The 8 Best Floor Underlayments of 2019

Set the right foundation for your new floors

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: FloorLot Blue Laminate Flooring Underlayment with Attached Vapor Barrier at Amazon

"FloorLot’s underlayment is ideal for use under laminate or engineered floors."

Best with Moisture Barrier: DMX 1-Step Air Gap Underlayment at Home Depot

"Provides a 100-percent waterproof floor underlayment that will give you peace of mind and plenty of cushion underfoot."

Best for Laminate: Roberts AirGuard 5-in-1 Floor Underlayment at Home Depot

"To keep moisture and mold away, this underlayment is treated with Microban and includes AirGuard technology to promote airflow."

Best for Noise Reduction: QuietWalk Underlayment at Amazon

"The XL’s rubber structure forms a grid pattern that keeps weight down while still providing the rigidity necessary for tiled surfaces."

Best Cork: QEP Cork Underlayment Roll at Walmart

"This natural cork underlayment has a thickness of .25-inch and is an ideal option for tile, hardwood, and laminate floors."

Best for Hardwood Floors: Fortifiber Aquabar "B" Tile Underlayment Roll at Home Depot

"This underlayment for hardwood floors is more tear-resistant and durable, according to users."

Best for Tile: Schluter Ditra Underlayment at Amazon

"The construction of this multi-layer tile underlayment provides an ideal uncoupling layer to allow for in-plane movement."

Best Budget: TrafficMASTER Standard Floor Underlayment at Home Depot

"Costs less than .30 cents per square foot while providing adequate protection for your laminate or engineered flooring."

  • 01 of 08

    Best Overall: FloorLot Blue Laminate Flooring Underlayment with Attached Vapor Barrier

    For a floor underlayment that provides cushion and includes an attached vapor barrier, check out the popular 3mm option from FloorLot. Each roll covers 200 square feet and is easy to install, according to reviewers.

    FloorLot’s underlayment is ideal for use under laminate or engineered floors. One of the most loved features about this product is the attached adhesive strip that makes quick work of seam sealing and installation. Instead of buying a separate adhesive, just peel and stick the built-in tape strips. While this underlayment doesn’t have pre-printed grid lines to help you during installation, most people don’t find this to be a deal breaker. Once installed, reviewers say it provides plenty of cushion and reduces flooring squeaks and creaks.

  • 02 of 08

    Best with Moisture Barrier: DMX 1-Step Air Gap Underlayment

    floor underlayment

    DMX 1-step

    Moisture is a major concern when installing flooring, especially in areas prone to dampness, like basements and bathrooms. The DMX 1-Step Air Gap Underlayment provides a 100-percent waterproof floor underlayment that will give you peace of mind and plenty of cushion underfoot. 

    This floor underlayment with moisture barrier is pricey but protective, with plenty of satisfied users. It features a dimpled surface that offers excellent sound absorption without hindering evaporation of moisture. Joining tape is included with each roll to make installation seamless. Unlike other underlayment products, you can use it with confidence over concrete surfaces without needing to first perform a calcium chloride test the slab. 

    Reviewers frequently state how simple it was to install this floor underlayment and how incredibly cushioned the floor feels. One person also tested the moisture management abilities of this product when a pipe backed up and water ran under the flooring, with no ill effects thanks to its evaporative properties.

  • 03 of 08

    Best for Laminate: Roberts AirGuard 5-in-1 Floor Underlayment

    Underlayment

    Roberts

    Laminate flooring includes a fiberboard core that must be protected from moisture, otherwise swelling and mold can wreak havoc on your flooring. The AirGuard 5-in-1 Floor Underlayment is an ideal option if you’re shopping for floor underlayment for laminate.

    To keep moisture and mold away, this underlayment is treated with Microban and includes AirGuard technology to promote airflow with embedded polyshims that prevent compression and allow moisture vapor to escape. Most people also notice that their flooring is quieter with the use of AirGuard underlayment, since the STC rating is 67 and IIC is 68—which are both good scores for laminate underlayment. 

    Reviewers have found that this underlayment is durable and simple to install, thanks to self-adhesive 4-inch overlapping strips. The only gripe is that when cutting to size, the product sheds a small quantity of Styrofoam beads from the cushion layer. Despite the inconvenience of cleaning up this fallout, people consistently comment on the easy installation process. 

