Like most floors you can install, hardwood flooring has subfloor materials usually installed below it. Especially if you are trying to dampen sound, you may wonder, what kind of padding to add under a wood floor? There are so many questions during a remodel, like how to save money, and what steps you can or should take when installing a subfloor.
When it comes to the underlayment, you won’t be able to add thick padding like you would for carpet. Nor can you use the same types of padding under solid hardwood as you would for engineered wood or wood laminate flooring. However, there are types of padding, and purposes for them, that you can use. Let’s dig in.
The Many Layers of Hardwood Flooring
Let’s talk about what forms of underlayment you use when installing hardwood floors. Below, we’ll cover the four most common subfloor options chosen by pros who install engineered wood floors.
If you are installing wood laminate or engineered wood, you will have different options, these are for composite wood floor.
Read more on our comparison guide: Laminate Flooring vs. Engineered Wood Flooring
Solid Underlayment Flooring
There are non-padded sound dampening underlayment options for your engineered wood floor, often called acoustic flooring. This type of subfloor sound control is not soft but has the same effect in reducing noise.
Thick Underlayment With Intervening Plywood
If you must use a thick padded style underlayment, it is possible, but you must layer it with plywood between the padding and solid hardwood. Otherwise, the padding makes your flooring unstable and may cause nailed floors to loosen and interlocking planks to break down.
To do it, you use a dimpled underlayment directly on a solid subfloor such as concrete, then add 5/8ths plywood that you will then install the wood floor over.
You can use a thin, rubberized membrane directly below the solid hardwood floors but over the plywood, subflooring to help dampen sound. This membrane is thin, usually about 90 mils, or about one-tenth of an inch.
This type of sound dampening material is prevalent; it is used under many types of flooring, from some types of tile to laminate, all the way to composite wood floor like yours.
Builder’s Felt or Red Rosin Paper
Builders felt, or red rosin paper, are also widely used but somewhat ineffective at sound control. They’re last on our list because they are worst at sound dampening but often used because they prevent your wood floor from squeaking as it rubs against the subfloor.
These are also the most inexpensive option for padding below a manufactured wood floor that can help reduce noise. However, while these thin paper or felt layers can lower the probability of squeaks, they don’t, in any way, prevent sound transmission.
Getting to the Bottom of Your Hardwood Subflooring
Now you know all you need to know about whether you can add padding under a wood floor. There are types of sound controlling underlayments you can use, but you shouldn’t pad a wood floor.