can i use carpet underlay for laminate flooring

Can I Use Carpet Underlay For Laminate Flooring?

Can I use carpet underlay for laminate flooring? It’s definitely tempting to use carpet underlayment for laminate flooring. It’s thicker and thus would probably feel more comfortable to walk on. But although possible, comfort is not the only concern when it comes to the underlayment. Carpet is usually too thick and bouncy to use as underlay for laminate flooring. Ideally, you want an underlay that is only between 3mm and 5mm thick. This will provide stable support and leveling properties for laminate floors. In today’s guide, I’ll look at the importance of underlays for laminate floors, the problems with carpet, and some better options to consider.


Can I Use Carpet Underlayment for Laminate Floors?

The floor underlay acts like a barrier between your subfloor and the top floor finish. It keeps moisture out, provides thermal insulation, reduces acoustic noise, and promotes an even surface.

Carpet underlays are thick and bouncy and could get even more so depending on the type. The thicker the carpet padding, the more unreliable it will be to carry and hold the floor laminates in place. On average, carpet underlay thickness for residential applications ranges between 7mm and 11mm. And, as we know, your ideal underlay should be between 3mm and 5mm.

Laminate floors also utilize a locking system that might fail when there’s too much cushion. Worse, the planks could break with sudden, strong blows. So, carpet is not an ideal underlay for laminate flooring. But, there are plenty of other materials you can consider instead.

Choosing the Best Underlayment for Laminate Flooring

There are different types of underlayment for every kind of flooring. For laminate floors, your options include:

  • Rubber
  • Cork
  • Foam
  • Felt

Some laminate planks come ready with cushioning. Unless this is the case, you need to get the right underlay for your needs. In addition to density, moisture resistance, comfort, sound transmission, and cost, you must consider the type of subfloor when choosing your underlayment.

Underlays for Concrete Subfloor

Concrete subfloors absorb moisture which is why you must work on this aspect first using a vapor barrier. If not using a foil underlay alone, install it with the foil side facing the subfloor and a polyfoam over it. Polyfoam is a versatile option for its soundproofing and insulation properties. It is also cheaper and easy to install.

can i use carpet underlay for laminate flooring

Underlays for Wooden Subfloor

Wooden subfloors need underlays that focus more on thermal and sound insulation. You might not need a separate vapor barrier for wooden subfloors though if moisture problems don’t exist. Wood somehow needs to breathe.

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, there are high levels of formaldehyde in most new constructions that use manufactured wood like plywood and laminate flooring. The least you can do is not trap the toxic fumes with a vapor barrier. There are more choices for you if you have a wooden subfloor but you need a special underlay if you are using an underfloor heating system.

Can You Reuse Old Underlayment for Laminate Flooring?

You can reuse old underlayment for laminate flooring if it is still in perfect condition. An underlay becomes compressed over time, losing its efficiency. Make sure there are no signs of damage and that the underlay is suitable for laminate flooring, but otherwise, you need to replace it.

You barely need any tools to remove old underlay unless you can’t remove portions of it by hand. To remove, simply pull up the underlay from one corner and keep going until the floor is completely cleared. You may use a scraper to get rid of glue residue or leftover underlay pieces.

How to Install Laminate Flooring Underlayment

It doesn’t matter which type of underlayment you’ll use as most types follow the same procedures for installation. The most common though is the foam underlay. First, here are the tools that you will need:

  • Foam underlayment
  • Sticky tape
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Screwdriver
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Cutter
  • Broom/vacuum

Begin by removing the existing underlayment. Then follow the steps below to install a new foam underlay.

Step 1: Prepare the Subfloor

Clean the subfloor with a broom or vacuum. Then, inspect the integrity of the subfloor against water damage, mold, uneven surfaces, and sags.

Step 2: Repair the Issues

The subfloor must be flat and in good condition. Improve support around the joints to fix sags. Remove protruding screws and flatten uneven surfaces with a filler. Furthermore, you need to get rid of water damage. The subfloor should be at least 14 percent dry or the underlay is at risk of expanding and buckling.

Step 3: Lay Out the Underlay One Section at a Time

Work by section to easily spot mistakes. Start from the left side going to the right or vice versa. Lay out the padding with the film facing the subfloor but avoid overlapping the underlays. Use tape to attach the pads and secure the edges.

Step 4: Install the Flooring

Follow the direction of the underlay when installing the laminate planks. Avoid gaps between the planks or they could easily separate with movement. Additionally, allow a 10mm expansion gap around the edges to avoid damage when humidity and temperature change. To fit a laminate plank at the edges, you may trim it using a hacksaw. Continue until all areas are covered.

Can I Install Laminate Flooring Without Underlay?

It is best to install underlayment for laminate flooring to protect both the subfloor and the top floor from rubbing against each other. The friction will damage the materials sooner than expected. Using an underlay will also help correct uneven flooring that is otherwise unpleasant to the eyes. Laminate flooring with underlay is also quieter, more comfortable to walk on, and lasts longer.

Can I Use Carpet Underlay for Laminate Flooring?

It will do more harm than good to use carpet underlayment for laminate flooring. You should use the recommended laminate underlay which is thinner and denser to improve the overall performance of the floor. There are different types of laminate underlays, but it helps to consider the type of subfloor when making a choice. Which underlay have you decided to use?

Learn More About Laminate!


  • Milne, G., ‘Noise Control’, Australian Government (2013)
  • ‘Formaldehyde in Your Home: What You Need to Know’, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (2016)
  • Eckelman, C., ‘The Shrinking and Swelling of Wood and its Effect on Furniture’, Forestry and Natural Resources

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