Cheap does not necessarily mean inferior – at least in case of underlays under laminates such statement is true. What to put under PVC panels, for example, in order not to pay large sums of money, but at the same time to enjoy a beautiful and functional floor for a long time?
Why lay underlay under laminate?
Each type of floor panels requires an intermediate layer between the surface of the panel and the substrate. Of course, we can choose between cork, polyethylene, corrugated cardboard and other types of underlay, but making such a layer is necessary because:
- it is necessary to protect the panel from moisture,
- thermal insulation is very important,
- it is also important to protect the panel from mechanical damage
In the case of the last point it is worth adding that it is the soft underlay that has to relieve stress, dampen friction and protect the panel from much faster wear and tear. The panels should be able to work freely
What will be the best underlay for the panels?
Undoubtedly, an important factor is the price of the underlay, which should not constitute a cost that is a large percentage of what we paid for the floor covering itself. It is also worth paying attention to whether the floor surface is even or not. The appearance of unevenness requires the use of a thicker underlay, which will be able to help us to lay the panels without significant defects
Still other important parameters to pay attention to when choosing an underlay are the level of sound insulation it provides, its functioning on underfloor heating and its resistance to loads. The latter counts especially in frequently used rooms such as corridors and hallways.
Types of cheap underlays under laminates and their characteristics
Which cheap underlays for panels are worth choosing and what are their most important features? Very good, but expensive polyurethane-mineral underlays must be rejected. It is rightly believed that this is a product from a “higher shelf”, unfortunately, but also in terms of price. Quartz primer will also be too expensive. Instead, we can choose from both natural and artificial materials
Underlay made of extruded polystyrene XPS
The only artificial material for making underlays for panels, which can be used in case of underfloor heating. It is not sensitive to moisture. The level of noise dampening by such an underlay is satisfactory.
Underlay made of PEHD polyethylene
It enjoys a better reputation than ordinary foam. Its greater thickness allows it to be laid on uneven floors. Better underlays of this type can be up to 8 mm thick.
Cheap and common material to make an underlay for panels. However, it is not very durable, its level of thermal and acoustic insulation is average at best
The cheapest material that is recommended for underfloor heating. It can only be laid on a level surface. Other weak points are the low level of vibration damping and the fact that it is not resistant to moisture
A relatively cheap and thick underlay of natural origin. Suitable for laying on uneven floors. Quite good noise insulation, but difficult to install. You have to be careful to leave expansion joints, use vapour barriers and make sure that joints between panels and boards do not fall in the same places.
With a price of about 8 or 9 PLN per m2 this type of underlay is on the borderline of cheap. What are its advantages? First of all, cork is a natural material. It is valued for its acoustic insulation parameters. If we cover the space under the panels with it, we will surely get rid of unpleasant rumbling noises. Cork underlay also conducts heat quite poorly, so it will be more difficult to cool the room through the floor. What are its disadvantages? It deteriorates fairly quickly in the areas we use most. It is also thin, and therefore will only do well on an extremely even floor.