Self Adhesive Wood Floor Underlay Review

We’ve been using the Self Adhesive Wood Floor underlay for many years! It’s time to give you some insight into this product from a professional wood floor installer’s perspective..

Let’s start with some information about this underlay..

  • Self adhesive underlayDimensions – Length 10 metres depending on supplier – Width 1 metre – Thickness 3 mm
  • Installation – Can be fitted on any FLAT sub-floor. Designed to be used for solid wood flooring not exceeding 150 mm in width
  • Cost – Between £5 and £10 per square metre
  • Suitable rooms – All rooms excluding areas subject to splashing
  • Not moisture proof and requires a separate moisture barrier on concrete floors!!

I’ve personally been using the self adhesive underlay as a method of installing wood floors for over 6 years and must say the results are surprisingly impressive. There are a number a cautions I will be adding later on so be sure to read this review in it’s entirety.

The self adhesive underlay is marketed as a fast, easy and effective way to install wood flooring. Which I wholeheartedly agree with. However, I’d recommend reading this review to the end. Are you seeing a theme here??

When using this underlay it’s worth understanding what it actually is, as the product is essentially a hybrid between conventional underlay and a permanently fixed installation method such as gluing or secret nailing to a sub-floor. The self adhesive underlay sits half way between the two.

I’ll explain. A conventional underlay is placed (not glued!) on top of a sub-floor. Then the chosen floor covering is placed (not glued to!) on top of the underlay. This method (commonly known as ‘floating’) isn’t suited for solid wood floors as a method of fixing the planks together in this instance. The only method that can be used being PVA adhesive inserted in the tongue and groove of each plank. Now as pva needs to fuse with the core board of the wood flooring, a sealed kiln dried solid wood would hinder the fusion process and inevitably lead to the floor failing.

Now a permanently fixed installation method would require the solid wood floor to be directly glued or nailed to the sub-floor without the use of an underlay.

The self adhesive underlay meets the two methods half way. On one hand when using this underlay you would essentially be floating the solid wood floor and on the other, you would have a more than adequate method of joining each plank together that lasts and allows the floor to breath/move without any problems as the underlay has an extremely high elasticity and strength value.

For areas where you may be doubtful about the sub-floor moisture content and even areas where the sub-floor changes i.e. floorboards to concrete, and conventional permanent methods aren’t possible, the self adhesive underlay comes in and saves the day; to good effect!

What are the benefits of the self adhesive wood flooring underlay?

I’ve outlined some of the benefits in my introduction but I’ll briefly outline them again and include more benefits in this section.

  • The self adhesive underlay can be used to adequately fix each solid wood plank together and at the same time be done using a floating method. This is particularly handy when fitting across two different types of sub-floor, where there maybe doubts about using an adhesive and impossible to nail the solid wood down due to one part of the sub-floor perhaps being solid. Conventionally an 18 mm ply board base may be installed, but this obviously increases the height of the overall floor dramatically. Hence, a thin self adhesive underlay really does aid this situation.
  • Apart from the initial start, the self adhesive underlay is an extremely fast method of fixing the boards together. Simply place the boards in position and gently peel the surface film back and a very strong bond is created. Make no mistake, the bond is VERY strong!
  • No damage to the sub-floor or adhesive residue. If the wood floor ever had to come up, it could be done without any sign that a wood floor had been fitted. Although difficult, the adhesive underlay could be removed and the floor re-used elsewhere. With permanently fixed wood floors, this is not always possible.
  • The secret nailing method of fixing can be very restrictive towards allowing the wood floor to expand with increased humidity, often resulting in cupping. The self adhesive underlay is extremely elasticated and will allow the floor to move a huge amount and will still have the strength to pull the floor back once the humidity has lowered. It will do this time and time again throughout the life of the floor without a problem! This for me is my favourite advantage to this underlay and is not marketed enough to potential customers.

Who is the self adhesive wood floor underlay best suited for?

Self adhesive underlay under wood floorThe self adhesive underlay is best suited for very competent diy’ers and professional installers. Although I’ve seen some extremely good professional installers struggle with this underlay in the past. Do not be misguided by a nice sales pitch from a shop assistant, a nice looking step by step diagram or ‘look how simple it is’ how-to video.

To anyone that’s never used this before, I would highly advise to practice first on a few scrap pieces of wood flooring and the adhesive underlay. A good understanding of how it works, combined with the knowledge of how quickly the underlay grabs (which is instant!) to the wood floor and how strong the bond is, would be very helpful to anyone attempting to use this underlay for the first time.

If you get angry easily, think about a different method of installation or find that small pocket of patience!

Where and ‘where can’t’ self adhesive wood flooring underlay be used?

Self adhesive underlay can be used in most rooms in a home. Most manufacturers literature states, areas that are subject to splashing are not advised. This would obviously suggest bathrooms or such areas, although careful consideration towards using a solid wood floor in such an area should be given anyway.

