In the repair of the apartment flooring plays an important role. The comfort of living in the house depends on a correct choice and quality of laying of material. Laminate has many advantages, it boasts an affordable price, which makes it the undisputed leader among flooring. However, poor-quality substrate can negate all the advantages of even the most expensive panels. In this article we will consider which substrate for laminate is better and why.
The main functions of the substrate under the laminate
The house is the place where you want to relax after a hard day’s work, to feel peace and tranquility. But how to do it, if extraneous sounds interfere all the time to rest? Surrounded by neighbors on all sides, we have to endure certain inconveniences. However, this problem has a solution associated with laying an additional layer under the floor covering. We will try to figure out what functions the substrate performs under the laminate, which one to choose and how to lay it correctly?
When walking through the apartment, the sound of steps is given loudly enough. This can be a nuisance to you and your neighbors. Such poor sound insulation is associated with two characteristics of the laminate: the thickness of the panel and the method of its installation.
The standard thickness of the laminated board is 8 mm. And this is not much at all, considering what load it has to withstand. In this case, the laying method is mainly used floating, which creates an additional membrane for sound transmission. However, this problem can be solved by laying an additional substrate, which has good sound insulation.
Waterproofing the floor in the apartment before the screed: types and details of installation. Types of waterproofing materials used under the screed: roll, liquid, dry and penetrating the mixture. Tips for self-improvement.
Many manufacturers provide laminate substrate, sticking it on the back of each board. However, such a convenient supplement is found mainly in class 32 and 33 covers. The thickness of the laminate with the substrate is greater, respectively, and the price of such a product is much higher. Therefore, the decision to lay the substrate with your own hands is a good way not to overpay. It will be much better to choose and purchase the substrate that best suits your characteristics.
Helpful advice! Pay attention to the labeling of the substrate purchased. It is on the packaging manufacturer indicates all the characteristics of the material.
Another important function that the substrate performs is smoothing the irregularities that are present on the screed used under the floor covering. Unfortunately, no matter how you try to level the floor to the ideal state, small drops will still remain. But even such modest deviations in a few months can negatively affect the laminate.
Any deviations and differences of the base lead to the fact that between the panels and the concrete screed appear “backlash”. Simply put, the coating sags in those places where the gap is as large as possible. And although it seems that a few millimeters is not a problem, in reality it will be quite noticeable on the floor surface both externally and when walking.
The solution to this problem also lies in laying the substrate. High-quality and properly laid material allows you to hide flaws and to achieve almost perfectly smooth surface of the subfloor. However, there are pitfalls here – you should not assume that the thicker the material, the better it will level the surface.
The optimum thickness of the substrate under the laminate – 3 mm. If you choose a material with a greater thickness, this can lead to the fact that deflections are formed at the junction points of the slats. It can also adversely affect the good condition of the locks between the panels.
Everyone knows that laminate is quite a capricious material and does not tolerate exposure to water. However, it is necessary to take care of the preservation of the coating before it is laid. First of all, a concrete screed prepared for laying laminate should dry thoroughly before being used as a base. Sometimes this process takes up to one month. There is no need to hurry to do everything quickly, otherwise condensate may accumulate between the wet surface and the laminate.
Helpful advice! To understand whether the screed has dried, leave a plastic bag on the floor in the evening. If by the morning the bag was dry, it means that the base is completely dry. If condensation appears, you will have to wait a little longer.
In this case, the substrate performs a waterproof function, maintaining the microclimate for both the concrete screed and the reverse side of the laminated coating.
Apart from the fact that the substrate itself performs insulating properties, retaining heat indoors and preventing it from being spent through concrete, the laminate itself is also a fairly warm coating. Thus, a combination of high-quality coating and the right substrate provide a warm floor that does not need any extras.
As for the installation of heating systems, they are not always effective, since, being between two heat-insulating materials, they cannot fully reveal their capabilities. Much more appropriate to combine them with tile or other “cold” material.
Based on the above, it becomes clear that laying the substrate under the laminate is a necessary measure. And here it remains only to choose which material to prefer. The cost of high-quality roll materials is quite high, so before you make a purchase, you must carefully weigh the pros and cons of each option. Otherwise, chasing a lower cost, you risk in a short time to face the problems of poor-quality paving.
Which substrate under the laminate is better to use? Consider what requirements are imposed on the substrate, and what criteria should guide the selection of the best flooring:
- the material used must be neutral and not react with alkaline compounds;
- bactericidal properties also play an important role;
- it must have good thermal insulation properties;
- be moisture resistant;
- the substrate should not be a breeding ground for insects, rodents and bacteria;
- should promote the accumulation of moisture;
- should ensure that the load on which the laminate locks are exposed to is reduced when walking.
