What Goes under Wood Flooring: Essential Tips for Preparation

What Goes Under Wood Flooring

When it comes to wood flooring, there’s more to it than just the beautiful surface you see. What goes under wood flooring is just as important, if not more, as it can affect the performance and longevity of your wood floors. In this guide, we’ll explore the different layers and materials that are essential to the installation of wood flooring.

The Subfloor

The subfloor is the structural layer that provides the foundation for the wood flooring. It serves as the base for the underlayment and the hardwood or engineered wood planks. The subfloor can be made of plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), or concrete, depending on the type of wood flooring and the construction of the building.

Types Of Subfloor

  • Plywood: A traditional and reliable choice for wood flooring, plywood provides a sturdy and flat surface for installation.
  • OSB: Oriented Strand Board is an engineered wood product that is cost-effective and widely used as a subfloor material.
  • Concrete: In some cases, especially in basements or high-rise buildings, concrete subfloors are used for wood flooring installations.


The underlayment is a thin layer of material placed between the subfloor and the hardwood or engineered wood planks. It helps to smooth out any minor imperfections in the subfloor, reduce noise, and provide some level of moisture protection.

Types Of Underlayment

There are several types of underlayment to consider:

Type Material Usage
Foam Underlayment Foam or felt Provides cushioning and sound absorption.
Cork Underlayment Natural cork Offers excellent sound insulation and is eco-friendly.
Rubber Underlayment Rubber or synthetic rubber Provides moisture protection and sound reduction.

Vapor Barrier

In some cases, especially with concrete subfloors or in areas with high humidity, a vapor barrier may be necessary to prevent moisture from reaching the wood flooring. The vapor barrier is typically a thin plastic or foam sheet that is placed over the subfloor before installing the underlayment and wood planks.

What Goes under Wood Flooring: Essential Tips for Preparation

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Frequently Asked Questions For What Goes Under Wood Flooring: Essential Tips For Preparation

What Is The Best Subfloor For Wood Flooring?

The best subfloor for wood flooring is plywood or OSB board.

How Do You Prepare A Subfloor For Wood Flooring?

Clean the subfloor, check for levelness, and patch any imperfections before installation.

Does Underlayment Go Under Wood Flooring?

Yes, underlayment is recommended for added cushion and noise reduction.

Can You Install Wood Flooring Over Concrete?

Yes, with the use of a moisture barrier and proper adhesive.


Understanding what goes under wood flooring is crucial for a successful and long-lasting installation. The combination of a solid subfloor, appropriate underlayment, and, if necessary, a vapor barrier, can ensure that your wood flooring not only looks beautiful but also performs well for years to come.

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