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Do I need underlayment to install vinyl plank flooring?

Do I need underlayment to install vinyl plank flooring?

When installing new flooring, it is important to know if you need underlayment.  Unlike laminate flooring, most vinyl floors are designed to lay right on the subfloor. But there are a few exceptions to the rule, but with all flooring installations, there are a few things that are required no matter what floor you install.

Before you install vinyl floors, always make sure your subfloor is:

  • In good condition
  • Free of damages
  • Smooth
  • Clean & Dust free

Not all vinyl floorings are installed the same way. Take a careful look at what you purchase so you know if you need underlayment or other accessories to make you install last for years.

Vinyl Flooring Underlayment Differences:

Click Lock Vinyl Plank Flooring

Click Lock Vinyl flooring has a locking system that is similar to laminate flooring, but has a thinner construction. Due to this construction, adding a foam underlayment can effect the locking system strength. Most of these vinyl floors can be installed right on the subfloor. If you have any areas on a concrete subfloor that may accumulate water or moisture, it is recommended to use a vapor barrier underlayment. This will prevent any mold or mildew from trapping any moisture under the planks.

If you are looking to increase the height of your floor, or have more cushion, an underlayment can be used on most vinyls above 4mm. You’ll want to choose an underlayment specific to a vinyl floor, such as our Perfect Mat Underlayment or Floor Muffler. It is important to read the manufacturer instructions before installing an underlayment. Using an underlayment may void your warranty.

Appalachian Luxury Souffle click lock vinyl plank flooring

Appalachian Luxury Souffle click lock vinyl plank flooring

Glue Down Vinyl Plank Flooring

Glue Down Vinyl will only require a subfloor that is debris free. Because you glue this floor to the subfloor, minor imperfections or sloped flooring is no problem!

Feather Lodge Knock Out Del Mar Plank glue down vinyl flooring

Feather Lodge Knock Out Del Mar Plank glue down vinyl flooring

Loose Lay Vinyl Plank Flooring

Loose Lay Vinyl is the easiest to install. These can be installed without glue or a locking system right above the subfloor. While this floor does sit on top of the subfloor, it does not need an underlayment. This vinyl flooring is designed to be cut to fit perfectly against the wall. No expansion gap needed!

Feather Lodge Quick Lay Barnside Plank loose lay vinyl flooring

Feather Lodge Quick Lay Barnside Plank loose lay vinyl flooring

WPC Vinyl Plank Flooring

Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) vinyl flooring is the newest innovation in the vinyl flooring market. It’s a thicker vinyl plank coming in at 5.5 mm or thicker. This flooring is able to be installed with an LVT specific underlayment, or right on top of the subfloor. Some WPC floors will come with an attached cork underlayment. This adds cushion and sound reduction to the floor. Be sure to read the manufacturer instructions before purchasing an underlayment for this type of flooring.

Have you installed a Click Lock Vinyl with underlayment? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

Learn more about vinyl flooring:

*This post was updated from 2015 to give you a better reading experience!

14 comments

  1. I am planning to install 5mm thick loose lay vinyl planks on first floor. My questions is, Do I need to use underlay to install Vinyl planks? (Note: it is a brand new home and wooden subfloor will be completed by the builder).

  2. I am looking to put an underlayment under our 1/8″ or 3.175mm click lock vinyl plank on concrete to help with uneven areas due to a former floor being glued down. We have scraped the floor almost clean, but a couple minor spots are not perfectly level. I thought this could help prevent the need to sand everything down and create a dust storm that will inevitably find its way onto our new carpet upstairs. Is a 2mm foam underlayment too thick for this click lock vinyl? I am concerned about weakening the locking edges. Seems like most places suggest 1.5 or 1mm underlay for vinyl. But 2mm is cheaper by a long shot.

    • Alana Kane

      Hi John, great question. Yes, you are correct. A 2mm underlayment will be too thick and soft, causing the locking system to be weak. Since vinyl flooring is a thinner product, you need a different underlayment. We carry two types of underlayment specific for vinyl planks. You can find them here: http://www.bestlaminate.com/perfect-mat-lvt-acoustic-1.5mm-underlayment/ & http://www.bestlaminate.com/floor-muffler-lvt-ultraseal-1mm-underlayment/. Lastly, be sure to check with your vinyl manufacturer instructions, as using an underlayment with your product could void your warranty. Hope this helps! Lets us know if you have any other questions.

      • Thanks for the reply. Manufacturer of my vinyl planks states that “underlayment is not required” but provides no information regarding suggestions or requirements if it is desired. I’ve also now found on another site that the manufacturer of a different 1mm LVT underlayment suggests that the vinyl planks must be at least 4mm thick. I’m wondering if I should just sand the floor after all haha…

        • Alana Kane

          I don’t see where either of our underlayments specify it, but the thicker the plank, the more stable locking system you will have. Considering vinyl is intended for installation right over the subfloor, sanding it might be the best idea! Good luck with your project.

  3. Derrick Cearbaugh

    Do i need to put down a vapor barrier when installing vinyl flooring in a basement or do i just put it on the concrete

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Derrick, thanks for the question! You can install vinyl directly over concrete. If you have any areas in the basement that tends to be damp or holds excess moisture, I would recommend laying a vapor barrier. Vinyl is waterproof, but if water begins to accumulate and sit underneath the planks for an extended period of time, mold can start to become an issue. Let us know if you have any addition questions! You can find our vapor barrier here: http://www.bestlaminate.com/visqueen-6mil-pe-vapor-barrier-block/

  4. Question:- I’m building a home and I want to put in luxury vinyl flooring. However, hard flooring gives me terrible feet pain. Could this be used for cushioning so flooring isn’t so hard on people with feet problems?

    Also, could a person still bounce a basketball on the flooring with this underlayment?

    • Ashley Tolfo

      Great questions, Cambrie! Luxury vinyl flooring is not a underlayment and should not be used as an underlayment under other flooring. There are underlayments that can be placed under luxury vinyl flooring, such as Floor Muffler LVT UltraSeal and Perfect Mat LVT underlayment, to provide cushioning and sound dampening properties. If you have any more questions, please contact us at 1-800-520-0961 and a knowledgeable sales representative can assist you!

  5. With going on concert floors . We are thinking about the cold floor and want to put cork down first for the cold then put vinyl on top . Is this alright to do ? I know we don’t need but we are not wanting the floor to be to cold

  6. I want to glue locking vinyl planks to avoid the transition strip between rooms……………….normally these planks float but I have had different advise on whether I can glue them………….

    I can not find many gray planks in glue down vinyl…………..

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Don! Thanks for the question. With any floating floor installation, you should not glue the planks down. These floors can contract and expand, which gluing can restrict and cause buckling or cupping. Also, going against the manufacturer instructions will void your warranty. I hope this helps. We are looking to introduce more grey vinyls very soon! Please let us know if you have any additional questions.

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