Are you ready to install your new engineered floors? Although installing engineered wood offers a more DIY-friendly and easier approach than other floorings like carpet and tiling, it still includes various important steps that require care and attention. When it comes to maximizing the benefits of your floors, conducting proper installation plays an essential role. From prep to placement, many mishaps during installation can affect your experience with your new floors, including uneven leveling, future bulking, squeaking floors, and increased damage.
Underlayments are an optional installation step, but they minimize certain errors and future issues. They create a layer between your engineered planks and your subfloor, providing a range of purposes and benefits. There are also different underlayment options to choose from, offering you a range of various added qualities to their functionality. Here are five reasons why you need underlayment for engineered flooring and why you should include them in your installation process.
Moisture Damage Protection
From accidental spills to condensation and humidity, water damage is inevitable. Moisture and other forms of water always find their way around to wooden planks. Luckily, engineered floors hold more water resistance than solid wood because of their layered structure and compressed core, decreasing your chances of enduring severe water damage effects. Many people assume that protecting your wooden floors from moisture pertains to only the surface layer of your planks, especially since it's the exposed side. Although adding a finish does add water resistance to your floor, it doesn't shield your entire wood boards.
Installing underlayments for your flooring creates an additional protective barrier against moisture beneath your planks. They absorb water and moisture from the ground, dripping through the boards, and from the air filling the space between the engineered wood and the subfloor. Adding underlayments to your floors is like placing a towel or sponge or submerging something in rice to soak up the water within and around a specific item. Out of the range of underlayment options, felt offers more moisture resistance due to its higher absorption rate, and rubber works best to prevent the side effects of water damage like mold and mildew growth.
Subfloors are flat surfaces, often settled on top of your home's inner structure, and create the foundation of rooms. They come in various forms ranging in a variety of strong, hard, and sturdy materials, like plywood boards and concrete. Without underlayment, your new wood planks have direct contact with your subfloors.
Your floors endure a lot of weight daily from the force caused by walking to placed furniture. The more use of the floor, the higher foot traffic, and the older your floors get, the more likely they are to bend under applied pressure. Engineered wood planks dip under applied pressure like most materials reacting to gravity. As the planks dip under the added weight, they contact your subfloor's surface and rub against one another, creating friction and eroding your floors from below. Underlayments provide a cushion between the planks and the subfloor, minimizing their contact and relieving the intensity of enforced weight.
Extra Sound Absorption
Wood floors' flat and hard surfaces creates perfect conditions for sound to bounce and reverberate within a room. On top of sounds bouncing off the hard surfaces from the exposed layer of wood planks, sounds also occur below the floor. The small space left between wood floors and the subfloor without underlayments creates a little hollow gap that further produces echoes. Plus, as mentioned above, when the two surfaces contact one another and collide, their impact further releases sound. Sometimes loose or bulking wood floors that rub against another plank generate more noise in the form of squeaks and creaks.
Underlayments add a layer of cushioning to fill the gap between your wood floors and subfloor, preventing noise from moving, colliding, and rubbing planks. No matter what type of underlayment you choose, all materials featured in the various underlayments absorb sound waves, further reducing the sounds reverberating around a room. The more layers and density that fills a space, the harder it is for the frequencies of sound waves to travel.
Like sound waves, certain materials absorb and weaken heat energy. On top of providing an added layer for sound absorption, underlayments also create insulation layers. They can trap heat and block cold air from entering and spreading throughout the ground, controlling the room's temperature. People with cold feet often prefer carpets as they tend to feel and stay warmer than harder floor types like wood and tile. However, with underlayments, their insulating layer prevents the surface of the wood floors from being cold to the touch. Cork, foam, and rubber underlayments provide the most added insulation to your floors due to their high-density properties.
As previously mentioned, subfloors are the flat surfaces that set the foundation for your home's structure. Depending on their material makeup and the age of your house, some subfloors end up enduring lots of wear, creating uneven surfaces. Since your engineered planks go directly on top of the subfloor, the leveling of subfloors dictates the evenness of your new flooring. During the installation process, you can patch holes or uneven parts of the subfloor to level it out. For an easier approach and added leveling, you can insert an underlayment and layer more of it on the worn parts of the subfloor's surface.
Starting with a leveled ground affects the rest of your floors' installation process. Whether you use an adhesive, nails, or easy floating and latched planks, uneven surfaces make it harder to properly line up the planks and connect them to other pieces. Since wood is still a solid material, they don't hold bends unless it's through applied forces, making them hard to place over raised or dipped foundations. A solid and flat subfloor level also helps add stability and durability to your new wood flooring.
One of the best parts of using underlayments is that they operate inconspicuously, adding to the range of reasons why you need underlayment for engineered flooring. From added protection to increased qualities, underlayments enhance your floors in numerous ways. Since they operate behind the scenes, you can enjoy the beauty of your natural oak or grey engineered hardwood floors while still getting the additional benefits of underlayments.