Considering laminate or a floating engineered floor for your home? If so, you’ll need to add acoustical underlayment to your installation. Most people don’t know how important this is and how underlayment contributes to a “fabulous” floor.


First, know that acoustical underlayment is installed under wood or laminate floors to provide a foundation that helps, first, to even out the subfloor for a smooth surface. Second, and more important, underlayment absorbs sound, so you can enjoy indoor living to the fullest.


Why is noise reduction so important? Depending on the home’s and product’s constructions, that new floor can sound noisy, or even hollow. Lower-cost floors can sound quite noisy from one floor to another in multistory buildings.


There are many acoustical underlayments on the market. Like all products, you get what you pay for. So…buyer beware.


Premium underlayments are usually tested in accredited laboratories and are noise-reduction rated. A premium underlayment costs only pennies per foot more, but in the end will deliver more years of a much quieter environment. Inexpensive underlayments add little to no value to your installation. Discuss underlayment with your flooring pro. If possible, do “walk tests” to try out different products.


Many premium underpayments also offer a moisture barrier and a lip-and-tape seam sealer to provide moisture protection from both moisture below, as in concrete, and spills that will occur from above. Like oil and water, moisture and wood or wood-based laminate products are not good companions. Many underlayments also are treated for mold and mildew resistance.


Look for quality underlayments that are “green;” for example, made from recycled materials like rubber tires and high-density, rubber-based and frothed polyurethanes, and Carpet and Rug Institute Green Label tested and approved for low volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Such underlayments are easily purchased and installed by either a do-it-yourselfer or a professional installer.


Your flooring investment, even a modest one, can be a big one and important to you and your family. So, whether you want to make an inexpensive floor sound expensive or prevent a top-quality floor from sounding badly installed, know that an acoustical underlayment is one big factor that can ensure your total satisfaction for the long life of this type of flooring.