Choose the Best Underlayment for Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring has become an incredibly popular flooring option for homes and businesses alike. It offers the look and feel of more expensive flooring materials like hardwood, tile, and stone at a fraction of the cost. Laminate flooring is durable, easy to maintain, and available in a wide variety of styles.

One important but often overlooked component of installing laminate flooring is choosing the right underlayment. The underlayment sits between the subfloor and the laminate planks, providing cushioning and impact absorption. Choosing the best underlayment for your laminate flooring installation is crucial for comfort, noise reduction, and the longevity of your floors.

The optimal underlayment helps smooth out minor subfloor imperfections, reduces noise from foot traffic and furniture shuffling, prevents moisture from seeping through, and absorbs impacts to reduce wear and tear. With the wide variety of underlayment options on the market, it can be difficult to determine which one is right for your project and budget.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the factors to consider when shopping for underlayment and provide recommendations to help you choose the best underlayment for laminate flooring.

What to Look for in an Underlayment for Laminate Floors

There are several key factors to evaluate when selecting an underlayment for laminate flooring:

Cushioning and Comfort

One of the main purposes of underlayment is to provide a cushioned layer beneath the laminate flooring. Look for an underlayment made from materials like recycled fibers, foam, rubber, or cork to maximize comfort underfoot. The thicker the underlayment, the more cushioning it will provide.

Noise Reduction

Quality underlayment should mute sounds from footsteps, furniture shuffling, toys dragging across the floor, and items dropping on the floor above (if in a multi-level home). Underlayments made from foam or rubber tend to offer the best noise reduction.

Moisture Protection

Laminate flooring can be damaged by moisture from spills, pets, humidity, and subfloor moisture. Choose an underlayment with a waterproof moisture barrier to prevent moisture infiltration. Look for materials like polyethylene foam and films.

Leveling Ability

Minor subfloor imperfections should be smoothed out by the underlayment to prevent bumps and dips in the finished laminate floor. Materials like foam and cork conform well to create a flat surface.

Antimicrobial Properties

Some underlayments contain antimicrobial treatments to inhibit mold, mildew, and bacterial growth. This added protection can help maintain good indoor air quality.

Ease of Installation

Underlayment rolls should be lightweight and easy to handle. They should be durable enough to withstand installation without tearing or bunching up. Self-adhering options with pre-attached tape simplify installation.

Long-Term Durability

Your underlayment should be durable enough to last the entire lifespan of your laminate flooring, which is typically 15-25 years. It should not compress, crumble, or deteriorate over time.


Many homeowners prefer to use underlayments made from recycled and sustainably-sourced materials. Look for products made from recycled fibers, cork, natural rubber, and plant-based materials.


Underlayment typically costs $0.10-0.50 per square foot. Thinner, lower-quality underlayment is at the cheaper end while thicker, high-performance options cost more. Consider the added benefits before simply choosing the cheapest option.

Types of Underlayments for Laminate Floors

With an understanding of the performance factors to look for, let’s examine the types of underlayment materials suitable for laminate flooring installations:


Foam underlayments like polyethylene foam provide cushioning for comfort, excellent noise reduction, moisture protection, and conformity to minor subfloor imperfections. Basic foam options start around $0.15 per square foot while high-density, cross-linked polyethylene foams offer premium performance closer to $0.40 per square foot.


Cork underlayment offers natural soundproofing, anti-microbial properties, and moisture resistance. It absorbs impact for durability and conforms well to uneven subfloors. Cork costs $0.30-$0.50 per square foot but is not as dense and firm as some synthetic underlayment options.


Felt made from recycled fibers is an affordable option at $0.10-$0.20 per square foot. It provides basic cushioning but minimal noise reduction. It also lacks moisture protection. Felt works best for smooth subfloors in dry environments.


Rubber underlayments made from recycled tires provide excellent moisture protection, noise reduction, and comfort. Leveling ability and durability are also great but costs range from $0.80-$1 per square foot.


Fiberboard underlayment runs $0.15-$0.30 per square foot. It is dense and strong but does not cushion or absorb sound as well as foam and rubber. It may compress over time. Moisture protection is also limited.


Plastic film underlayments are inexpensive at $0.10-$0.15 per square foot but they are very thin and provide minimal soundproofing, no moisture barrier, and can tear easily during installation. Not ideal for laminate but sometimes used under carpet.


Some underlayments combine materials to blend benefits like foam with a film moisture barrier or a fiber top layer over foam cushioning. Costs run $0.20-$0.50 depending on materials used.

Best Underlayment for Laminate Flooring Reviews

Now let’s look at some of the best underlayment options for laminate flooring currently available on the market:

MD SELECT Ultra Foam Laminate Underlayment

  • Materials: High-density polyethylene foam with polypropylene moisture barrier film
  • Benefits: Excellent noise reduction, anti-microbial and antimicrobial protection, high density prevents compression, moisture barrier keeps floors dry
  • Cost: Approximately $0.28 per square foot

The MD SELECT underlayment earns rave reviews for its premium foam cushioning and integrated moisture barrier. It provides superb comfort underfoot along with durability and protection. The attached adhesive strips make installation fast and frustration-free. It works nicely below all laminate floor brands.

