Advances in acoustic technology and processes are transforming the underlayment category with MP Global Products and Healthier Choice among the companies at the forefront in developing the latest and greatest sound-deadening products.
MP Global has one of the leading new acoustic products, marketed under its UltraLayer Peel & Stick label. UltraLayer Peel & Stick, made from 100% recycled content, is an underlayment that insulates, deadens sound and suppresses lateral cracks. Jack Boesch, director of marketing, said specifiers are using the UltraLayer products for condominiums and apartments because of its excellent sound-deadening qualities.
Healthier Choice’s Sound Solution Premium Acoustical Underlayment and Sound Solution Vapor Bloc features what the company says is the highest vapor transmission in the flooring industry. Drew Holland, marketing manager, said this superior sound absorption technology reduces in-room noise levels and helps eliminate hollow sounds (like those from laminate floors). “The VaporBloc barrier protects floors from moisture and vapor damage,” he said.
All Healthier Choice products feature Frothed Polyurethane Foam, a product that provides “unrivaled performance” for insulation, Holland said. “We offer a 100% lifetime guarantee that the carpet will not crush or bottom out.”
Roberts has rolled out three additions to its underlayment program: Quiet Cushion, Soft Stride and Super Felt. “We now have a full-line program and can offer total underlayment solutions to all our distributors,” said Brad Miller, director of product marketing.
The Quiet Cushion Premium Acoustical Underlayment is made of very dense 2mm cross-linked foam that is designed to offer the best possible sound reduction for floating
floors, the company said. Soft Stride is made from a slightly lower density 2mm cross-linked foam while Super Felt Premium Felt Underlayment is made from 4mm thick compressed recycled fibers. “The felt acts to absorb noise instead of deflecting it and helps to provide a deep wood sound,” Miller said.
Novostrat markets a good/better/best line of underlayment for wood and laminate floors. From the value Graphite underlay for carpeted floors and the mid-range Sonic Classic, which is designed to work with under-floor heating systems, through to Sonic Gold Excel, all are rated to have high performance benefits relative to their cost. Novostrat underlays feature a polyethylene foam core that makes them highly durable and lightweight.
Watching the ratings game
Underlayment companies often claim the highest impact insulation class (IIC) ratings in the industry, but MP Global’s Boesch said their customers are often confused by these claims. He said some competitors do a “smoke and mirrors” test with point of purchase displays by using a golf ball drop that is also misleading.
Boesch said buyers of underlayment products need to be mindful of IIC test results. “Buyers of underlayments relaying on the “say so” of a particular underlayment salesman can be swayed far too easily if they are not savvy to how these tests are performed or reported,” he said. “The IIC score is based on an entire ceiling assembly and not just the underlayment itself.” In other words, if an unscrupulous underlayment company boasts an IIC of 72 and another boasts an IIC of 62, the results cannot be trusted without first knowing what the entire ceiling assembly consisted of that was tested.
“A buyer not knowing the difference may assume the underlayment scoring the 72 is better, because in acoustic testing the higher the score the better. But again, that is misleading. NALFA is currently working to clear up these types of misleading claims by insisting any advertised IIC score also include a description of the subfloor assembly it was tested over,” Boesch finished.