Focusing on these indicators, you can choose the substrate for the laminate. How to do it right – let’s look further.
The large selection of materials recommended for use as a backing can be confusing. And to figure out which option is better, it is not easy. Therefore, the first thing worth paying attention to is the condition of the concrete screed prepared as a base. For a smooth and high-quality surface, a substrate of 2 mm will fit perfectly. And if the base with flaws – it is better to align it using a material 3 mm thick.
Helpful advice! Many manufacturers recommend using the substrate of the same company as the laminate. In fact, it does not matter, and any quality material will do.
Today, among the most popular types of substrates for laminate can be distinguished: polyethylene foam, polystyrene foam, combined, coniferous, as well as cork and bitumen-cork. We will consider each of these options and try to conclude which of these options is the most qualitative and profitable.
Due to its high thermal insulation and moisture resistance, polyethylene foam substrates are very popular. Their synthetic nature provides protection against the appearance of rodents and harmful insects under the laminate. It is very easy to cut and stack such material.
Some manufacturers produce polyethylene foam substrates, additionally equipped with another layer of metal film. Such foiled materials are made using aluminum. This option could be the ideal solution if it were not for the term of its service. It is limited to several years, after which the material begins to subside and lose its original shape.
Cork roll or sheet substrate under the laminate perfectly copes with its assigned function. Why buy cork under the laminate flooring? Among the advantages of this option include:
- excellent heat and sound insulation characteristics;
- non susceptibility of the material to the processes of decay, as well as the appearance of mold;
- convenient for mounting dimensions;
- considerable service life without loss of the qualitative characteristics;
- possibility of use with the system “warm floor” and floating floors.
The main disadvantage of the cork substrate for laminate is the price. Especially if we are talking about laying inexpensive laminate with a rather limited lifespan. Also, this material is characterized by the appearance of condensate on the back of the laminate, which can adversely affect its condition.
Kraft paper with the addition of bitumen is used as the basis for the manufacture of this material. A layer of cork crumb consisting of elements 2-3 mm long is laid over such a base. The positive side of using can be called ensuring proper sound insulation, as well as high-quality protection from moisture.
This is one of the best materials in terms of air exchange and prevention of condensate. The only thing worth noting is that it’s simply inappropriate to use such a high-quality and expensive substrate with a simple and cheap laminate. This option is more suitable for laying durable and expensive coating.
Another common variant of the substrate under the laminate – polystyrene foam. A film made from extruded polystyrene foam has the best performance when it comes to the resistance of the coating to various kinds of loads. This material is indispensable for rooms that are actively used and, as a result, have an increased load on the laminate. Moreover, the film perfectly aligns all the irregularities of the concrete base.
The elasticity and the initial thickness of this material can last for many years, and the ability to absorb vibrations when walking makes the laminated coating almost silent. The cellular structure of polystyrene provides high moisture resistance and prevents condensation. As a substrate for laminate, polystyrene is an inexpensive and very high quality option.
Almost all the proposed materials can not boast a high level of environmental friendliness. However, there are exceptions among them. Coniferous substrate under the laminate is made of wood and naturally leaves behind all other materials. Due to the porous structure, such a substrate copes with the function of sound insulation, while providing semi natural air exchange.
Installation also presents no problems even for a beginner. After reading about the coniferous substrate under the laminate reviews, you will see hundreds of satisfied owners who have provided their home with a reliable and environmentally friendly floor.
The only thing that can cause difficulty is the price of the material. Production of coniferous substrate is expensive and most likely you will have to pay a lot for such a purchase. But if you look at all the pros and cons of coniferous substrate under the laminate, you can see that it is worth it.
At the heart of the combined substrate is a combination of synthetic materials such as polyethylene and polystyrene foam. The brightest representative of this type of substrate for laminate – Tuplex. Many have seen her more than once, or even heard of her. Externally, the combined substrate consists of two layers of polyethylene, between which there is a layer of polystyrene foam balls. Such a structure provides good air exchange.
Such a “sandwich” is sold mainly in rolls and has a standard thickness of 2-3 mm. Two layers of polyethylene have different characteristics: the top does not allow water to penetrate to the base of the floor, and the bottom, on the contrary, allows moisture to pass from the concrete base to the balls. From there, due to the presence of technological gaps, the condensate is discharged to the outside.
The advantages of the combined substrate can also be attributed to high strength, flexibility, the ability to hide the defects of the concrete base and retain its original thickness throughout its life.
Qualitative laying of the substrate under the laminate can be done independently. No unusual construction tools are also needed. All you need is to strictly adhere to the algorithm of actions. After all, how accurately you follow all the recommendations will depend on the period and quality of service of your flooring.
