Does Laminate Need Underlayment?

If you’re considering installing laminate flooring in your home, you may be wondering if you need to put underlayment down first. Laminate flooring is a popular choice because it’s affordable and durable, but to some people, the installation process might be tricky. 

Underlayment on laminate flooring is needed. You don’t need one when: it’s already pre-attached, or the manufacturer specifically tells you to not lay one. Without an underlayment, your laminate flooring will get damaged over time due to moisture accumulation or shifting.

Laminate is a type of wood that doesn’t have the same natural resistance as other types. In general, laminate needs some sort of padding underneath so that it won’t get damaged. But what are these paddings, and why do you need them? Your neighbor may have told you that the old carpet does the job, but does it really? 

Does Laminate Need Underlayment? If so, why?

home improvement – laminate flooring samples and underlay

Laminate underlayment is like a magic carpet for your flooring. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Laminate would not be able to survive without an underlayment, so it needs something that can protect it from the elements in order for you to have a long-lasting flooring solution. 

What is the purpose of underlayment for laminate flooring?

The main purpose of underlayment is to prevent your laminate flooring from getting damaged due to warping or expansion. This layer of protection provides stability and support as well as noise reduction to your floor

It also supports locking systems that are used in between planks, so we know it’ll be sturdy for years to come, in fact, you may even reuse it for other projects. Underlayment will also keep moisture away by providing a “vapor barrier,” which will prevent it from going through.

Can you put laminate flooring down without underlayment?

Underlayment is not an option; it’s a must! But there are some instances where you can install laminate flooring without underlayment.

These are:

If the laminate you bought already has underlayment attached (very common).

If the laminate flooring you bought has attached pads, you don’t need to add an underlayment.

If you plan on installing your flooring directly to your subfloor by stapling or gluing it.

The company you bought your laminate from tells you specifically you don’t need one. 

What happens if you don’t put underlayment under laminate flooring?

Shifting happens when the subfloor is uneven, which causes the laminate flooring to move and damages it in the process. Your laminate floor may also bend or buckle due to moisture accumulation. This will eventually lead to repairs which may also mean that you need to reinstall the underlayment again. 

Can you fix a damaged laminate flooring?

The most common mistake people make when installing laminate is not using underlayment or installing it poorly, for example, installing the wrong side or not knowing how much underlayment they need and ending up installing with gaps. Eventually, they regret it once they see their floor starts buckling (or warped) due to moisture accumulation. 

Once you reach that level, there is only one way to fix it…change the damaged planks. You can do that by cutting the plan out of the floor or entirely disassembling the floor and replacing the damaged planks this way. 

What can you put down under laminate flooring?

You can put anything from underlayment to spongy plastic foam sheets. Technically you can put anything such as tar paper under your laminate floor as long they do what an underlayment does, which is helping with noise reduction or movement, smoothing the surface, and keeping the moisture out. 

What is the best underlay for laminate flooring?

It’s important to have a good quality underlay to avoid any possible sound or vibration issues.  Even if you installed an underlay, it still might cause you problems due to poor quality. 

Did you know that most underlayment is made up of two layers? A felt layer provides cushioning and a vapor barrier that protects your floor from moisture. This also has adhesive tape to ensure there are no gaps in the laminate strips. 

Types of Laminate Underlayments

There are three different types of underlayments that are commonly used.

Standard Foam

Foam underlayment is a must for any laminate flooring project. It provides the perfect buffer between your floors and subfloor, making it easier on those walking around while also protecting them from noise in adjacent rooms – not to mention giving you some extra cushion! Foam underlayment should never be used in damp areas as it does not provide any protection against moisture. This type is usually suitable for (OSB) subfloors or plywood.


Combination underlayment is a type of protection that combines layers to offer the best moisture-proofing for laminate floors. The vapor barrier layer makes it possible to install on concrete, OSB, and plywood subfloors – so you don’t have to worry about your flooring when moving into a new space.

Vinyl-Backed Underlay

Vinyl-backed is a great option because it’s the easiest to install. It’s quick and easy to install thanks to its tile form, which lays flat during installation. It provides noise-proofing qualities, but seams must be sealed if moisture protection is of priority, or else the floor will get moldy. 

Acoustical/Sound Dampening Underlayment

Acoustical underlayment is a cheap investment that can make your home feel more like the calm sanctuary you deserve. It’s typically made of cork or felt and has an attached moisture barrier to keep any water from seeping through cracks in your laminate flooring. Installing it without attaching it to another layer will result in less sound insulation; however, this also means there are fewer chances for anything to go wrong when installing on top of subfloor layers. 

Can you double up the laminate underlay?

When it comes to installing laminate flooring, you can’t be too careful. If you install any additional underlayment beneath the floorboards, there’s a risk that the base will become soft and jeopardize the integrity of your locking system. The same story if you install a too thick or double layer of underlayment or one made from an inappropriate material like carpet. 

Do you need underlayment for laminate flooring on plywood?

Installing underlayment above plywood can only be beneficial. It helps with compression resistance and sound absorption, hides subfloor imperfections, and controls moisture, one of the most important factors in the flooring business. So, to answer the question, do you need underlayment for laminate flooring on plywood? The answer is YES! 

Do you need underlay for laminate flooring with padding?

Installing laminate flooring with a pad is an economical and easy option. It creates the perfect surface right out of the box, so you don’t have to worry about fitting underlayment underneath your new floors. 

Do I need underlayment for laminate flooring over tile?

In most cases, an underlayment is placed beneath a tile layer. However, if it’s not, the tiles themselves should act as an underlayment. So you don’t really need to lay another underlayment, but if you want to have some extra warm underfoot, acoustics, and better moisture protection, it’s’ standard practice to still lay an extra underlayment under the laminate flooring.

Do I need underlayment for laminate flooring over hardwood?

You need underlayment for laminate flooring if you wish to install it over hardwood. Provided that you level it out before you start with the installation. However, if your laminate flooring has a built-in underlayer you may install it directly. 

Do I need underlayment for laminate flooring on concrete

If you wish to install laminate flooring on a concrete subfloor, it is advised to use a rubber or foam underlayment. The thick rubber or foam underlayment will help you achieve the warmth and coziness of laminate flooring on a cold concrete surface.

Can I use an old carpet as an underlay for laminate flooring?

Carpets cannot be used as underlayments. They will do more harm than good if you install your laminate flooring without any additional underlayment. It’s strongly advised to remove everything down to the subfloor.

Should I use an adhesive or nail down my underlayment to the subfloor

No, you should not attach or nail the underlayment to the subfloor. It is a floating material similar to your laminate flooring and therefore does not need any nailing or gluing. 


Use the right type of underlayment for the right type of subfloor. If you have an old carpet, remove it entirely as they do not make a good underlayment and will damage your laminate flooring over time. Underlayment may cost you a little more. However, it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

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