Underlayment Under Vinyl Flooring: (Is It Necessary?)

Vinyl floors must sit on an even surface. So, does the vinyl floor need an underlayment?

You must lay an underlayment before laying vinyl plank floors. The underlayment will create a flat and sturdy base for the vinyl planks to sit on. Also, underlayment protects vinyl planks from moisture, mold, and water leaks. 

However, if the floor has an existing underlayment, you don’t need a new one. Also, some vinyl planks, such as luxury vinyl, come with pre-attached underlayment, so you don’t need another underlayment.

This post reveals more about the underlayment requirements for vinyl flooring. Including a guide on different types of underlayment for vinyl plank flooring. Let’s dive in.

Underlayment Offers Support To Vinyl Planks

An underlayment offers vinyl plank flooring support and stability. In addition, it gives the vinyl plank flooring extra support underneath so the vinyl flooring can handle more weight and use.

The vinyl plank flooring will make squeaking noises and crack over time without an underlayment.

Here are other reasons underlayment matters for vinyl plank flooring:

1. Vinyl Floors With Be Even

Vinyl plank flooring is formed by attaching several vinyl planks side by side using the tongue and groove locking mechanism. To make the floor smooth, the planks must be arranged and locked on an even surface.

However, if the subfloor is uneven or bumpy, the vinyl planks’ surface won’t be smooth. But, if you put a flat underlayment on the subfloor, the vinyl floors will be smooth and even.

2. Moisture Protection

Long-term exposure to water will damage your vinyl floors. Underlayment will protect the vinyl floors from moisture. A waterproof underlayment will prevent underneath water from reaching your vinyl floor planks. Since water won’t reach your vinyl planks, moisture and mold won’t grow on vinyl planks. 

3. Allows Locks to Click in Place

Vinyl plank floors are formed by connecting several planks using a tongue and groove locking mechanism between the planks. Without an underlayment, the planks won’t slide in place as they should. Although the locks will click, some locks will be under more pressure and will cause the planks to separate and cause gaps.

However, an underlayment provides a smooth and even layer for the vinyl floors, so the locks can click and won’t move. 

4. Soundproofing

Vinyl plank underlayment is made from foam, rubber, felt, or cork padding. All of these materials are good at soundproofing. So, if you lay an underlayment under vinyl floors, the underlayment will remove the “click sound” from the vinyl planks when walked on. Soundproofing is important if you have neighbors living downstairs.

5. Insulation

Vinyl planks floors are cold during the winter months. However, an underlayment beneath the vinyl planks will provide insulation and warmth for your vinyl floors. 

So, vinyl planks will feel warmer during cold winter months if you use an underlayment. 

You Need an Underlayment If:

To know if you need underlayment for your vinyl floors, inspect the existing subfloor condition and the type of vinyl planks you have.

You need underlayment for vinyl flooring if:

1. There’s No Existing Underlayment

If your vinyl floor planks are designed with foam-like padding, you don’t need an underlayment. That’s because the vinyl planks already have an underlayment and have all the support it needs. For instance, luxury vinyl planks are known to have pre-attached underlayment.

However, if your vinyl floors don’t have a pre-attached underlayment, you must use one. 

2. Bad Subfloor

If the vinyl floors have a subfloor, inspect its conditions. If the subfloor is rough, bumpy, patchy, or uneven, you must use a new underlayment for the vinyl floors. 

However, if the subfloor is smooth, flat, and strong enough to support the floor, you don’t need an underlayment.

3. No Previous Floor

If there’s an existing floor, such as a laminate floor, there’s a chance there will be an existing underlayment under it. That’s because laminate floors are installed over an underlayment

In this case, you don’t need another underlayment since there is an existing one on the subfloor. If you want to use another underlayment, you must remove the existing underlayment first. That’s because too many underlays under your vinyl planks will not let the locks click.n

Also, if there is an existing cushioned floor, you don’t need an underlayment. This is because cushioned tiles are always smooth and strong, making the floor an ideal base for vinyl plank flooring. So, you don’t need underlayment on a cushioned floor for the vinyl planks.

4. For Bathroom Floors

If you install vinyl planks in a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room, you need a moisture protection underlayment beneath the floor to prevent water from getting to vinyl planks.

