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Flooring Underlayment Category | Character Classification

Welcome to The McCurley’s Floor Center and MacFloor Northern California San Francisco Bay Area Flooring Center and Flooring Installation Services.

Underlayment is a layer used when installing laminate floor and engineered hardwood floors.  Underlayment comes in several types and qualities.  It is real important to understand the difference in underlayment quality and their function. McCurley’s Floor Center, has been a full service Floor Covering for superior Flooring products & professional Installation for residential & commercial flooring over 36 years. Our exceptional service, low prices & great selection has made us a reliable Flooring source for architects, builders, contractors & designers, as well as one stop shopping solution for consumers looking to save time & money.

We offer a wide variety of quality Flooring including underlayment from major brands at discounted prices, our Bay Area Flooring in San Ramon & Concord California warehouses carries many of underlayment products in stock for immediate to pick – up or delivery. MacFloor.com also distribute flooring underlayment nation wide.

This article will help to understand what is underlayment and why, when to use, where to use and how to choice flooring underlayment.


Underlayment is required for installation of Engineered or Laminate Flooring. Underlayment is layers of foam, paper, rubber, felt & cork which is install between subfloor and new floor. Will help for sound protection and provide a good insulation.


Underlayment must be used for floating installation of Laminate and Hardwood flooring. When installing Laminate or Engineered Hardwood flooring it is not only required to use underlayment, but also required to install a vapor barrier if over concrete sub-floor.

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Using underlayment for installation of Laminate and Hardwood Floors reduces sound and feels comfortable under your feet.  In any installation of floating floors a proper underlayment should be used.  Some underlayments have been designed to protect against mildew, mold and moisture.


Underlayment is installed over slab or plywood sub-floors.  If installing underlayment over concrete slab it is required to use a vapor barrier first.  Sub-floor surface must be clean and dry before installation. Underlayment can be used for any installation.  Condo owners are required to check the sub-flooring, if the sub-floor is concrete it will require an underlayment with moisture barrier. Before you install any Hardwood or Laminate you need to check with your Home Owners Association because most condo & apartment groups require special Acoustical underlayments with special sound prevention properties.


Choosing underlayments is critical, first you need to follow floor manufacturing recommendations for approved underlayment.  In general flooring underlayment comes in 4 major categories.

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Foam underlayment is a thin layer of foam which is called standard underlayment. This type of underlayment offers a minimum comfort and sound reduction.  It can not be used when installing Laminate and Hardwood floors over a concrete sub-floor.  When you are using the foam underlayment in buildings with concrete sub-flooring, it is required to use plastic (polyethylene film) with 6 mm thickness.


Combination of standard foam underlayment with plastic is called Foam/Film Combo or 2 in1 underlayment.  The plastic layer functions as a moisture barrier layer. When installing laminate floors or Engineered Hardwood flooring the plastic side should go down over the concrete floor.  The 2 in1combo underlayment prevents the moisture from the concrete to get into the flooring products.  This type of underlayment comes in different thickness and sized rolls.  It has a good moisture barrier, but is not a great sound reduction product.


Modified underlayment is an upgrade underlayment which is a thicker underlayment, designed for superior sound absorption, and to provide maximum walking comfort.  Some of the higher grade modified underlayment prevents moisture, mold and mildew.  Modified underlayment can be used in any building, condo, apartment, high raise buildings, residential homes and commercial spaces.  Notice to condo and apartment owners:  When installing Hardwood Floors or Laminate Flooring in second or higher floor, you need to check with your Home Owners Association rules for their requirement & recommended type of underlayment.


Choosing Cork underlayment is a great option, because it is a natural substance and has one of the best sound controlling systems.


Cork is the bark of an Oak tree.  It is a green product.  Most Cork comes from Portugal and Mediterranean areas.  One cubic inch of cork contains 200 million enclosed Air cells. Cork underlayment is available in floor tiles, floating floor underlayment, and rolls.


Because Cork consists of 90% gaseous matter, its density is extremely low giving cork a wonderful insulating and acoustical properties.

When Cork is subjected to pressure, the cells are compressed and volume is reduced, when released from pressure Cork recover quickly to its original shape.

The presence of suberin, an inherent waxy substance, makes Cork impervious to both liquids & gases and causes Cork not to rot.  Therefore, Cork is the best seal available as proved by the wine industry.

Cork does not collect dust and does not aggravate allergies.

Cork is resistant to wear, as it is less affected by friction and impact than other items because of its cellular composition.

Cork is a natural fire retardant; cork does not spread fire and does not release toxic gases during combustion.

Cork flooring tiles are produced from Cork granules with resins and molded in to desired form and density under pressure and heat.

Cork layers can be waxed, varnished, urethane or acrylic coated.

Cork floorings are quiet, warm, comfortable and easy to maintain and still remain reasonably priced.

Cork, a green natural unique material, combines more benefits that any other floor covering

Whether Your Home Is In East Bay - West Bay - South Bay or North Bay McCurley’s Floor Center Can Help You To Choose A Right Flooring And Offer The Best Flooring Installation Services. 36 Years of Flooring Experience Can Make A Big Difference.
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