Do You Need Underlayment For Vinyl Plank Flooring?

Do You Need Underlayment For Vinyl Plank Flooring?

When starting on a new floor project, one critical question arises: ” Do I need an underlayment for vinyl plank flooring?” If you have the same question, don’t worry; you are not alone; even many professionals in the flooring industry sometimes find it challenging to answer this question.

The condition of the floor primarily impacts the success and everlasting beauty of vinyl flooring. Vinyl should be laid on smooth, flat, and dry surfaces for the best performance and enticing appearance.

If your subfloor has a defined pattern and is in rough shape, you may need underlayment for vinyl flooring. Specific needs such as thermal comfort, sound, or moisture are also considered when considering underlayment. Read below to get a broader picture of vinyl plank flooring underlayment:

What is Underlayment?

The overall functioning of the floor depends on many elements. Structurally, joists laid at the construction’s beginning support the flooring’s weight. On top of the joists is a subfloor that can be made of any material.

The underlay rests beneath the finish floor and at the top of the subfloor. Even though underlay is not a structural element, it serves various purposes. The usage of underlayment is optional, but the decision depends on various factors discussed in the article below.

Advantages of Vinyl Plank Flooring

Vinyl plank flooring is a synthetic material that looks like a wooden floor. It is well-known for its ease of maintenance, resistance to moisture, and its design versatility. There are various forms of vinyl, including waterproof vinyl planks and luxury vinyl planks (LVP), each with its benefits. This includes:

  • Water-resistance: They are well-suited for moisture-prone areas like kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Durability: With high durability, vinyl planks can withstand heavy footfall.
  • Cost-effectiveness: It offers the natural look of wood at a fraction of the cost.
  • Ease of Installation: The vinyl flooring installation process over various subfloors is straightforward.

How Do You Find Out If You Need Underlayment For Vinyl Flooring?

The easiest way to know if you need vinyl flooring underlayment is to look at the current flooring. If you lay luxury vinyl planks on the existing below-grade title floor or cushion-backed vinyl floor, there is a high chance that you won’t need an underlayment.

However, you would need to use the underlayment to cover the uncushioned vinyl, hardwood, and concrete floors. If your vinyl plank flooring has an underlayment installed, you won’t need an extra underlayment, but you may need a vapour barrier.

What Kind Of Underlayment Should You Choose For Vinyl Plank Flooring?

The subfloor will act as the best indicator to decide which type of underlayment you need:

Concrete Subfloor

Concrete is hard, so the option can be to include an underlayment that provides cushioning for users. This underlayment will also act as a barrier to moisture and can provide insulation during the winter months.

Plywood Subfloor

If your subfloor is made of plywood, you won’t need to worry about the moisture. So, for the plywood subfloor, you can consider underlayment for extra cushioning or sound reduction.

Existing flooring

New vinyl flooring can be laid over the existing floor as long as the old flooring is permanently adhered to the subfloor and in good condition. A rigid layer of plywood underlayment will ensure a textured design for sheet vinyl installation over wooden planks or textures resilient flooring.

A vinyl flooring underlayment can help with noise control and additional comfort for rigid vinyl plank installation.

Different Underpayments for Vinyl Flooring?

If you are looking for a suitable underlayment for vinyl plank flooring, there are multiple options at various prices. The different types of vinyl plank flooring come with unique benefits. Here are some of the popular underlayment options:


Cork offers high-quality sound insulation. It is a wise choice to use in areas susceptible to mildew and mould. If your home has allergic residences, then this underlayment is beneficial.


Foam is an affordable option that works well with plywood subfloors. It lacks a vapour barrier, so it may not be the best option for moisture-prone areas.


This is a cost-effective choice, but it can’t handle moisture exposure and is less durable.


Felt has excellent sound insulation but offers less cushioning. It is a fantastic eco-friendly underlayment option made from recycled fibres.


Rubber underlayment offers better sound and thermal insulation and offers excellent protection against moisture.

Orient Strand Board (OSB):

OSB is made from glued and compressed wood strands and can withstand moisture exposure.

Several factors will come into play while choosing the type of underlayment, including the subfloor type, budget, moisture issues, and thermal and sound insulation.

Important Consideration and Specification

The installation recommendations provided by your vinyl plank flooring manufacturer must be followed, regardless of your subfloor. Not using the underlayment that the manufacturer suggests can be a severe problem.

Your flooring will probably not function well or last as long as it might. It’s also probably going to invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty.

Certain manufacturers may insist on underlayment, whereas others may advise against it. If you install an underlay against the instructions and damage a luxury vinyl plank with an integrated pad or underlayment layer, there’s a significant chance the warranty will be lost.

Vinyl planks are often lighter in build but share a click-and-lock mechanism with laminate. The average thickness for vinyl planks is 2 to 8 mm. As a general rule, an underlayment that is “specific” to vinyl can be used on any 4 mm or more significant vinyl.

Vinyl less than 4 mm thick flooring should be laid directly on top of the subfloor.

An underlayment would add too much cushion and increase the possibility of dents and wear and tear. It’s essential to follow the directions provided by the manufacturer to learn more about the suitable underlayment types.

Use a vapour barrier only if your vinyl is less than 4mm and you are concerned about moisture.

How Do You Install Underlayment For Vinyl Plank Flooring?

The underlayment process of vinyl flooring is simple, and a professional underlayment team can make the process look easy and quick. The first process they follow is cleaning the existing floor or subfloor and ensuring it is scorched.

The experts use the best cleaners to clean the vinyl plank floors. Then, the flooring experts will follow the below-given steps:

  • Underlayment will be installed facing the opposite side of the flooring.
  • The material will be rolled from one corner to the opposite end of the room, with the shiny side facing up.
  • Additional pieces of the underlayment will be next to each other with the proper precision to ensure they never overlap.
  • Package tapes are used to seal any seams.

If any specific spots have lots of traffic, you can glue the underlayment to the subfloor, but it is optional.

Final thoughts

Underlayment can improve the longevity and performance of the subfloor of your vinyl flooring by providing moisture protection, extra cushioning and sound installation.

So, while deciding whether or not you need underlayment for vinyl plank flooring, consider the type of floor, the condition of the subfloor, and the specific needs of your space to get a better outcome.

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