That’s because the bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry room floor are filled with water. Also, there are several water pipes under the ground of these floors. So, if any of these pipes get damaged, it will cause a water leak on the subfloor. The water leak will damage the vinyl floors if you don’t have a waterproof underlayment.

Types of Underlayment You Can Use:

Here are the top types of underlayment for vinyl plank flooring:

1. Standard or Foam Underlayment

A standard underlayment is gotten from a foam material and is the most common type of underlay for vinyl floors. To make a standard underlayment, the hard foam material is compressed together and filled with air. The underlayment comes in wraps or rolls of different sizes and thicknesses.

The biggest advantage of foam underlayment is that it’s affordable. The biggest disadvantage of this underlayment is that it’s not waterproof and absorbs water over time. 

2. Cork Underlayment

Cork underlayment is designed from cork material and is soundproof. In addition, cork is a durable material that can handle traffic and weight, and is moisture resistant. 

3. Particleboard Underlayment

Particle underlayment is gotten from foam and wood materials. This underlay is strong and sturdy, but it’s not waterproof. Foam and wood absorb water, so don’t use this underlay in bathrooms.

4. Wood Underlay

Wood underlayment is made of wood materials, such as plywood. This underlayment is strong and provides good support. However, wood underlayment isn’t soundproofing. 

5. Combination Underlayment

Combination underlayment is gotten by combining several materials, including felt, rubber, cork, and foam. This is the hybrid of vinyl plank underlayment and can be used for any subfloor. However, combination underlayment is expensive.

How To Install Underlayment Under Vinyl Flooring?

Installing vinyl flooring underlayment is easy if you have the right underlayment and vinyl floor type.

Here are the tools you need to lay an underlayment under a vinyl floor:

  • A pair of scissors
  • A broom
  • Floor brush
  • A rubber mallet
  • A chisel
  • A pair of gloves

Here is a guide for installing underlayment:

  1. Remove all objects on the floor, including furniture and electronics.
  2. Remove the carpet or rug.
  3. Use a chisel to separate and remove the baseboard trims.
  4. Check the condition of the subfloor and repair any damages or dents.
  5. Sweep and clean the subfloor to remove dust.
  6. Measure the subfloor and use a pair of scissors to cut and adjust the underlay to size.
  7. Unwrap and put the underlayment directly on the subfloor.

Best Thickness For Vinyl Plank Underlayment

The best thickness for vinyl plank floor underlay is between 2-4mm, with 3mm being the best. Vinyl underlayment ranges in thickness level from 1mm to 6mm, with 1mm being the thinnest and 6mm being the thickest.

However, thicker isn’t always good when it comes to vinyl underlayment. The vinyl plank locks will not click if the underlayment is too thick. Generally, residential spaces wouldn’t require an underlayment thickness of more than 4mm.

More Things To Know:

You should know that the type of underlayment to use for your vinyl floor depends on:

The Type of Vinyl Planks You Have

For instance, if you have luxury vinyl planks, you must use a thick underlayment. That’s because luxury vinyl planks are heavier than regular vinyl planks.

The Installation Method

If you use a floating installation method, you must use an underlayment that allows you to lay planks directly over it. 

For the glue-down installation method, use a textured underlay so the vinyl glue can stick. Also, if you want to nail the vinyl planks to the subfloor, you’ll need an underlay that allows the nail to go through.

The Need for Moisture Resistance or Not

If you are installing vinyl floors on bathroom or kitchen floors, you need a waterproof underlayment. However, if you are installing vinyl floors in a bedroom or living room, you don’t need waterproof underlayment.

The Material of the Subfloor

The subfloor material matters. For instance, for a concrete subfloor, you don’t need a thick underlayment because the concrete is strong enough to provide support. 

However, for a wood subfloor, you need a thicker underlayment to provide more support beneath the vinyl floor. 

The Rating of the Underlayment

Vinyl plank flooring underlayment is rated based on soundproofing, insulation, and thickness. You should consider these ratings based on the requirements that you need from the underlayment.

Final Words

Picking an underlayment is as important as deciding which vinyl planks to get. Underlayment makes the floor smooth and stronger.

Remember that if the vinyl planks already have pre-attached underlayment, you don’t need an extra one. Also, if an underlayment or cushion is already on the subfloor, you don’t need another one.

Use cork underlay for high traffic floors and a waterproof underlay for high moisture areas.

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