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What Goes Under The Flooring?

Laminate flooring or a floating engineered real wood floor require a foam underlayment, which cushions the floor underfoot.  Underlayment also deadens sound and allows the entire floor to function as a single unit held down by the base moldings.

Every manufacturer has its own underlayment products and specifications for their installation.  Exactly what combination of products you need depends on your situation. 

Installation on a concrete slab requires a moisture barrier.  Some floating-floor manufacturers build a moisture barrier into underlayment.  Others require a two-step application.  Be sure to to use only the materials recommended by the manufacturer of your flooring.  Some choices are:

6-Mil Polyethylene:  Keeps moisture out of the laminate flooring, but requires a separate foam underlayment.

2-in-1 Foam:  A more expensive product than separate moisture barriers and underlayments, but it allows you to cover the floor in one application.  Install the film side down (facing the slab).

Foam Underlayment:  This companion to polyethylene moisture barriers is made of closed-cell poly.

Rubber-Backed and Solid Poly:  A more expensive product, but worth it if you want the most comfortable floor and the highest degree of sound absorption.


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