Definition - What does Underlayment mean?

Underlayment is a water-resistant or waterproof thin sheet or layer used beneath commercial roofing materials or placed underneath other flooring materials. It absorbs the roughness or imperfections of the underlying floor. When installed on top of a hard surface it gives the flooring material extra support and smoothness.

Underlayment is made from hardwood, laminate, wool, rubber carpet pads, bamboo and vinyl sheet.

Corrosionpedia explains Underlayment

Underlayment is a material used below other flooring materials. Underlayment helps to dampen sound, protect floors from harmful moisture and provide thermal insulation.

Underlayment possesses some characteristics that make them especially suitable:

  • Higher compressive, tensile and flexural strength compared to regular sand/cement mixes.
  • Allows quick installation of a subsequent lining system on repaired concrete.
  • Moisture tolerant.
  • Withstands high temperatures and thermal cycling.
  • Exhibits excellent chemical, abrasion and impact resistance. It also exhibits excellent physical properties and adhesion.

These properties also make underlayment suitable for use in wet areas that are difficult to keep dry.

Underlayment is not the same as subfloors. An underlayment stays between the structural subfloor of the actual foundation and the flooring material. Conversely, a subfloor is used for structural or foundational support. Therefore, correct selection and installation of underlayment and subfloors is crucial for any floor.

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