What sort of underlay do you need for your wood floor?

Wood floors are one of the most attractive forms of flooring available. They enhance any home and can be used to bring a touch of style and elegance that will be admired by residents and visitors alike.

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There are many considerations you have to take into account when putting down wooden floors. One of the main factors is whether or not you need underlay, and if so, which type you should use.

Do I need underlay?

Generally speaking, if you are installing solid wood flooring in your home, you will not need to use an underlay. This is because solid wood must be fixed to the floor using glue or another method, and there is no need to install anything underneath it.

Underlays will usually be required if you are installing engineered wooden flooring, which is more often installed using the floating floor method, which means it is not permanently fixed to the ground.

What types are there?

Several types of underlay are available depending on the type of wood you are using. Most of them come on a roll, which is usually about 3mm thick, providing minimum movement for the wood on top but giving a certain amount of insulation and noise-absorbing properties.

The roll underlays come in silver and white. Although they are made from different materials, both do the same job and are available with or without built-in vapour barriers.

Vapour barriers are damp-proof membranes that help prevent your wooden floor from succumbing to moisture and becoming damp.

The white underlay is a cheaper, more economical version that is generally thinner and is made of a lightweight foam.

A more expensive underlay is called block board. This type of underlay is usually thicker (around 5mm to 7mm thick) but needs a separate vapour barrier.

Listed buildings

If you’re lucky enough to live in a listed building, you will have to follow certain rules about wooden floors.

According to Historic England, if an existing floor is being replaced or repaired, it can be an opportunity to improve its thermal performance. If you’re asking, can I use solid wood flooring in listed buildings?, there is plenty of good advice.

Whether you live in a palace or an ordinary house, one thing is certain: wooden floors will help you achieve the stylish, timeless look you want.