Vapor Barrier for Your Laminate Flooring: Why Is It Important?

You’ve started to notice a horrible musty smell wafting through your home. You’ve looked everywhere, but you can’t seem to find the source. That is until your laminate flooring begins to buckle.

You lift the flooring only to notice mold laying beneath it. This issue is more common than you would think. As moisture gathers between the subfloor and laminate material, bacteria begin to fester.

These bacteria turn into mold. There’s only one way to prevent this issue. The answer is a vapor barrier.

There are some instances where you can’t go without one and some where it’s a necessity. Check out this guide to learn more.

What is a Laminate Underlay? 

Before we talk about why you need a vapor barrier underlay, let’s discuss what it is. It’s a sheet of material that’s installed between your subfloor and Mohawk RevWood Laminate. Its job is to absorb moisture and prevent the floor from getting too wet. 

Most of the time, people install these barriers in rooms that are prone to moisture, such as the basement. There’s nothing wrong with using it throughout your entire home, however. 

Accidents happen (especially if you have kids or pets). It’s nice to have that extra layer of protection to stop your floors from getting damaged. Again, there are some instances where a barrier isn’t necessary. 

Many homeowners question if they need one. The answer really depends on your climate, subflooring, the grade level of the room, and how noisy your home gets. 

Your Climate

If you live in a climate that sees a lot of nice weather, you may not need a vapor barrier. If your climate brings nothing but snow, ice, humidity, or rain, that’s a different story. 

The moisture from the weather might make its way inside your home and into your flooring. If you don’t have a floor vapor barrier in place, it could spell bad news for your laminate. 


When you install laminate, you put it down on top of subflooring. Depending on what material this subflooring is made out of, you could go with or without a barrier. 


Nine times out of ten, you’ll need a vapor barrier if your subflooring is concrete. This is because it’s a porous material. It absorbs moisture in even low-humidity areas. 


You most likely don’t need a vapor barrier if you have wood subflooring. Not unless you’re trying to upgrade your basement or crawlspace by installing laminate. 

These places see more moisture than any other area in the home. If left unprotected, your wood subflooring will rot. Most of the time, a vapor barrier won’t even be able to help you. 

You’ll have to use a vapor retarder instead if you have any hopes of keeping your floors in good shape. 

It Provides Soundproofing 

Kids and teenagers can be rowdy. They run all over the house and stay up until all hours of the night playing video games on the weekends. This noise isn’t a problem unless you make it a point to turn in for the night before they do. 

Instead of placing a pillow over your head to drown them out, consider using a vapor barrier. They absorb more than moisture. They take care of sound vibrations as well. 

Grade Level 

Every room in your home has a certain grade level. Your basement and crawlspace are below-grade. Again, this means that they take in more moisture than every other room in your home. 

There’s no question that you’ll need a vapor barrier in these rooms. If you don’t have a basement, then your ground floor becomes a below-grade room. 


When people think about insulation, their mind goes to walls and ceilings. If you don’t have some padding in these areas, all your hot/cold air will escape. This means your thermostat will have to work harder, which will drive up your energy bill. 

What many people don’t realize is air can escape through your floors as easily as it can your roof or walls. So, if your power bill has been a bit too high lately, consider getting a vapor barrier. 

Vapor Barrier Installation

Now that you know why having a vapor barrier is important, you might be wondering how to install it. It depends on what kind of underlayment you buy. 

Some require you to tape them. There are certain vapor barriers that come with their own adhesive. In some cases, you might have to roll it or paint it on. 

Either way, the hardest part of the installation process is figuring out what kind of barrier to use. If you’re having this problem, talk to a store associate. They might be able to point you in the right direction. 

In some cases, the manufacturer of your flooring will tell you which option works best. You may be able to look up a set of guidelines online. 

Don’t Go Without the Protection of an Underlayment 

If your home town sees a lot of rain and snow, the moisture may seep into your flooring and cause unspeakable damage. The only way to prevent it is by investing in a good vapor barrier.

Not only can it keep your floors dry, but it can also provide a nice layer of sound protection. There’s almost no home that can go without one. 

Are you looking for more ways to protect your house against the horrors of water damage? We’ve got you covered. Check out our blog daily for all the latest tips and tricks.