March 18/25, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 21
By Megan Salzano
While a seemingly ancillary product, underlayments have become increasingly more important to the flooring industry. Not only do they help boost the bottom line for retailers and contribute to successful installations across product categories, but the segment also provides protection against a growing consumer concern: moisture incursion.
Subfloor moisture that can adversely affect the integrity of a flooring system may have always been a key issue for some consumers, but the evolution of home and product trends has created an increased focus on the issue. The rising popularity of multilayer engineered flooring, for example, is one factor contributing to the increased utilization of underlayments as protective measures, Wade Verble, vice president of business development and underlayment at DriTac Flooring Products, told FCNews.
“The nature of multilayered flooring, particularly when installed over concrete, demands a vigilant defense against potential subfloor moisture damage,” he said. “As the multilayer flooring category continues to grow, underlayments will likely be seen as an increasingly valuable solution.”
More specifically, LVT has exploded onto the scene with new surface visuals that continue to grab consumer attention, and underlayments have become increasingly more important in these applications. “What’s happening in the market is a lot of these LVT planks are coming with pre-attached underlayment,” said Deanna Summers, marketing coordinator, MP Global. “Those products are marketed as waterproof—and the planks may be waterproof, or the products that they’re made from—but you still have to waterproof the substrate.”
Colleen Gormley, sales and marketing, Diversified Industries, added, “Along with the growth of hard surface flooring installations, consumer’s education on the subject has grown as well. Consumers have learned that underlayment is not just for sound abatement, but an integral part of protecting your flooring system’s joints, providing comfort and of course protecting against moisture problems. Consumers want to do an installation job once, the right way, and be supported by their underlayment in all facets.”
Another key factor in the need for underlayments is the growing trend toward con- sumer utilization of basement spaces, a location often plagued by moisture. “More and more people are turning basements into living spaces,” said Steve Sennik, president, DMX Plastics. “They are either creating income properties that help them pay for the mortgage or they want additional living space—they make a gym, study or living area. It’s a much more active area than it was 15 or 20 years ago.”
Following is a curated selection of moisture-mitigating solutions in the market.
QuietWalk Plus+ advances the fiber blend technology of the original, featuring more versatile applications with the special attached vapor barrier allowing floating, glue- or nail-down applications. Boasting the same performance characteristics as the original, reducing unwanted traveling noise and superior moisture protection and proper compression to support tongue and groove, QuietWalk Plus+ is the universal underlayment covering all installation applications. This underlayment can be installed over wood or concrete subfloors. DriTac
DriTac EnviroTread rubber underlayment and acoustical barrier is ideal for glue-down and floating installations of hardwood, carpet, carpet tile, ceramic tile, ceramic stone and laminate flooring. It also offers DriTac’s Dual Force, Silent Fuse technology when utilized with approved DriTac flooring adhesives in “double-stick” glue-down applications.The resulting Total Sound and Moisture Reduction System (SRS) features an enhanced lifetime warranty. Further, when used with DriTac MCS 7000 two-part, concrete moisture control system, the SRS offers moisture mitigation up to 25 pounds per ASTM F 1869 and 100% RH per ASTM F2170 Healthier Choice
Being very aware of the need for moisture vapor mitigation, Healthier Choice has offered solutions for the issue for over 20 years. The company’s Sound Solution Vapor Bloc product, seen here, is extremely effective at handling extreme vapor emissions and is warranted for 10 lbs per 24 hours per the calcium chloride test. In recent years, the company has also developed a similar product called OmniChoice Vapor Bloc that is ideal for floating installations under vinyl floors. Schönox
Schönox SDG Plus is a rapid drying, ready-mixed acrylic moisture mitigation system suitable on cement-based substrates with residual moisture up to 96% RH or 18 lbs per 1,000 square feet per 24 hours in interior areas before applying Schönox underlayment. DMX Plastics
DMX 1-Step underlayment is available for a variety of flooring types, including carpet (seen here), area rugs, LVT and laminate and engineered hardwood. DMX 1-Step Carpet is designed for areas where moisture is a problem, such as basement installations. It features a unique dimple design that allows air to flow under the floor so vapor moisture can evaporate. This process prevents mold and mildew from building up under the floor. The dimples are also encapsulated in a closed-cell foam, which is waterproof and keeps floors warm. It has a compressive strength of 6,000 lbs per square foot to help support comfort underfoot. Diversified
As part of Diversified’s Premium collection, FloorMuffler LVT Encore is ideal for most direct attach LVT/P flooring installations. It can also be used in floating installations and is available with and without the UltraSeal self-sealing lip and tape system. It features a built-in moisture barrier that exceeds industry standards with no additional films required. It also features superior acoustic protection, comfort and durability. It is fully recyclable, mold and mildew resistant and surpasses indoor air quality emissions requirements for CA Section 01350. Foam Products
All of Foam Products’ underlayments have a moisture mitigation film to help prevent fluids from reaching the flooring planks. Eco Ultimate Silencer, for example, is ideal for laminates and wood flooring. It has a polyester film bonded directly to the premium acoustical polyurethane foam during the manufacturing process. This process eliminates any potential delamination from the foam so there is a 100% moisture vapor film coverage on the subfloor to prevent the moisture from reaching the actual installed flooring and the above surface. The same technology is available in the company’s Silencer LVT, which is ideal for all LVT, WPC and SPC installations. Laticrete
The Hydro Ban cementitious waterproofing membrane is a single-component, polymer-fortified cement-based waterproofing material for both interior and exterior applications that requires only water for mixing. It is formulated to be Greenguard certified and LEED compliant for sustainable building, equipped with anti-microbial technology and is solvent-free and non-flammable. WeCork
Silently+, a two-in-one product, offers a vapor barrier and sound control under floating floors, including engi- neered wood, laminates and LVT. Silently+ is a low-pro- file, easy-to-install rubber cork product with attached moisture barrier, which offers superior and economi- cal sound control in a 2mm thickness. Its high density provides a solid but resilient underlayment, which absorbs footfall sounds in the room while preventing moisture issues commonly found in basements and on-grade structures.