Plywood Underlayment – Why it’s the best choice under your new finished floor:
September 3rd, 2014
Those who like to do their own home improvements (known as Do-It-Yourselfers) will know that the flooring you see in your home is not the only layer of the entire flooring installation. The decorative flooring layer you see and walk on is only the upper most surface. Underneath there is another flooring layer known as underlayment. Underlayment is the layer between the structural sub-floor and the finished floor. It is intended as a way to isolate the room from noise, give resistance, and provide a nice, smooth surface for your finished flooring. In terms of materials used, most often this layer is a plywood underlayment.
Why use plywood?
Plywood underlayment is used most often for a number of reasons. Plywood underlayment is more resistant to temperature changes and is a good insulator. The price of plywood makes it very affordable. The leading major vinyl manufacturers recommend the use of a quality premium plywood underlayment with their flooring products.
Where can one purchase plywood underlayment?
Because plywood underlayment is not a common household amenity it will need to be purchased from a home improvement store. Home improvement stores keep plywood underlayment in stock for those do-it-yourself homeowners. In many instances, homeowners will hire a flooring contractor or installer to handle the plywood underlayment installation. This means that you will not purchase the plywood underlayment yourself; you will simply have to know about it and request that it is installed underneath the finished flooring (carpet, vinyl, engineered wood floors etc.). In regards to pricing, you can expect to pay 20 percent, or sometimes more, for flooring that comes fitted with underlayment.
The advantages of using plywood underlayment:
In a home where plywood underlayment is installed underneath the finished flooring, there is a better chance of avoiding massive changes in temperature. The upper surface will be much more resistant to temperature changes and the construction itself is more resilient over time. A typical plywood underlayment is sometimes confused with the structural subfloor of a home since both are constructed of wood material. If you plan any repairs or maintenance work to your floor(s), make sure to distinguish between the two layers. They serve different purposes and are constructed differently (different types of plywood materials are used in each and the thicknesses vary). The subfloor is usually ¾” thick and is used for structural integrity of the home. Plywood underlayment is usually ¼” thick and is the smooth working surface used to attach the finished floor.
How to maintain plywood underlayment:
Water damage in the form of flooding is the main thing you want to avoid. Plywood underlayment, even when treated, will only be able to withstand so much water and it certainly is not meant for prolonged exposure to water. As long as it is dry and well protected against moisture and other elements that can damage the plywood underlayment (such as insects), it will maintain its properties and is good for prolonged use. Many plywood underlayments on the market come with warranty periods anywhere from 1 year to Lifetime.