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What requirements must underlays meet?

The EPLF and MMFA technical information sheets highlight numerous requirements that are necessary for an installation underlay. A summary of these points can be found below:

1. Protecting the floor

Protection against loading and usage (DL, CC, CS)

Schutz bei Belastung (DL, CC, CS)

Daily use exposes floors – and thus also underlayment – to heavy wear. This is why laminate underlayment must be able to stand up to long-term loads (CC/furniture), dynamic loads (DL/walking) and temporary loads (CS), over their entire useful life. This is the only way in which the floor – and particularly its connection system – can be protected over the long term.

Protection against falling objects (RLB)

Schutz bei fallenden Gegenständen (RLB)

Falling objects can damage irreparably the surface of the laminate. That is why the type of laminate underlay used plays a particularly important role, along with the quality of the flooring itself. These factors both have as significant influence on the weight of the object and the height of the fall that can be absorbed without damage.

Protection against unevenness (PC)

Schutz vor Unebenheiten

To protect the floor mechanically and prevent local separations, it must be possible to even out small, isolated bumps. Otherwise, the floor may be damaged, particularly in transition areas.

Protection against moisture (SD)

Schutz vor Feuchtigkeit (SD)

Wherever there is mineral substrate, moisture-proofing is mandatory to prevent damage to the floor. This can be achieved with an additional vapour barrier or with an appropriately equipped laminate underlay.

2. Improving living comfort

Impact sound insulation (IS)

Trittschallminderung (IS)

When the sound of footsteps is transmitted to the room immediately below, the result is generally known as impact sound. Laminate underlayment can significantly reduce this impact sound when combined with the floor being installed.

Reflected walking sound insulation (RWS)

Gehschalldämmung (RWS)

Reflected walking sounds heard in the same room are called footfall noise. The fact that such sounds are relatively loud in the case of laminate floors is due to the floor itself. Underlayment can have a noticeable sound reduction impact on this.

Because the testing standard is still being developed, there is no generally recognised test for this; thus, unfortunately, we have no recommendations either.

Thermal insulation underfoot (Rʎ)

Wärmedämmung (Rʎ)

Laminate floors are considered cold underfoot, and have relatively poor heat insulation properties. An underlay can significantly improve the heat insulation properties and improve home comfort by increasing the surface temperature.

Underfloor heating (Rʎ,B)

Fußbodenheizung (Rʎ,B)

Generally, laminate floors are suited for use on hot-water underfloor heating. However, an underlay can affect this significantly with its own thermal insulation resistance, so it is important to look at the system as a whole.

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Links & References

EPLF®  Fact sheet

MMFA Fact sheet