Laminate Floor Underlayment: Is it Needed?
LESLIE: Joe in Ohio, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JOE: I’ve got a question for some bamboo laminate or snap-together flooring.
JOE: And somebody told me I needed to have a special underlayment that goes with the bamboo, compared to just the regular underlayment that you can use on the other free-floating floor.
TOM: Well, first of all, let’s just clarify. You mentioned two materials. You mentioned bamboo and you mentioned laminate. Now, laminate is not bamboo. You could have a bamboo pattern on laminate but are you talking about real bamboo here or are you talking about a laminate floor?
JOE: I think it’s a laminate, because it snaps together. It’s about a little bit over a ¼-inch thick by 5¼-inch wide.
TOM: OK. So, laminate flooring, depending on the manufacturer, often has a type of underlayment that they recommend. And it’s usually a very thin, I’d say, maybe about a 1/8- or 3/16-inch thick, spongy kind of material. I have seen it as sort of a roll of what looks like sort of white foam, like the kind of material that you might pack dishes in if you’re moving, where you wrap it around and around. I’ve also seen it where it’s attached to the back of the board.
So, typically, there is some type of soft underlayment material that goes down and it just gives the floor a little bit of give as you’re walking across it. So that’s kind of what you’re looking for. I would go back to the manufacturer that made the product, find out exactly what underlayment they recommend and then just use that.
JOE: That sounds good. We’ll have to look at the box and see what – who the manufacturer is.
TOM: There you go.
JOE: Somebody gave me a 130 square foot of this laminate flooring, so …
TOM: Oh, fantastic.
JOE: Yeah, yeah. It looked right. It’d just be the right fit for our kitchen, also.
TOM: All you’ve got to do is pick up the underlayment and you’re good to go. That’s a fun do-it-yourself project. Listen, Joe, just remember this, when you get close to the edge of the room, don’t go right up against it. Make sure you leave about a ¼-inch, at least, between the laminate and the baseboard molding. And then you cover that gap with shoe molding.
A lot of times folks go too close and then as the floor starts to expand, it sort of buckles up and there’s not much you can do about it. So leave a little bit of gap. It’s called a “floating floor” for a reason, OK?
JOE: Thank you much. I appreciate you folks.