To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Best laminate underlay 2024: Foam and fibreboard for under your floor

Make sure your laminate floor looks fantastic for years to come by adding a hard-working underlay

It’s no surprise that laminate flooring is hugely popular, as it’s cost-effective, hard-wearing and available in a range of designs suitable for almost every room of your home. However, as with carpet, a suitable underlay is a must if you want to help your floor last longer, and look and perform better once it’s laid. Without it, there’s more pressure on the joins between the laminate planks, and more chance of moisture from the sub-floor reaching the planks and causing damage. It will usually be noisier when you walk on it, too.

While some planks come with built-in underlay, a good laminate underlay is worth the investment for those that don’t. It will increase your initial costs, but as well as adding years to the life of your floor, it will also insulate it, so you’ll spend less on heating. We’ve selected the best laminate underlay you can buy for your budget, as well as highlighting the features you should look for. Below, you’ll find our buying guide to help you choose the best laminate underlay, or you can scroll on for our top picks.

Best laminate underlay: At a glance

  • Best laminate underlay for less noise: Duralay | Buy now
  • Best laminate underlay with damp protection: UK Flooring Direct | Buy now
  • Best budget laminate underlay: B&Q | Buy now
  • Best eco-friendly laminate underlay: Wickes Wood Fibre | Buy now

How to choose the best laminate underlay for you

What types of laminate underlay are there?

Several different materials are used to make laminate underlay, ranging from basic foam and sponge rubber to high-density foam and fibreboard. What can make more of a difference is the construction of the underlay and any additional properties that help it to soundproof, protect against damp and, in some cases, be compatible with underfloor heating. You can also find an underlay that smooths out irregularities in your sub-floor or existing floor.

READ NEXT: Are solar panels worth it?

The type you choose can be dictated by the room in which the floor will be fitted. For example, in an attic or guest bedroom, where footfall will be lower and the chance of damp minimal, a basic foam underlay can suffice. On the other hand, if it’s a high-traffic area, such as a living room or kitchen, a thicker product, or one that helps to soundproof, will be the best choice.

Even some of the most advanced underlays are relatively inexpensive but, if you’re on a budget, a basic underlay starts at around £2-£3 per square metre. Soundproofing and insulating products can cost more than double, at around £5-£10 per square metre.

Which features should I look for?

The laminate flooring you buy may recommend a compatible underlay (or one that meets warranty requirements) but if not, or you’re shopping around, work out the properties you need it to have.

Underlay can have a tog rating, like a duvet. This relates to how well it insulates, or its thermal resistance. The higher the tog, the more suitable it will be for an unheated cold floor. Lower tog ratings often indicate that the underlay will be compatible with underfloor heating, when you want the heat to pass through the underlay, rather than be trapped by it. Sometimes, it will display an R value instead. This is also a measure of its thermal resistance, and the same logic applies: the higher the value, the more it will insulate.

If the underlay has been designed to soundproof, it should also indicate how many decibels it aims to reduce. Most of the time, the figure indicates impact sound reduction, which is the sound heard in rooms below, or by your neighbours. If you want to reduce reflection sound (the noise you hear when you walk on the floor), look for a specialist product that will tackle this as well.

READ NEXT: Find a style to suit with our pick of the best kitchen flooring

The best laminate underlay to buy in 2024

1. Wickes Wood Fibre Laminate & Wood Flooring Underlay: The best eco-friendly laminate underlay

Price: £2.19 per m², £22 per pack | Buy now from Wickes

If you’re looking for an alternative to foam underlay, fibreboard is an excellent option, which is good at both deadening sound in high traffic rooms and adding insulation. This underlay is also an eco choice, as it’s made from 100% wood fibre that’s sustainable and recyclable, and constructed without glue or resin. It’s easy to install: you cut the pieces with a DIY knife and use foil tape to hold them together, which stops them shifting when the floor is in place. It also has a high compressive strength. This means it can be laid onto concrete subfloors as well as timber, be used with click system laminate, and can take the weight of heavy furniture.

There are a couple of things to bear in mind, though. One is that it doesn’t have built-in damp protection, so you’ll need to budget for a vapour barrier. The other is that the fibreboard can be a bit crumbly, so handle it with care until it’s horizontal on the floor.

Key specs – Size (per piece): 59 x 85 x 0.5cm (WDH); UFH-compatible: Check with UFH provider; Damp protection: No; Tog rating: 0.7

Buy now from Wickes

2. Diall 2mm Foam Laminate & solid wood flooring Underlay panels: The best laminate underlay on a budget

Price: £1.05 per m², £21 per pack | Buy now from B&Q

Not every room needs heavy-duty padding. So, if you’re installing a floor on a tight budget, this low-cost foam should fit the bill. It can be used alongside underfloor heating and will help to smooth out subfloor unevenness by up to 1mm. Plus, as it comes on a roll, it’s extremely simple to fit. Admittedly, it’s thin, so is better suited to rooms that aren’t used as frequently, such as bedrooms or lofts, rather than your living room.

