Nov 11, 2019 | Flooring America
When you’re a homeowner, you’re responsible for all sorts of maintenance duties, from dealing with plumbing and heating issues to keeping your chimneys and gutters clean. One area where many homeowners run into trouble is flooring insulation. There’s a disconnect between what many homeowners call insulation and what it actually is, this is because what most think of as insulation is actually underlayment.
If you’re ready to learn more about the differences between insulation and underlayment and where the two overlap, then let’s dive in!
Simply put, insulation is material used to help your home trap heat and retain warmth during those chilly winter months. If you live in a hot climate, you might be thinking, why do I need insulation? The answer is that insulation can also help keep heat out and cool air in, making your home more energy-efficient — and, as you’re sure to notice on your monthly electric bill, more cost-efficient, too. Plus, insulation can inhibit the growth of mold and mildew, which is always a bonus in hot, humid climates.
Insulation is packed into your building’s structure to provide thermal protection from the elements. Flooring insulation is insulation that is installed under the subfloor between floor joists, which are the horizontal structures that provide a firm framing foundation for a subfloor. This is the same type of insulation that can be found in the walls of a home.
The material that is installed underneath the top layer of flooring is actually called “underlayment.” Underlayment sits just above a subfloor and right below your flooring. Underlayment is applied during the installation of new flooring material. The knowledgeable installer will know how and where to place this material. Underlayment is not only an insulator, but it also has many other beneficial purposes.
Insulation is used between joists underneath a subfloor and is often applied during construction of the home. Underlayment (as its name suggests) is layered directly beneath your flooring to help buffer sound, add protection from moisture, and create a smoother flooring surface -- compensating for any unevenness in a subfloor. And yes, it can also help better insulate your floors, but insulation and underlayment are two different products.
In short: yes! Experts estimate that as much as 15% of heat loss occurs through the floors of your home. By choosing a quality floor underlayment when purchasing your new floors, you can prevent unnecessary heat loss, slashing your energy bills in the process.
Ultimately, the decision to insulate your floors comes down to each individual homeowner. However, we strongly recommend using underlayment beneath your flooring due to the benefits it can have for your home. Underlayment can help insulate your floors and is critical to saving heat while keeping your home comfortable. With that in mind, it’s often best left to professional installation teams to tackle the project.
Underlayment comes in a variety of materials, including poly foam, silicone, and even eco-friendly recycled materials (such as rubber and foam composites). Different types of underlayment can also work with your flooring to deliver a quieter tread on your floors when walking, provide insulation, and level out an uneven subfloor. Choosing the right type of underlayment depends on the type of floors and subfloors you are installing it between, and the amount of insulation you require against sound and the elements.
What type of underlayment should you use? How many inches thick? How do you install it? And how do you avoid damaging your floors in the process?
When you work with Flooring America, you don’t have to worry about these questions. Our team of professional flooring installers will handle all the heavy lifting for you — literally. All you have to do is relax and enjoy the savings on your energy bill.
Need to get more flooring ideas first? Our design blog has dozens of articles to help you get started — or, check out My Design Finder to see visual examples of style in action. Whenever you’re ready to tackle your insulation project, we’ll be here to help. Contact us online to get started, or call Flooring America at (866) 439-6743.