What should I put under my hardwood floors?

Author: Ben Nolan  |  Last update: Sunday, June 19, 2022

Red Rosin Paper or Builder's Felt
Paper or felt are two materials that are traditionally installed between hardwood flooring and the subfloor. These materials help minimize squeaking that may occur between the bottom of the floorboards and the top of the subfloor.

What do you put under hardwood flooring?

Simply put, underlayment is a layer of material between your subfloor and your floor. While some flooring comes with the underlayment attached, others will require you to install a separate underlayment. Most of the time, underlayment consists of rubber, cork, foam, or felt.

What is the best subfloor for hardwood floors?

Hardwood flooring: Plywood is the best subfloor for hardwood flooring installation. CDX plywood ranging from 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick and rated A/C will serve well for any hardwood flooring installation. Tongue-and-groove plywood is available to reduce squeaks and help the subfloor fit together better.

Is there an underlayment for hardwood floors?

There are a few different underlayments that are typically used to support hardwood floors. While they each serve a different purpose, they are all useful in their own way. Felt – often made of recycled materials, green, affordable, creates a tight seal from humidity and insulates.

Do you need a pad under hardwood flooring?

Hardwood floors do not require underlayment padding, but they may squeak and creak if you place the surface boards directly against the underlayment. Wood-against-wood friction is one of the most common reasons behind floor creaks.

Choosing the Best Underlay For Laminate & Wood Flooring

Should you put paper under hardwood?

Felt paper is installed under hardwood flooring to provide an extra layer of moisture protection and also to dampen sound. You will need to install it under your wood floors if a padding is not already attached to the hardwood planks. Many models of hardwood planks have dampening foam already attached.

Do I need a moisture barrier under hardwood floors?

Do I need a vapor barrier for hardwood floors?" The answer is YES! Moisture can destroy hardwood flooring. It causes cupping, warping, and even mildew if not treated. You must install a moisture barrier to protect your flooring from water wicking up from below.

Can I use roofing felt under hardwood flooring?

Roofing paper should not be used under hardwood flooring. Due to its bituminous materials, it could begin to exude an unpleasant odor and even be toxic for your family. Instead, rosin or felt underlayment paper is appropriate.

What goes between subfloor and hardwood?

Underlayment is the layer of material that sits between the subfloor and the new hardwood flooring. Subflooring is a layer of plywood or engineered wood that sits at the very bottom layer of the flooring.

How thick should subfloor be for hardwood floors?

A wood subfloor should be OSB or plywood of 3/4″ or thicker for a hardwood floor installation. Particle board and chipboard are unacceptable for solid hardwood installations, but may be used in an engineered flooring install.

What is the difference between subfloor and underlayment?

Basically, subfloors are a structural part of your home that provide strength and rigidity to your home's flooring. Underlays, on the other hand, protect your floor covering from moisture, help soundproof your floor, and offer cushioning and comfort underfoot.

Is it better to use OSB or plywood for subfloor?

The National Tile Contractors Association and the Resilient Floor Covering Institute both recommend plywood for subflooring and underlayment, because it doesn't have the risk of swollen edges that OSB does. Plywood also has a slight advantage in stiffness, which means that subflooring panels need not be quite as thick.

Is underlayment necessary?

Underlayment for laminate flooring is a must. Since laminate is a floating floor, it must be evenly distributed across your subfloor. Underlayment is what allows the floor to float, gives it stability, support, noise reduction, and supports the locking systems in between planks to assure the sturdiest flooring project.

How thick should underlayment be?

Underlayment. Underneath the top flooring layer is often (though not always) an underlayment. It comprises padding materials and is typically about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in thickness. The purpose of the underlayment is to provide a sturdy yet comfortable layer for your outer flooring to sit on.

Why do you put wax paper under hardwood?

The wax paper provides a professional grade thickness and performance to help ease the installation and reduce squeaks in wood floors. The wax paper is simply placed between the subfloor and the wood flooring on above grade installations.

Can tar paper be used as a moisture barrier?

Tar Paper As A Vapor Barrier

It also tends to last a long time, and it can be used with flashing, rain screens, and a wide range of siding materials. Unfortunately, tar paper tends to retain moisture, and it does not work as an adequate air barrier. It can also lead to odor over time.

Can you use red rosin paper under hardwood floors?

As mentioned above, the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) explicitly recommends not using rosin paper with hardwood flooring. The reason is that rosin paper does not function well as a moisture inhibitor.

How do I protect my hardwood floors from moisture?

One of the best and easiest ways to protect your hardwood flooring from water damage is to lay down mats and rugs throughout the house. Place mats at the entrances to your home to keep wet, muddy shoes from traipsing onto your floors, and put a mat at the base of any sinks to protect your flooring from splashing water.

Where should vapor barrier be installed?

Vapor barriers are usually best installed on the side of the wall that experiences the hotter temperature and moister conditions: the inner surface in colder climates and the outer surface in hot, humid climates. In existing spaces, oil-based paints or vapor-barrier latex paints offer an effective moisture barrier.

Do I need a damp proof membrane on floorboards?

When installing wood flooring, solid or engineered, on a concrete base the use of a damp proof membrane is always recommended. No matter how dry your floor feels it will always contain damp, which can be drawn to the wood if not treated causing cupping, lifting and general damage to the floor.

What is the purpose of rosin paper?

When used as an inner liner in wall, roofing, or wood flooring applications, RED ROSIN PAPER acts as a separation barrier, protecting against wind and dust infiltration, while minimizing squeaks. It is compatible with coal tar and asphalt-based roofing systems.

How close should you nail hardwood flooring?

The nail spacing schedule varies by board type but you always nail down the ends of each board and space nails between 6, 8, or 10 inches apart. Always read and follow the flooring manufacturers guide and recommendations. We've now reached the final few rows that are too close to the wall for a Powernailer.

What is floor underlayment?

Underlay or flooring underlayment is a thin layer of material such as fiber, felt, rubber or foam. The thin layer of material helps cushion, sound absorption, insulation and reduce wear with your flooring.

Is it better to nail or screw subfloor?

Ideally, nail down your subfloor using corrosion-resistant nails that will securely hold it in place and last a long time. Screws are a great alternative that you can easily remove, but they are not as sturdy. Screws are superior in terms of reducing floor squeaks, but the installation is slower.

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