Even as an economy product, it’s a far better option than using no underlay at all. Once down, the 2mm foam offers soundproofing of around 19dB, impact resistance, mould and mildew resistance, and improved comfort underfoot when walking around.

Key specs – Roll size: 100 x 2,000 x 0.2cm (WDH); UFH-compatible: Yes; Damp protection: Yes; Tog rating: 0.6

Buy now from B&Q

3. Cushion Ultra Silver Wood 10m² Underlay: The best laminate underlay for damp protection

Price: £4.29 per m², £42.90 per pack | Buy now from UK Flooring Direct

For an excellent balance of cushioning and keeping moisture at bay, look no further than this 3mm-thick high-density foam. It comes complete with a vapour barrier, so there’s no need to lay additional damp proofing, and it will reduce impact sound by up to 19dB. Plus, as it’s a cushioned product, it can help to make your floor more level by smoothing out small lumps and bumps, which is ideal for concrete subfloors. It comes on a metre-wide roll, making it easy to install across larger areas. Just tape lengths together for a speedy fit.

The other big plus is that it’s underfloor heating-compatible, despite being slightly thicker than some alternatives. It’s worth noting that its moisture protection only goes so far, though: it’s not suitable for bathrooms, although you can install it in a kitchen.

Key specs – Roll size: 100 x 1,000 x 0.3cm (WDH); UFH-compatible: Yes; Damp protection: Yes; Tog rating: 0.8

Buy now from UK Flooring Direct

4. Quick-Step Thermolevel: The best laminate underlay for insulating your home

Price: £8.31 per m², £74.79 per pack | Buy now from Quick-Step

Rooms prone to cold or rising damp need a laminate underlay that’s up to the job. Thermolevel is one such underlay. It’s made with an integrated vapour barrier so there’s no need for extra damp proofing; once the seams are sealed, your new laminate flooring will be perfectly protected. Plus, as Thermolevel preserves heat, it will keep the space toasty warm, too.

Where this underlay really comes into its own though, is on uneven floors. It can smooth out bumps on the subfloor by up to 4mm, making it ideal for laying over tiles or a base that’s far from level. It’s also designed to be easy to fit, thanks to a self-adhesive strip and damp-proof flap, as well as a smooth surface that means click-together laminate can be installed on top without parts of the underlay getting stuck between the joints. It’s a great investment if you’re not fitting underfloor heating.

Key specs – Roll size: 120 x 750 x 0.5cm (WDH); UFH-compatible: No; Damp protection: Yes; Tog rating: 1.4

Buy now from Quick-Step

5. Duralay Timbermate Excel Laminate and Wood Underlay 10sqm: The best laminate underlay for less noise

Price: £4.69 per m², £46.93 per pack | Buy now from Amazon

Installing laminate flooring in overhead rooms can mean that the noise of footsteps and more travels into the spaces below. So, if you’re thinking of adding it to bedrooms – especially kids’ bedrooms – you’ll need to add a good sound-proofing underlay. Made from high-density sponge rubber with a built-in vapour barrier, Duralay’s Timbermate Excel underlay is ideal. It will reduce sound by up to 23dB – or around 30% – so little ones can thunder around as much as they please.

Besides bringing peace to your home, it boasts plenty of other handy features. It’s antimicrobial and mildew-resistant, masks an uneven sub-floor, and can be completely recycled at the end of its life. The roll is quite weighty at 38.3kg, so if you’re installing it upstairs or in a loft, you might need a second pair of hands to get it in place.

Key specs – Roll size: 68.5 x 1,460 x 0.36cm (WDH); UFH-compatible: Yes (not mats on top of subfloor); Damp protection: Yes; Tog rating: 0.55

6. Royale Sonic Gold 5mm Comfort Underlay for Laminate or Wood Flooring 15m2: The best good-value laminate underlay

Price: £1.96 per sq m, £29.50 per pack | Buy now from Amazon

Lightweight, so it’s easier to lay as a DIY job, this 5mm-thick Royale Sonic Gold underlay is a good one to choose if you’re looking to make your laminate flooring budget go a bit further. It’ll reduce noise by up to 22dB, so it’s handy for upstairs rooms, and it can help to smooth out uneven subfloors.

However, it’s worth noting that although it has damp-proofing built in, you’ll still need tape to join seams together for a truly damp-proof finish. The manufacturer recommends its Royale Barrier Pro X Tape which, at £9.95 a roll, bumps up the overall cost, but will cover up to 20 sq m of underlay. Other pluses of Royale Sonic Gold are that because it’s thicker than some alternatives and made from high-density PE foam, is comfy underfoot, and, at the end of its life, can be completely recycled.

Key specs – Roll size: 100 x 1500 x 0.5cm (WDH); UFH-compatible: Yes; Damp protection: Yes; Tog rating: 0.9

Read more

Best Buys