do it, no worries, here is how:

Prepare the subfloor

Whether you’re thinking of laying XPS on concrete, wood, or laminate, you need to ensure that you are prepared. Before setting down your planks, ensure that the sub-floor is even. Using a spirit level might greatly benefit you if you’ve never done this before. 

It should also be clean and free of debris and dust to ensure a smooth process.

Start laying the panels down.

Next, start laying the XPS panels down. Make sure that you install the boards in a tight and precise manner. Otherwise, you’ll find that there are gaps left between the boards. Because as time passes, these gaps will cause your floors to move.

Installing the boards tightly together ensures that your laminate stays in place and floor insulation is maximized due to the XPS. 

After your floor is completely covered with the insulation, you can proceed toward fitting the laminate planks right over the XPS. Be sure also to use a good quality floor primer to keep the boards in place. 

NOTE: Don’t confuse this with the process of installing laminate flooring. Laminate requires gaps on the sides so it can settlebut it also expands when the weather and humidity change. If you’re unsure how much expansion is needed, this guide on how much laminate flooring expands might be of great help. 

Apply the adhesive

Now, use a standard and flexible adhesive that is specific to laminate floors and appropriate for sub-floor construction. Try to spread a thin but full bed of adhesive on the flooring. It is recommended that you work along with board sizes and not opt for typical paneling.

Start laying the insulation boards.

After you have thoroughly spread the adhesive, start to lay the insulation panels over the fresh coat. Remember that you have to use a flat, rigid, and large trowel to press down the insulation boards. As you keep laying down additional boards, ensure that there are no gaps or air pockets beneath them. To achieve complete coverage, you need to be mindful of the insulation panels as you proceed. 

Moreover, you can also stagger the joints together for a better result. If you do end up with gaps between the boards, then your last resort would be to use adhesive and fill the small gaps in between.  

Trim the boards

 A sharp Stanley knife is suggested if you want to cut the boards down to size effectively and easily. 

Fit the final covering

Before laying down the final flooring, you need to keep the first thing in mind is to abstain from applying excessive load to the insulation. If too much pressure is applied to the insulation, it could result in considerable damage and dents. 

However, if you have no choice but to leave the insulation boards exposed or carry out additional work over them, you need to ensure they are protected. This entails that you cover them with some hard sheet material, such as ply, and minimize the risk of damage.

Work on a hard board

Once you get down to put on the final covering, be sure to use a hard board. Working on a hard surface will ensure that your insulation is not damaged as you install it. Make your way throughout the room similarly, and you should be ready.

Furthermore, don’t forget to follow the manufacturer’s instructions as you proceed with the XPS foam underlay and the laminate panels. 

If you need additional help with these instructions, feel free to check out this video below. It will help you get a clearer idea of what you are supposed to be doing every step along the way. 

Advantages of Laying Laminate Flooring on XPS

Below are various advantages you can reap if you install laminate floorboards on XPS.

  1. Where the look of XPS foam underlay is concerned, it’s a lot like a wood fiberboard. However, it provides higher insulation values. As a result, it can decrease the amount of energy consumed. This is possible because the XPS underlay prevents the heat from finding its way out from beneath the floor. Instead, it reflects the energy back in the direction of the surface. Consequently, your energy bill is considerably reduced, and you see the positive benefits of air emissions. 
  1. In addition to its superior performance in thermal insulation, XPS foam can defend against dampness (especially if your laminate flooring tends to cause dampness) and cold on your flooring. It has a closed-cell structure, which allows it to ensure high moisture resistance. Moreover, it prevents dampness and water from entering your home through the subfloor. 
  1. Another well-known benefit of XPS foam is its excellent ability to soundproof. After installing this insulating material, you’ll notice that your floor is not noisy when you walk on it (or make any hollow sound), as the XPS causes a reduction in sound transmission. As a result, no noise or sound will make it to the room below. 
  1. Even though XPS foam underlay is famous for being a lightweight insulation board, it has high-compressive strength. It can also withstand several heavy loads, so installing laminate flooring in your garage may be a better option. 
  1. Best of all, XPS is suitable for people installing laminate floorboards, especially when the sub-floor is minorly uneven. 

Disadvantages of Laying Laminate Flooring on XPS

Here are a couple of disadvantages associated with laying laminate floorboards on XPS. 

  1. The insulation material is flammable.
  2. It’s on the expensive side.
  3. Numerous harmful chemicals need to be processed to produce XPS, which means that this material is not environmentally friendly even though it is recyclable. 

Is It Worth It To Lay Laminate Flooring on XPS?

XPS foam underlay will be the perfect addition to your home if you want to smooth out uneven floors. But the numerous benefits such as its ability to soundproof, withstand heavy loads, or the ability to defend against dampness and humidity makes it without a doubt an excellent option. 


Is XPS underlay waterproof?

In addition to being famously lightweight, they also provide exceptional insulating properties, reduce noise, and are resistant to water, which makes them one of the best waterproof underlays currently on the market.

Can You Put Flooring on Top of Insulation?

It’s entirely up to you whether you add insulation on the flooring or completely replace the floor and then insulate beneath it. If you cannot access the space beneath your house, you can lift up the underlay and flooring from a corner to carry out a spot inspection. 

What Underlay Should I Use for Laminate Flooring on Concrete?

If you have a concrete subfloor, you will require an underlayment that also poses as a vapor barrier. It should help prevent moisture from making its way through your floor, all the way to your laminate. The typical underlay suggested is a thin foam pad preferably made of polypropylene or polyethylene.

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