Flooring Underlayment​


When it comes to installing Chicago hardwood flooring, the right flooring underlayment can make all the difference. In this guide, we’ll explore what goes under hardwood flooring and the best options for underlayment. Understanding the role of underlayment is essential to ensure your new floors stand the test of time.

Hardwood Flooring Underlayment​
Hardwood Flooring Underlayment​

Hardwood Flooring Underlayment

Underlayment is what goes under hardwood flooring, between your subfloor and your hardwood or engineered wood flooring. It may consist of materials like rubber, cork, foam, or felt, and its choice can significantly impact the performance and longevity of your Chicago hardwood flooring. However, foam does have more give than cork so, while it is the more popular option, we recommend cork.It has less give, making it less likely to flex underneath your planks.

Why You Need Flooring Underlayment​
Why You Need Flooring Underlayment​

Why You Need Flooring Underlayment

The underlayment acts as a protective layer between your subfloors and the expensive Chicago hardwood flooring, potentially saving your investment from moisture damage, which is especially crucial for preventing warping and costly repairs. Furthermore, flooring underlayment is what goes under hardwood flooring, provides stability, insulation, soundproofing, and evens out subfloor imperfections.

Flooring Underlayment​
Flooring Underlayment​

Types Of Flooring Underlayment

There are four primary types of flooring underlayment to choose from, each with its unique qualities and suitability for different situations.

Felt underlayment: It offers basic moisture resistance, sound absorption, and some insulation. Additionally it is eco-friendly and can provide extra cushioning for added comfort. However, it might not absorb as much sound as other alternatives.

Foam underlayment: Affordable, easy to install, and offers extra cushioning, flexibility, and insulation. It effectively reduces friction and provides high sound absorption. Some foam options include a moisture or vapor barrier for added protection.

Cork underlayment: Environmentally friendly, with excellent sound absorption and flexibility. It’s ideal for rooms where sound control is crucial and can help stabilize your Chicago hardwood flooring. Additionally, cork has natural insulating properties and anti-microbial qualities, but it’s not waterproof.

Rubber underlayment: Versatile, offering exceptional sound absorption, moisture resistance, and insulation. Its waterproof nature prevents mold growth. Although it comes at a slightly higher cost, its ease of installation and benefits make it a valuable choice.

How To Choose The Right Flooring Underlayment​
How To Choose The Right Flooring Underlayment​

How To Choose The Right Flooring Underlayment

To make the best flooring underlayment choice for your hardwood floor installation Chicago, consider the species of your hardwood flooring and the specific needs of the room. Softer wood species like  white oak, benefit from cork or rubber underlayments for added support. Harder wood species, such as hickory or maple, thrive with foam or rubber, offering floor insulation and flexibility. The room’s activity level and location also play a role; busy areas benefit from added stability, while upstairs rooms can benefit from sound absorption. 

Do You Always Need Floor Underlayment?

You don’t always need floor underlayment, but it’s beneficial for most situations. It depends on the type of flooring and the surface it’s installed on. For example, it’s essential for vinyl on unsealed concrete but not always required for engineered wood and laminate floors above heated spaces.

What’s the difference between floor underlayment and a vapor barrier underlayment?


A vapor barrier underlayment primarily restricts water and water vapor from reaching the finish flooring. While it can serve as an underlayment, not all underlayments act as vapor barriers.

Chicago Hardwood Flooring​
Chicago Hardwood Flooring​

Chicago Hardwood Flooring

Simple Flooring offers the finest hardwood flooring selection, available for in-person viewing. Visit our hardwood flooring showroom, conveniently located just outside of Chicago, at 1445 Tonne Rd, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60007, USA.

Contact us for professional Chicago hardwood flooring solutions.


The average hardwood flooring installation Chicago typically ranges from $12 to $22 per square foot. This estimate covers the flooring material, labor, and additional costs such as flooring underlayment and adhesive.

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