What Is The Best Underlayment For Hardwood Floors?

A well-maintained hardwood floor can add beauty and value to any home. But what many homeowners don’t realize is that the key to a long-lasting hardwood floor is a good underlayment.

It provides a buffer against moisture, helps to reduce noise, and provides additional insulation. There are many different types of underlayment on the market, so it’s important to choose the one that best suits your needs.

With so many options on the market, it can be tough to know where to start. Luckily, we’ve put together a handy guide to help you choose the best underlayment for hardwood floors. So check it out and get started on creating the perfect floor for your home.

What is a Floor Underlayment?

Floor underlayment is a thin layer of material that is installed between the subfloor and the finished flooring.

The underlayment provides a smooth, level surface for the finished flooring and helps to reduce noise and vibrations. It also protects the finished flooring from moisture and damage.

There are many different types of floor underlayments available, and the type that is best for your project will depend on the finished flooring that you are using. For example, hardwood flooring requires a different type of underlayment than laminate or vinyl.

Types of Underlayments

Most people don’t give much thought to the humble underlayment, but this essential component plays a vital role in ensuring a smooth, level surface for flooring.

There are many different types of underlayments available on the market, each with its own unique set of benefits. Here are five of the most popular options:


Foam underlayment is a popular choice for many homeowners thanks to its affordability and easy installation. However, the foam does not provide as much sound or heat insulation as other options.

Moreover, foam underlayment is one of the most popular options on the market because it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Foam underlayment also provides good sound absorption and moisture protection.

However, foam underlayment can be susceptible to crushing, so it’s not the best choice if you have heavy furniture or appliances.


Cork underlayment is another budget-friendly option that is also easy to install. Cork is also environmentally friendly and provides good sound and heat insulation.

Cork underlayments are more expensive than foam or fiberboard, but they’re worth the investment if you’re concerned about the noise level or moisture damage.


Rubber underlayment is more expensive than foam or cork, but it is also more durable and provides better sound and heat insulation.

Rubber underlayment is more expensive than foam or cork, but it is also more durable and provides better sound and heat insulation.

Rubber is an excellent hardwood floor underlayment option due to its many benefits. Rubber provides great insulation against both heat and sound, making it ideal for use in areas where there is high traffic or where you want to minimize noise.

Moreover, rubber is very durable and long-lasting, so you won’t have to replace it as often as other underlayment options. Third, rubber is also anti-static, so it won’t attract dust or dirt.

Rubber is also easy to install and can be cut to fit any size or shape of flooring. These properties make rubber an ideal choice for hardwood floor underlayment.


Fiberglass underlayment is a good choice for areas that require extra soundproofings, such as bedrooms or home theaters. However, fiberglass can be difficult to install and is not as environmentally friendly as other options.

Fiberglass underlayment is a good choice for homeowners who want to reduce noise transmission between floors.


Magnetic underlayment is a new innovation that uses magnets to hold the flooring in place. This type of underlayment is ideal for DIY installations or areas where traditional adhesives cannot be used, such as bathrooms or kitchens.


Hardboard, also known as particle board, is a type of engineered wood product made from wood chips and shavings that are glued together under high pressure.

While hardboard is not as strong as plywood, it is much cheaper and easier to work with, making it a popular choice for hardwood floor underlayment. Hardboard comes in different thicknesses and densities, so it is important to choose the right one for your project.

For most applications, 3/8-inch thick hardboard with a medium density rating will work well. Hardboard is available in sheets that are 4 feet wide by 8 feet long.

You will also need to choose a finish for your hardboard. The unfinished hardboard is less expensive but will need to be sealed before use.

Prefinished hardboard is more expensive but comes with a smooth surface that is ready to use. Whether you choose unfinished or prefinished hardboard, make sure to install it with the smooth side up to prevent scratching the flooring surface.

Advantages of Floor Underlayments

Floor underlayments are one of the most important inventions of the 21st century. Here are five reasons why:

  • They help to protect your floor from everyday wear and tear.
  • They provide an extra layer of insulation, helping to keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer.
  • They can help to reduce noise levels, making your home a more peaceful place to live.
  • They can add an extra level of comfort to your floors, making them more comfortable to walk on.
  • They can increase the value of your home, should you ever decide to sell up.

Best Underlayment For Hardwood Floors

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best underlayment for a hardwood floor depends on the specific needs of the homeowner.

1. Foam Underlayment

Best Underlayment For Hardwood Floors
Creator: Pannonia | Credit: Getty Images

If you’re looking for the best possible way to cushion your hardwood floors, then you need to invest in foam underlayment.

This material is designed to provide an extra layer of support and comfort, and it’s also great at absorbing impact noise. In other words, it’s exactly what you need if you’re looking for a way to make your floors feel softer and quieter.

Plus, foam underlayment is also very easy to install, so you won’t have to worry about spending hours on your hands and knees trying to get it just right.

All in all, foam underlayment is the best way to go if you want to make sure that your hardwood floors are as comfortable as possible.

2. Cork underlayment

 Best Underlayment For Hardwood Floors
Creator: Andrey Gonchar | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Cork underlayment is often used in commercial and residential settings to protect hardwood floors. This natural product is made from the bark of cork trees, and it has a number of advantageous properties.

