Is underlay required for hardwood flooring?

Strictly speaking, you don’t have to have underlay for hardwood flooring, but there are a number of reasons why underlay is recommended. Whether you are using solid wood or engineered wood flooring, underlay performs a number of functions.


Hardwood flooring is expensive compared to other floor coverings, but it is designed to last a long time. Underlay can help protect the wood floor and increase its lifespan. For a little extra cost, it’s a good investment.

Many floor companies will not provide a guarantee for the life of the hardwood floor without underlay.

A hardwood floor needs regular cleaning to preserve the floor in a good condition whether it has an underlay or not.

Subfloor imperfections

The subfloor on which the wood is laid needs to be even. Major dips and flaws in the subfloor have to be filed in. However, if the subfloor has only minor imperfections, a good quality underlay will provide the stability the wood floor needs, and this will also extend the life of the floor.

Noise reduction

Wood does not absorb sound. People walking on wood floors create noise that can disturb people in adjacent rooms or areas underneath wood floors. An underlay with acoustic properties will significantly reduce this noise, creating quieter spaces.


A good quality underlay keeps damp and cold away from the wood floors. This makes the floor feel warmer so that people can choose not to wear footwear when walking on the floor.

Underlay reduces the amount of heat escaping through the floor and this can save on energy bills, as well as keeping your feet warm.

If there is an underfloor heating system, it is essential to have underlay under a hardwood floor.

Moisture resistance in Wrexham, Chester and North Wales

An underlay with a vapour barrier keeps moisture rising from the subfloor affecting the wood. Under prolonged damp conditions, wood can warp. This is particularly important if the subfloor is concrete which is subject to damp.

The Wrexham, Chester and North Wales region has a high annual rainfall. People coming from outside with muddy shoes and wet clothes will make a wood floor damp. This is not a problem as long as any moisture is wiped up promptly.


Underlay can provide a cushioning effect that makes the wood floor feel more comfortable when walking on it. Cushioning means that when you walk on the floor, there is less impact on the subfloor. This protects the wood floor to make it last longer.

Getting the right underlay

The are several types of underlay available. A hardwood flooring supplier and the installer will recommend the best one suitable for the type of subfloor. Concrete floors will need an underlay with a moisture barrier, or a damp-proof membrane. Wood subfloors will require underlay suitable for the type of wood, or engineered wood planks being used.

These are some of the reasons why it makes sense to spend extra for underlay when installing hardwood flooring in Chester, Wrexham and North Wales rooms.