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Zee 32 10-30-2009 07:52 AM

Underlay for Laminate Flooring
I have received conflicting advice from different flooring departments at some of the big box stores, and thought the members here may be able to shed some light through their experiences.

I am laying about 400 sq feet of 12mm laminate flooring on a wood subfloor above grade. Moisture is not an issue, and the area below this room is climate controled.

The sales rep at the store I purchased it talked me out of buying the higher end underlay (Quietwalk type) and said that all I need is the basic foam underlay which is about a 3rd of the price. He said the thickness of the laminate is key, and if I was doing the cheaper 8mm laminate, he would recommend the Quietwalk type. I have never heard this before.

Other sales reps at different stores have advised that it makes a huge difference in sound to have the higher quality underlay.

Any advice? I don't mind spending the extra money if it is going to make a big difference, but don't want to spend it if I can get away with a mid range product instead.

Thanks for any help!


JK Floors 10-30-2009 09:21 AM

You can get away with the cheaper underlayment, but you pay for what you get. There is an advantage in getting better underlayment and if you like a quieter room and don't like the clicky sound of people walking on laminate flooring then get the better material.

Also consider if you get better underlayment or flooring from an actual flooring store. Most of the time (not always) you can get a better product and better advice from somewhere other than a big box store. You might pay more, but you might get a better product.

pinwheel45 10-30-2009 09:37 AM

I'd spring for the quietwalk. Sound quality is the biggest advantage here.

LeviDIY 10-30-2009 09:45 AM

Go for the better quality underlayment - laminate is cheaper flooring to begin with, the cheaper underlayments accentuate that.

Zee 32 10-30-2009 10:16 AM

Thanks for the replies....

Those sum up what I thought all along, in fact, at my previous house, I used the quietwalk, but this sales guy was adamant that it makes no difference in sound with 12mm laminate. I talked to a flooring installer who also told me that the middle of the road stuff isn't going to be any louder than the top of the line stuff....It just seems that every person I talk to, I get a different story...

Dave-Denver 11-24-2009 10:34 PM

Part II - Underlayment for laminate flooring
My situation is exactly like the OP... and I am only focused on minimizing noise. (no moisture, temperature, etc issues.)

OP... what did you use and what what your experience?

We picked out a Formica brand based on color and it is their 2nd best product and not the skinny photocopy type stuff.

Will be purchasing flooring from an independent flooring co popular with contractors and they said the standard 3-in-1 product (yellow foam with plastic sheeting less than 1/8" think) from Formica is just fine with our better (and thicker) laminate and that chain flooring retailer (like C.E.) always try to upsell the underlayment to make money. They also said that Formica (and implied others) will not warranty their laminate unless it is installed with their underlayment. They said just stay away from the "tissue paper" foam, and that anything else (good grade or premo grage) will all perform very much all the same on a wood subfloor plus the standard 1/4" wood underlayment.

But all the other laminet underlayment products (foam, fabric, like already mentioned in this post) which are available at the big box stores and online are so much more substantial it sure appears obvious that they would do a better job at noise reduction.

Anyone else been down this path?


poppameth 11-25-2009 05:52 AM

I hope you haven't bought the Formica yet. Last I heard Formica brand laminate was made by Kronotex. Kronotex has one of the worst reputations in the laminate business. So far I haven't heard much good about Formica Laminate.

Zee 32 11-26-2009 08:08 AM


Originally Posted by Dave-Denver (Post 357541)
My situation is exactly like the OP... and I am only focused on minimizing noise. (no moisture, temperature, etc issues.)

OP... what did you use and what what your experience?

Hi Dave,

I ended up using the higher end underlay. I figured since I was using a higher quality laminate, I would do it right, so I wouldn't regret it later.

A buddy of mine did laminate in a kitchen, hall and bedrooms, he used the lower end underlay in the bathrooms. He claims a noticable difference in sound.

That said, he used cheaper 8mm laminate, so that may be the cause, but I must say, with the higher end laminate and underlay, I am happy with how quiet the floor is. For the extra 80 dollars, I feel it was the right choice!

Good luck with your project.

Dave-Denver 11-27-2009 07:28 PM

Thanks for info.

My Formica product is 10MM and has a 30y warranty (yes warranty's are most always worthless)... but the top color layer was represented as being really tough stuff and not the cheap "photocopy" stuff.

My installer will put down any underlayment I pick... but if I put down a non-formica product he will ask that I sign a notice of non warranty by the Mfg.

The Formica underlayment is less than 1/8" and looks like simple yellow foam with with vapor barrier. The after market products are in the 3/16"+ range and sure look better then simple foam.

Thanks again for you comments.

Dave-Denver 12-13-2009 01:20 PM

What I ended up doing
Short version is that I went with Formica better 3-in-1 product that is make for the laminate I picked out. The floor is now installed and it sounds and feels just fine (it is still not real hardwood... nothing is going to change that). NO clacky sound problems at all.

The installer told me using a 3rd party upgrade would give only a little more sound protection. As for feel... he said the 3rd party product can actually feel softer... or less like real hardwood. He said again that staying away from the anyone's cheep "tissue paper" product is the real objective.

But since the 3rd party products are thicker and more cushy that over time that may lead to extra flex in the snap fit floor connections which could cause those connection to weaken/ware which could then lead to squeaks, chips on the seams, spongy feel, etc. And it for that reason the the mfgr will not warranty its product when using a 3rd party.

So I went with the Mfgr recommended product, the floor is in and we are real happy with the outcome.

Thanks everyone for comments and making this a usefull site.

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