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Stable and durable flooring is not just what you see!

Remember that without a good substrate, a good underlay and the panel manufacturer’s instructions, even the best and the most expensive laminated panels will not give the desired effects. Good installation and good underlay guarantee the everyday comfort of walking on your floor.

SUBSTRATE
Floor assembly may begin only upon the completion of all building and finishing works. The room must be dried and equipped with an efficient ventilation system. The temperature in the room where the floor is to be installed should range from +18 to +23 oC; the same applies to the substrate. The floor must be laid on a stable and levelled substrate whose deviation should not exceed 2 mm along 200 cm. Substrate under laminated floors must be dry and clean. Given that laminates are highly susceptible to moisture, substrate moisture content should be measured as the manufacturer will refuse warranty claims if moisture content exceeds 2%.

VAPOUR BARRIER
All panel manufacturers require the installation of a vapour barrier, i.e. permanent protection against moisture from the substrate. Failure to use a vapour barrier is a common reason for warranty claim refusal.
The barrier may be made of a special membrane with SD > 75m (this parameter has replaced thickness, which was previously quoted as a quality marker). Do not use plastic drop cloths, as they are not designed for this purpose.
Unfold the vapour-proof membrane with a 20 to 30 cm overlap and seal it with moisture-resistant tape. The membrane must overlap the walls up to 3–4 cm.
Another method is the use of “2-in-1” or “3-in-1” underlays with integrated vapour-proof membranes which also contain a self-adhesive layer to facilitate the process of bonding.

UNDERLAY
Prior to floor installation, lay an underlay suitable for the room’s purpose and serviceability. The underlay should improve the comfort of walking and extend floor durability in addition to its specified function. It can provide protection from cold, or conduct heat if the floor is equipped with a heating system. Moreover, underlays prove efficient soundproofing. The characteristics and functions of underlays strongly depend on the materials they are made from. The market offers the varieties mentioned below:

    • polyurethane-mineral underlays (PUM) – the highest standard, ensuring the best soundproofing; very high pressure resistance ensures floor protection and durability. Very low heat resistance makes the underlay an ideal solution for underfloor heating systems. Polyurethane underlays allow for a saving of up to 200 EUR (*) on energy bills within a single heating season.

 

    • extruded polystyrene underlays (XPS) – ideal for levelling small unevennesses of the substrate. Such underlays can be up to 6 mm thick. Their high heat resistance makes them the best insulators among underlays (they perform well over unheated rooms). In spite of considerable flexibility they maintain panel durability thanks to their excellent load resistance. XPS underlays are available in many formats: traditional plate and roll, or fanfold – with the quickest installation. Even beginners will have no trouble with transport and assembly, thanks to their light weight.

 

    • high-density polyethylene underlays (PEHD) – recommended for floor heating; they also perform well in room soundproofing.

 

    • traditional underlays – have been well known for a long time: cork, a poor soundproofing material, will crumble over time and fail to protect the floor. “Wood Fibre” crumble easily and also produce dust and dirt; in spite of their considerable weight and hardness they are not resistant to compression. These products absorb moisture, exposing panels to damage even with the smallest amount of water. Furthermore, they are not designed for floor heating systems. Common PE foams or corrugated boards are still found on the market in spite of the fact they cannot be laid under floor panels. Such materials contribute to the rapid degradation of panels; as such, they may invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty.

      Underlays are available in a variety of formats and packaging. Plates are the most popular on the market, but although their installation is easy, the need to join them with the use of tape makes them too labour-intensive for larger surfaces. Underlays in rolls unfold well in more spacious rooms. Fanfolded underlay is new on the market – It can be laid precisely, step by step, which seems to be the simplest, quickest underlay assembly method. Fanfolded underlay can be laid up to 5x faster than traditional plates. Fanolded underlay is called the new generation of plate.
      See: https://youtu.be/Sfag9rLwAzw

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST UNDERLAY? ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS:

Do you want to lay floor heating system under the floor?
If so, look for underlays featuring the lowest possible heat resistance: polyurethane-mineral (PUM) or high-density polyethylene (PEHD). Look for FLOOR HEATING icons on the packaging.

Does your floor require additional insulation from the substrate? Is it located above a garage or basement?
In such cases, look for good insulating underlays. The best will be polystyrene underlay (XPS) of 6 mm thickness.

Is soundproofing important for the room where the floor is laid?
The best soundproofing underlays are made of PUM and PEHD, with XPS as the third option.

(*) Applies to 50m2, at 22 oC, hydronic floor heating by means of a condensing boiler
(104 % efficiency); heating season of 6 months; Multiprotec 1000 underlay compared with PE foam of 2 mm thickness.

Check how much you can save: https://www.arbiton.com/en/savings-calculator

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