Laminate Series, Part 2: How To Choose Laminate Cushion

Last week, we told you How To Choose Laminate.  This week, we’ll be discussing how to choose underlayment, or cushion, for your laminate flooring.

Cushion has a variety of benefits, such as reducing noise transmission, making the laminate sound more like hardwood when it’s walked upon.  It can create a moisture barrier, protecting the flooring from light moisture; and smooths out irregularities in the subfloor (the concrete or other surface underneath the flooring) for more comfortable walking and sound-dampening.  Cushion is necessary in most applications of laminate.

Choosing the correct cushion is very important in protecting your laminate, and getting the most out of it.  Here are a few tips on how to choose the right cushion:

What type of subfloor do you have?

If it’s concrete, you’ll want a combination cushion (a cushioned underlayment that features a layer of moisture barrier) to counteract the moist soil beneath the concrete that produces humidity and can damage your new floors.

Will moisture be a factor?

A standard foam cushion will work in areas in which moisture is not a concern, such as a second-story area, and when the subfloor is plywood.  Typically, you’ll want something about 2-3 mm thick.

Is sound-dampening important?

Sound-dampening is just as important on second-story floors as it is on the first, as the sound can travel below the floor, to the first story of the home. One of the main factors to look for in a good sound-dampening cushion is the STC rating (the Sound Transmission Class rating). The STC measures the cushions ability to dampen or deaden sound. The higher the STC number, the more it dampens sound.  Look for an STC rating of about 70.
Now that you’ve got your laminate and cushion picked out, it’s time to install.  More on this in the third blog of our laminate series, How to Install Laminate – A DIYer’s Project.