    Make sure your new flooring stays clean with these top laminate floor cleaners.

  • 04 of 08

    Best for Noise Reduction: QuietWalk Underlayment

    Unlike hardwood floors where a bit of flexibility is desired, tile surfaces need rigidity. The combination of tiles and grout would break up over time with a flexible underlay. Therefore, denser, more solid materials like Schluter-Ditra XL’s rubber underlay are the best choice for providing a solid foundation to keep the floor protected.

    The XL’s rubber structure forms a grid pattern that keeps weight down while still providing the rigidity necessary for tiled surfaces. This will prevent the surface from deforming or cracking after extended use. Each roll provides 175 square feet of coverage and comes with a layer of vapor management to keep moisture from getting trapped underneath the tile surface.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Best Cork: QEP Cork Underlayment Roll

    QEP 200 sq. ft. 1/4 in. Cork Underlayment Roll
    Courtesy of Home Depot

    Cork floor underlayment does a great job dampening sound. It also makes the floor noticeably more cushioned when compared to flooring involved over bare subfloor. A popular option if you want to install this eco-friendly floor underlayment is QEP Cork Underlayment Roll. 

    This natural cork underlayment has a thickness of .25-inch and is an ideal option for tile, hardwood, and laminate floors. In addition to repelling pests, cork also can help to reduce the incidence of stress cracks in your flooring. Just be sure to let the underlayment adjust to your home’s humidity levels before installing, according to one installer. 

    While installing the cork underlayment is straightforward, users recommend that you handle it carefully to avoid tearing it. It also must be used with a moisture barrier if it’s being installed in a room where moisture is a concern. While it’s pricey when compared to other underlayment options—a 200 square foot roll costs over $100—it’s an eco-friendly, hypoallergenic material with plenty of perks.

  • 06 of 08

    Best for Hardwood Floors: Fortifiber Aquabar "B" Tile Underlayment Roll

    underlayment

    Fortifiber

    When installing hardwood, choose a floor underlayment that provides a smooth surface over the subfloor. While Rosin and tar paper are common options, Aquabar “B” underlayment from Fortifiber is a top option. This underlayment for hardwood floors is more tear-resistant and durable, according to users. 

    Aquabar “B” is constructed of two layers of Kraft paper with asphalt in between and is considered a “must use” according to reviewers. It has low permeability to protect your hardwood from moisture and can be used in place of a plastic vapor barrier. People find it to be cleaner than using tar paper and more tear-resistant than Rosin paper. 

  • 07 of 08

    Best for Tile: Schluter Ditra Underlayment

    When installing hard surface flooring, you want a cushioned underlayment for tile that will provide adequate protection. Schluter Ditra Underlayment uses a unique grid structure backed by a fleece underside. 

    The construction of this multi-layer tile underlayment provides an ideal uncoupling layer to allow for in-plane movement, while including a waterproofing membrane and a vapor barrier. You’ll need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation, while being sure to use plenty of thin set mortar—more than expected, according to one reviewer. Plenty of users find this tile underlayment to be a solid option. It’s lightweight and cuts easily for precise installation. 

    Check out the top options for tile cleaners that will keep your new flooring in tip-top shop.

  • 08 of 08

    Best Budget: TrafficMASTER Standard Floor Underlayment

    TrafficMASTER Standard Floor Underlayment

     TrafficMASTER 

    Trim expenses without cutting corners by choosing a budget floor underlayment. TrafficMASTER is one of the leading names in floor coverings and their standard underlayment costs less than .30 cents per square foot while providing adequate protection for your laminate or engineered flooring.

    This is a 2-in-1 floor underlayment that provides cushion along with a moisture barrier. It’s only 2mm thick, which is less than some cushier options on the market. However, users find the quality to be suitable at this low price point. The most common complaint is that the center of the rolls is wound so tight that this part of the underlayment must be flattened prior to installation. 

    While this budget underlayment includes tape strips to secure the underlayment during installation, some people found the adhesive to be subpar. You may need to use additional tape for a more efficient and long-lasting bond. 

Our Process

Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular floor underlayments on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 16 different floor underlayments overall, screened options from 23 different brands and manufacturers, and read over 150 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.