For one, cork is an excellent sound insulator, which can be helpful in both homes and businesses.

In addition, cork is also resistant to mold and mildew, making it ideal for use in damp areas. So, cork underlayment is also helpful in regulating temperature, keeping floors cool in summer and warm in winter.

With all of these benefits, it’s no wonder that cork underlayment is becoming increasingly popular as a way to protect hardwood floors.

3. Cement Board 

Cement board is a type of Hardwood Floor Underlayment that is made from Portland cement, aggregate, and water. The Portland cement is mixed with aggregate, typically sand, and water to create a slurry that is then formed into sheets.

Once the sheets are dry, they are cut to size and can be used as an underlayment for hardwood floors. Cement board has a number of advantages as an underlayment option.

It is durable and resistant to moisture, meaning it will not swell or cup-like other types of underlayment.

In addition, it provides a solid foundation for hardwood floors, helping to reduce noise and ensuring a level surface. Overall, a cement board is an excellent choice for hardwood floor underlayment and can provide many years of service.

Related Topic: How to Remove Hardwood Flooring For Reuse?

How to Choose a Floor Underlayment?

If you live in an area with high humidity, you’ll want to choose an underlayment that is resistant to mold and mildew. If you’re concerned about noise, there are underlayments available that can help to reduce footfall noise.

And if you’re looking for additional insulation, there are underlayments made from recycled materials that can help to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

When it comes to choosing the best underlayment for hardwood floors, there are also many other factors to consider. For example, you’ll need to think about the type of wood you’re using, the climate in your home, and the amount of foot traffic.

You also have to keep in mind the area where you want to install a hardwood floor.

You’ll also need to decide whether you want an underlayment that provides sound insulation or one that’s designed to protect your floors from moisture.

How to install Underlayment?

Many people don’t realize that there’s more to installing a hardwood floor than just nailing the boards to the subfloor. In fact, one of the most important steps in the process is installing underlayment.

This material helps to insulate the floor and absorb impact, reducing noise and extending the life of the floor.

When installing underlayment, it’s important to start at the farthest point from the door and work your way toward the exit. This will ensure that any seams are hidden beneath the trim.

Once you reach the door, you’ll need to use a utility knife to cut the underlayment to size. Then, simply roll out the material and staple it in place.

With a little time and effort, you can easily install underlayment and lay the foundation for a beautiful hardwood floor.

What Happens if you don’t use Underlayment?

Many homeowners choose hardwood floors for their durability and classic good looks. In order to get the most out of a hardwood floor, however, it is important to use an underlayment.

Underlayment is a thin layer of material that is placed between the flooring and the subfloor. It helps to protect the hardwood from moisture and provides padding that makes the floor more comfortable to walk on.

Without an underlayment, the hardwood may be damaged by water or become stained and discolored.

In addition, the floor will be less comfortable to walk on and may make noise when walked upon. For these reasons, it is important to use an underlayment when installing a hardwood floor.


So, what is the best underlayment for hardwood floors? The answer depends, If you have a floating floor system, any good-quality foam will work.

If you have a glued-down floor system, you’ll need an underlayment that can handle moisture like cork or rubber.

As always, we recommend checking with your contractor to see what they suggest. And don’t forget to let us know in the comments section below what type of wood flooring you have! We love hearing from our readers.

Related Topic: How To Remove Haze From Engineered Hardwood Floors? (Guide)


Do I need underlayment for hardwood floors?

There are a lot of benefits of a floor underlayment like it increases the stability and durability of a floor. So, if you need to get these benefits you should install underlayment for your hardwood floor.

Is rubber underlay better than foam?

Rubber underlay is purely made of rubber so it is more waterproof than a foam underlayment. However, we can’t say rubber underlay is better than foam. Because there are many other things to consider like stability and flexibility etc.

How thick should the underlayment be for wood flooring?

The general rule of thumb is that underlayment should be about 1/8 inch thick. However, this can vary depending on the type of flooring being installed. For example, thinner underlayment may be sufficient for engineered hardwood, while thicker underlayment may be needed for solid hardwood.

Ultimately, it’s important to consult with a flooring professional to ensure that you are using the right type and thickness of underlayment for your project.

Does hardwood flooring need a vapor barrier?

The answer depends on a number of factors, including the type of wood flooring being used, the climate in which the home is located, and the homeowner’s personal preferences. In general, however, it is not necessary to use a vapor barrier when installing hardwood floors.

While it may provide additional protection against moisture, it can also trap humidity, which can cause the wood to warp or discolor over time. Ultimately, whether or not to use a vapor barrier is a decision that should be made in consultation with a professional installer.

Do hardwood floors need to breathe?

The answer, according to experts, is both yes and no. While it is true that hardwood floors need air to circulate in order to stay in good condition, the space between the floor and the wall is not actually needed for this purpose. The gap between the floor and the skirting board acts as an air passage, allowing air to circulate beneath the floor.

However, if this gap is too large, it can cause drafts, which can be problematic in colder months. As a result, it is generally best to leave a small gap between the floor and the wall to allow air to circulate while avoiding drafts.

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