The underlay does not provide any seal to the surface of the wood floor. It only bonds the bottom surface together. Knowing this, it’s obvious to see that any surface moisture will quickly work it’s way into the joins of the wood floor and eventually to the adhesive underlay itself, potentially breaking down the adhesive bond.

Most self adhesive wood floor underlays are not guarantee or advised to use over underfloor heating. Seek further advise from your specific self adhesive supplier or manufacturer prior to installing over underfloor heating.

The negatives of self adhesive wood flooring underlay!

Once the surface film is peeled back and a bond created with a solid wood floor plank, there’s no going back!! If you are at the beginning of the installation, you could cut the underlay at the last row if things didn’t go right and start again. However, if you’re in the middle of the room, do not  make a mistake! Things can get very messy very quickly. To say this underlay is like fly paper would be an understatement.

As the method of installing the floor is essentially floating, the sound of the floor when walked on can be slightly hollow. A lot like any wood floor fitted on top of an underlay. You will miss out on that solid firm feel of a permanently fixed wood floor.

Summary

The self adhesive underlay certainly solves several problems and is extremely effective in what it’s deigned to do. Be under no illusion, it’s tricky but once you have the hang of it and understand how it works, you’ll be flying in no time. I’ve personally fitted it on many installations and not been called back once! Although, I’ve had a good number of false starts due to the nature of it. This stuff sticks and sticks well.

Now you have a better understanding of the pro’s and con’s of self adhesive underlay and have made an educated decision, should this particular underlay suit your requirements, please click on the button below to find out more about the costs and delivery. If you’ve not already purchased your solid wood floor, be sure to see what they have on offer.

© Copyright 2013 Wes, All rights Reserved. Written For: Fitmywoodfloor
About

I am a Pergo trained professional installer of 20 years. I've been up close and personal with lots of floors and have the knobbly knees to show for it...Should you have any questions or comments please feel free to add them below. Thanks for taking the time to call by and I hope the information you've found has given you some insight!........................................................................................................................................................................“When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in the site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network, amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.fr, amazon.de, amazon.it, amazon.ca, affiliate window network.” This statement is to comply with current internet regulations regarding transparency to consumers.

Posted in Flooring accessory reviews, Underlay reviews, Underlays Tagged with: , , , ,
  • Mick Mac

    I am thinking of using a self adhesive underlay to put solid timber over yellow tongue n steel bearers n joists .would rhis ve suitable any suggestions

  • Hi Mick,

    Apologies for the delay in replying to you.

    This really is your judgement call. The main criteria to follow when making this judgement is, is the sub-floor solid? Is the sub-floor flat? Is the sub-floor dry and will be permanently dry?

    It’s not a system I’m too familiar with as we don’t see it a lot in the UK. I may be mistaken due to your description. Can you tell me what the sheet material overlay on the joists will be? Or do you intend the solid timber to go straight across the joists?

    Regards,

    Wes.

  • Mick Mac

    Hi wes the material over the joists is particle board .yellow tongue its called here. .it will be permanently dry ,is solid,some the particle boards edges have lipped up a bit as they got wet when first layed was thinking of sanding them before starting

  • Oh, I see. Thanks for clarifying Mick.

    In that case, yes, adhesive underlay would work fine. Of course after you’ve prepared the particle board as you suggest.

    Regards,

    Wes.

  • Mick Mac

    Ok cheers mate

  • svyatko

    Hi Wes,

    I have an original pine floorboards which I was thinking of using as my subfloor. The floorboards should be pretty stable after tightening few nails here and there, but I might still have a variance in height of about 1-3mm between some boards, which I was hoping to disguise with a 5mm underlay.

    I am looking at putting T&G engineered herringbone parquet everywhere, do you have any experience of laying this type of floor on a self adhesive underlay?
    As you might have figured, i am looking for a way to “float” a herringbone floor, and to avoid gluedown or nailing as that would require a perfectly leveled subfloor, which would automatically make the whole floor higher, add more work etc… Another option i have looked at was click herringbone, but this again mostly comes in very wide planks, which isn’t ideal for my house. Narrow click herringbone costs an arm and a leg 🙂

    Any advise would be appreciated.

    Regards

    Svyatko

  • Hi Svyatko,

    The very best advice I can give you is to get that sub-floor flat. 3 mm difference between floorboards is big. It’s unlikely the underlay will absorb that difference and you’ll be left with an extremely creaky floor at best. At worst, it will pull itself apart before long. Likely, you’ll experience a bit of both.

    A herringbone parquet looks absolutely stunning. Don’t skimp on the preparation. Trust me. It honestly is not worth the ensuing hassle, stress, and costs.

    Regards,

    Wes.

  • svyatko

    Thanks Wes, I suspected I would have to go this route 🙂
    don’t seem to see much on floating T&G herringbone installations either on the internet so I guess my options are limited.

    Thanks for your help.

    svyatko