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The Pros and Cons of Using Felt Underlayment Under Hardwood Floors

The Pros and Cons of Using Felt Underlayment Under Hardwood Floors

Installing new hardwood floors in a residential or commercial property is a task best left to professionals who have the expertise and experience required to ensure proper installation. To ensure the integrity, stability, and durability of hardwood floors, it’s crucial that no essential step is skipped in the installation process, because improper installation can lead to long-term damage of a client’s new hardwood floors. Unfortunately, many homeowners who choose to go the DIY route fail to follow all the necessary steps to ensure that their hardwood floors will last for decades without failing. One of the steps that is often overlooked in DIY projects is the installation of an underlayment

The underlayment is essentially an added layer of protection placed between the hardwood floor and the subfloor. It can significantly extend the durability of the wood planks, and increase stability, waterproofing, soundproofing, and provide a flat, stable surface with no gaps or air pockets. Underlayment can be made of felt, cork, rubber, or foam, and the choice will depend on the type of hardwood, the type of installation, and the material of the subfloor. It’s always recommended to consult with an expert in hardwood flooring to decide which subfloor and underlayment to choose, even in the case of DIY projects. Decisions like these can make or break the durability and integrity of the hardwood floors in the long run. 

Is felt a good choice for hardwood flooring underlayment? 

Felt can be an adequate choice to use under hardwood flooring, in certain situations. Sometimes cork, rubber, or foam might be more suitable alternatives, depending on the features of the project. 

The pros of felt underlayment under hardwood floors

Felt underlayment acts as a solid moisture barrier, preventing water from or moisture from a concrete or wood subfloor to reach the hardwood flooring and cause damage. This is a critical aspect to consider when it comes to damp, high-humidity areas like basements, kitchens, and other areas prone to moisture intrusion or water infiltration. In these situations, felt is a solid option that can add extra protection to the hardwood floor against water damage. 

Felt is also a good option if the client is looking to soundproof the space through the hardwood flooring. Choosing a felt underlayment can help reduce noise transmission between floors, and it can act like a sound buffer, drowning out sounds from other floors or adjacent rooms. That’s why felt is a good option when it comes to installing hardwood floors in commercial buildings where there is constant noise and high traffic. 

Another advantage of felt underlayment is that it can help smooth out minor irregularities in the subfloor, creating an even, flat surface for the hardwood planks to be installed on. In the end, the felt underlayment will help create a stable surface and ensure that the hardwood floors are even and level, avoiding bends and dents in the long run. 

Lastly, felt underlayment can also provide thermal insulation, keeping the floor warm in colder climates or keeping it cool in hot climates. However, the impact is minor, so the client shouldn’t expect a significant difference; however, it can be an added bonus. 

The cons of felt underlayment under hardwood floors

The good part is that felt underlayment provides several advantages and is also compatible with most types of subfloors for hardwood floor types, including solid hardwood and engineered hardwood. However, there are also factors to consider when deciding between felt underlayment and other types available. 

Both DIY clients and hardwood flooring professionals should always check the warranty requirements of the hardwood floor before installation, as some manufacturers have specific recommendations or requirements when it comes to the type of underlayment used. It’s always a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure that the warranty is maintained and the hardwood floor is properly installed. 

Another thing to consider is that felt underlayment provides protection against moisture, but it’s not waterproof. In cases where moisture is a significant, major issue, it’s best to address the problem before installing any type of flooring or underlayment, because the problem will persist and the felt underlayment will not provide protection against severe moisture problems. 

Last but not least, you should always have height considerations in mind when deciding to install any type of flooring underlayment. While felt underlayment is relatively thin, you should always consider the impact on door clearance, transitions to other areas or spaces, and the thickness of the hardwood floor itself. That’s why it’s essential to work with a flooring specialist who knows how to assess these potential issues and ensure proper installation of the underlayment and the hardwood floor. 

Felt underlayment is a solid option when it comes to hardwood flooring, providing crucial benefits like soundproofing, water protection, and a flat, smooth, even surface. However, one should always consult the manufacturer’s recommendations and work with a qualified expert to make the right decision for a specific project. 


For more information on underlayments or the products in our shop, contact First Atlanta Flooring and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!