Before laying the substrate under the laminate, you need to clean and prepare the base. It is best to use for this construction vacuum cleaner. So the screed will avoid excess contact with water. You can cut the selected material using a construction knife or ordinary scissors. To simplify the task, all measurements can be transferred to the substrate using a simple pencil or marker.
Note! If you are dealing with an uneven concrete surface, it is strictly forbidden to lay several layers of the substrate.
What thickness to choose a substrate for laminate – you decide. This largely depends on the quality of preparation of the base, as well as the required thermal and sound insulation characteristics of the interlayer.
If you don’t heed the manufacturer’s recommendations on what should be the thickness of the substrate for the laminate of your choice of brand, you will soon encounter floor deflection while walking and the locks on the panels will start to break one by one.
The first and main rule of laying the substrate under the laminate – to place it in the opposite direction to that in which the laminate will move. This requirement is due to the risk that in the future, with careless movement, part of the floor may move out of its place.
The second thing to remember is that the substrate must be mounted on the walls. So you will ensure greater reliability of the coating and extend its service life.
Helpful advice! Never use a backing that is damaged. It is better to replace this section at once, than to face problems after the entire laminate has been laid.
Another important point is to figure out which side to lay the substrate under the laminate. If you are dealing with embossed film, then it should be laid corrugated side down. Due to this, you can better eliminate base defects. If you work with a material based on aluminum, then it should always be placed on top.
After the substrate is laid over the entire surface of the floor, you can safely proceed to the installation of the laminated coating. If something remains unclear in the process of laying the substrate under the laminate – video clips will always help you figure out what to do and how.
Laminate substrate rating: 5 best options
As in any other field, there are leaders and outsiders in construction. And thinking about which substrate to choose under the laminate, I want to understand which manufacturers are the best in this business. Consider the 5 most popular and at the same time high-quality substrates that meet all the selection criteria.
Premium Cork Backing
High quality workmanship and material strength tested over the years. The substrate is not deformed. Extremely low thermal conductivity allows it to effectively heat the floor, even in fairly cool rooms. Ideal for a nursery or living room, where the floors have to withstand significant loads.
The only drawback is that Cork is not designed to level the base with it. Such a substrate requires high-quality foundations and waterproofing.
The guaranteed operational period is 25 years, the country of origin is Spain, the average price per 1 meter? – 90 rubles with a thickness of 2 mm, and 145 rubles. with a thickness of 3 mm.
It combines all the necessary qualities and provides natural floor ventilation. As the first option is not subject to deformation. The only drawback of this product is that it cannot be used with the “warm floor” system. However, it does not matter, because the qualitative composition itself provides such thermal insulation that additional heating is simply not needed. In addition, the substrate is not exposed to mold, mildew, etc.
Country of origin – Russia. With the thickness of this bitumen-cork substrate for a laminate of 3 mm, the price will be 95 rubles per square meter.
Substrate Isoplaat Startfloor Barlinek
Variant of the substrate, ideal for arranging the system of “warm floor”. For laying under the laminate, you can choose a product with a thickness of 4, 5, 6 and 7 mm. The flooring of this brand is able to withstand the strain of heavy furniture without deformation and damage.
The material responds well to heating, while it has all the characteristics necessary for an ideal substrate: sound and heat insulation, natural air circulation, condensate drainage, and resistance to fungal and mold damage. The average cost of this option is also pleasantly pleased – 55 rubles / m ?.
Technical characteristics of this material meet all the requirements for high-quality substrate. It has very high sound insulation qualities. It has a low rate of compression (up to 14 times less than foam) and, as a result, retains its shape and keeps the laminate in a stable condition.
As mentioned earlier in the article, this substrate perfectly removes moisture due to its device, and provides natural air circulation.
Among the shortcomings is only the fact that using Tuplex together with the “warm floor” system is irrational. And yet this is one of the most popular substrates of domestic production, which costs about 99 rubles per square meter.
Inexpensive substrate with quite acceptable characteristics, including heat and sound insulation. This option is often used in public places, where price plays a crucial role. Izolon is not susceptible to deformation, does not burn and has an increased resistance to moisture.
In addition, the manufacturer indicates its service life of 25 years, which is quite a lot for a material with such a cost. With a thickness of 2 mm, the price is only 35 rubles / m ?. Country of origin Russia.
Summing up, we can say that it’s up to you to decide which substrate is best for the laminate. It all depends on the goals you are pursuing and the characteristics of the material that are decisive for you. Also, much depends on whether you plan to lay the substrate under the laminate with your own hands or with the help of specialists. As practice shows, it is easy to lay a quality substrate on your own, plus it will provide a long service life even to the simplest and most inexpensive laminate.