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Choosing new flooring for your home or commercial space can be both fun and exciting. You’ve perused the possibilities, selected your style, and are thoroughly satisfied knowing your new floors are going to transform your space from drab to fab.
But did you know that what’s underneath your new floors is just as, if not more, important? Enter underlayment. Hardwood floor underlayment can add comfort and sound insulation helping you to enjoy your new floors even more.

When and Why You Need a Hardwood Floor Underlayment

Before we dive in on the types of underlayment available for hardwood floors, let’s cover a few simple questions.

Is underlayment necessary?

The need for underlayment is dependent on the quality of your subfloor, the type of flooring you’re installing, and the goals of your project.
To determine whether you’ll need underlayment consider the following.

Review Your Subfloor

What is the moisture level of your subfloor? Does it require a moisture barrier? Some underlayments can also provide a moisture barrier depending on the moisture readings of the floor.
To determine whether or not you’ll need a moisture barrier under hardwood floors, take a moisture reading of your subfloor and refer to the factory specifications of your flooring material.
If your subfloor has some imperfections, the use of underlayment can help so smooth out the surface and provide a more level and stable surface for your new flooring.

Flooring material

Along with reviewing the subfloor, you’ll want to review the recommended installation steps for your specific flooring material to confirm whether or not an underlayment is recommended.

Project Goals

Depending on the goals of your flooring project, you may choose to utilize underlayment or not. If maintaining a specific project budget is the most important thing, then you’ll likely try to avoid any elective or nice-to-haves in your project. On the other hand, if you’re seeking additional comfort in your floors, longevity of the flooring, noise insulation, or thermal insulation then you’ll certainly want to explore the benefits of a best-in-class underlayment.

What is the best underlayment?

The best underlayment is the one that meets the needs of your project. Flooring project needs which an underlayment can fulfill include providing a more stable layer beneath a floating floor, creating a moisture barrier, and creating a thermal and noise insulation layer. We recommend CALI Complete if you’re looking for a versatile, all-in-one underlayment.

What happens if you don’t use underlayment?

If you choose to not include underlayment in your flooring installation project, you’ll forgo the noise insulation benefits of the underlayment. Meaning that the noise throughout the home can be dramatically reduced with the use of underlayment. Additionally, if you’re planning to install over an imperfect subfloor, the use of an underlayment is strongly recommended to ensure your new floors rest on a stable surface.

Recycled Felt Underlayment Roll
CALI Complete Underlayment in Fan Fold Design

When choosing your hardwood floor underlayment, it’s important to consider all of the purposes you want it to serve. There are two types of hardwood floor underlayment that we recommend, each with their advantages.

Types of Underlayment from CALI

Recycled Felt Underlayment Roll

The first option for hardwood floor underlayment is Recycled Felt, which is made from natural or recycled fibers. At about 4mm thick, Recycled Felt provides what SVS is lacking, comfort and sound absorption, but unfortunately, doesn’t offer the moisture protection that is afforded with CALI Complete™.

The felt underlayment roll is perfect for your wood flooring installation if you’re looking for additional comfort underfoot and sound reduction. Felt underlayment is not for you, if you require some moisture protection or are laying your new hardwood floors over a concrete subfloor.

CALI Complete™ Underlayment

This all-in-one underlayment is designed for moisture and vapor protection for all subfloors and floor types. The do-it-all, non-toxic sheet also achieves better overall noise reduction. CALI Complete thermal insulation makes wood floors warmer and more comfortable. Interlocking edges and a fan-fold design mean simple installations for DIY homeowners and pros alike. And as an added plus for the planet, CALI Complete is 100% recyclable. Pair with Metallized Seaming Tape to ensure a full moisture barrier, even over concrete.

Underlayment Roll Installation Diagram
CALI Complete Underlayment Installation

When it comes time to install your new hardwood flooring, don’t skimp on what’s underneath. Reference this handy how-to guide to choose the perfect hardwood floor underlayment and rest assured knowing that your new floors will bring you happiness for years to come.


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