Should You Add Padding Under Your Hardwood Floors?

The thought of beautiful hardwood floors throughout your home can be very appealing. It may be exactly what style you're going for, but to create the most desirable look and function, it's critical to install floors properly with close attention to the details. That's not just the way they snap together or how they are cut either. Even what's under them matters.

Before you think about placing the wood down and cutting it to fit, you have to consider the subfloor and what's going to go between that wood structure and the hardwood you're installing. MP Global states that you have to make a choice about whether or not underlayment is necessary or beneficial. Underlayment is a type of padding placed under floors and typically made of rubber, foam, or felt. It's very thin and may not seem like a useful addition and just an added cost. Do you really need it?

What's it good for anyway?

If your subfloors are nice and level, there may seem like no need to add this second layer until you consider a few of the benefits it offers. First, Flooring Inc. states that, depending on the type of underlayment, it can act as a moisture barrier to protect your brand new (and highly expensive) hardwood floors from absorbing moisture, which could otherwise end up warping the flooring. Because moisture in the lower levels of the home rises, condensation can build on the subfloor.

There are other benefits to using underlayment, too. For example, depending on the type purchased, it may help provide home soundproofing for that area, reducing some of the sounds that pass from room to room. It also creates a bit of a barrier from the click-clack of walking on hardwood floors and from being a distraction. Some forms of underlayment can provide a nice thermal insulation benefit, too, helping to make the floor a bit warmer in the middle of the winter.

But do you really need it?

There are lots of benefits to using underlayment, but if you've put down half the floor and just realized you may need it, don't worry too much. What's more important than using underlayment is selecting the highest quality of hardwood floors in the first place, as these products are less likely to need such padding, according to MP Global. You don't have to use it.

Yet, if you're at the start of the project, you'll likely find it is a low-cost way to add more comfort and protection to your home. Underlayment is only going to improve your floor's function and fit into your space if you place it and has very few drawbacks since it's overall easy to install, too. Further, as Carpet Captain explains, it's also important to consider if your subfloors aren't level. In that case, it's definitely a plus because it can even out areas of concern.