Roberts 70-190 FiberCushion Underlayment

  • Materials: Fiber top layer over high-density rubberized foam
  • Benefits: Combines cushy foam base with dense fiber surface, absorbs sound, blocks moisture, smooths subfloor
  • Cost: Approximately $0.30 per square foot

With a 4-in-1 fiber and foam construction, this underlayment from Roberts delivers great comfort while reducing noise. The attached overlapping tabs make it easy to install in rooms of any size and shape. Roberts makes a full line of underlayments but this combination product is ideal for laminate flooring.

FLOORMUFFLER Laminate Flooring Underlayment

  • Materials: 100% recycled fibers made in the USA
  • Benefits: High-quality felt absorbs noise and provides cushioning, made in America from recycled materials
  • Cost: Approximately $0.17 per square foot

For those looking for an eco-friendly underlayment at a reasonable price, the FLOORMUFFLER felt underlayment is a great choice. It helps to reduce noise from foot traffic and provides some nice comfort underfoot. Keep in mind it lacks a moisture barrier, which could be an issue in basements or bathrooms.

QEP 72004 UnderQuilt Laminate Flooring Underlayment

  • Materials: Closed-cell polyethylene foam with recycled content
  • Benefits: Made in the USA, antimicrobial protection, absorbs noise, smooth surface for laminate installation
  • Cost: Approximately $0.20 per square foot

This underlayment from QEP offers antimicrobial product protection and sound absorption at an affordable price point. It is suitable for use with all laminate flooring and easy to install in rooms of all sizes and configurations. QEP also offers lifetime technical support via phone, email, and live online chat.

How to Install Underlayment for Laminate Floors

When you have selected the right underlayment for your laminate flooring installation, proper installation is key to achieving the underlayment’s full benefits. Here is an overview of laminate flooring underlayment installation best practices:

  • Always install your underlayment according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Following their provided directions is essential.
  • Unroll the underlayment with the moisture barrier plastic side facing down towards the subfloor. The fuzzy fiber side should face up towards your laminate flooring planks.
  • Butt the edges of each section together tightly without overlapping. Do not leave gaps between sections.
  • Use adhesive tape to secure underlayment seams and prevent slipping. Some rolls come with pre-attached overlapping tabs or tape strips.
  • Roll out underlayment perpendicular to the direction you plan to install the laminate planks for maximum strength and stability.
  • If needed, use an underlayment-safe seam tape made of materials like PET plastic to seal seams and edges.
  • Extend the underlayment up walls about 1⁄4” and trim after installing trim pieces like baseboards and quarter round.
  • Never overlap two layers of underlayment as this can cause uneven flooring above.

FAQ About Underlayment for Laminate Flooring

Many homeowners have additional questions when researching and selecting underlayment for their laminate floors. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:

Is underlayment necessary for laminate floors?

Yes, high-quality underlayment is strongly recommended for all laminate flooring installations. Underlayment enhances comfort, reduces noise, prevents moisture damage, and helps the flooring last longer. Never install laminate flooring directly over a subfloor.

Should you use underlayment under laminate flooring in the kitchen?

Definitely use underlayment in kitchens. Look for an underlayment with antimicrobial properties and a moisture barrier to prevent water damage from spills, dripping appliances, and high humidity near dishwashers and sinks. This added protection helps maintain the integrity of the floors.

Is underlayment needed for laminate floors on concrete?

Underlayment is actually even more important when installing laminate over concrete. Concrete is hard and does not flex, so underlayment cushions each step. It also compensates for any minor variances in the surface. An acoustic underlayment will block noise from echoing off the concrete slab.

Can you install laminate flooring over old underlayment?

It is not recommended to install new laminate flooring over old underlayment. The materials compress and break down over time. Remove existing underlayment and start fresh with new underlayment designed for laminate floors.

Is underlayment required if you already have plywood subfloors?

Plywood subfloors alone are not sufficient underlayment for laminate floors. While plywood creates a smooth surface protecting from moisture, underlayment is still required for sound absorption, cushioning, and adjusting for subfloor imperfections.

How thick should laminate flooring underlayment be?

Thicker underlayment generally provides better cushioning and noise reduction. Look for underlayment between 2mm and 4mm thick. Thinner materials under 2mm may compress over time. Over 4mm may create uneven sections on the floor.


Choosing the right underlayment is one of the most critical parts of achieving a successful laminate flooring installation. Take time to consider the thickness, materials, and performance factors needed for your specific space. Be sure to install the underlayment properly, following manufacturer guidelines for optimal results.

With a quality underlayment like those recommended here, your new laminate floors will perform beautifully for many years to come. The small upfront investment in underlayment leads to better comfort, easier installation, reduced noise, and extended flooring lifespan. Don’t cut corners when it comes to picking and installing the best underlayment for your laminate flooring project.