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Can I Use Underlayment Under Vinyl Flooring For Warmth?

Dear Bob and Betsy,
I live in northern Michigan and it can get cold in the winter. Can I use underlayment under vinyl flooring as insulation to keep my house warm? If so, what kind of underlayment is best?
Thanks! Silvia O.

Dear Sylvia,

BRRR! Winters in Michigan don’t sound fun! We can understand why you would be concerned with warmth and insulation in any place you can get it. There is some good news and bad news when it comes to underlayment and vinyl flooring.

No Thick Underlayment Under Vinyl Flooring

Unfortunately, adding insulating underlayment under vinyl flooring will cause the flooring to be unstable. Because vinyl flooring isn’t made from wood products, it does not have the same structure that laminate flooring does. Vinyl flooring needs to have a sturdy, stable sub-floor with very little cushioning regardless of the installation type: glue-down, click-lock, or loose lay. However, if you are installing vinyl flooring over a concrete sub-floor, you will need a very thin vapor barrior, such as Visqueen Vapor Barrier underlayment to protect your flooring from moisture.

Visqueen 6Mil PE Vapor Barrier
Visqueen 6Mil PE Vapor Barrier

If You’re Set On Having Insulation Under Your Floor…

If you are set on having the warmth and insulation under your flooring, we would suggest switching to laminate flooring. Laminate flooring has to have underlayment in order to float the flooring. There are lots of different underlayments to choose from for your specific needs. If you’re looking for insulation, we recommend Robert’s Super Felt Premium Underlayment. The felt adds lots of insulation and sound dampening properties that will keep you warm and your floors quiet!

Roberts Super Felt Premium Underlayment
Roberts Super Felt Premium Underlayment

Do you still have questions about vinyl flooring or underlayment? Feel free to comment in the space below and we will be happy to help!

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About Bob and Betsy

Bob and Betsy
Bob and Betsy are the dynamic duo that have all the answers for your flooring related questions! Don't hesitate to submit a question to them at support@bestlaminate.com!

33 comments

  1. Avatar

    Hi we have installed luxury nynal floor a week ago. Now we realised our builder did not level the subfloor and laid it on the uneven concrete. SOme places are bumpy and some are going down. What to do?

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Kazi, thanks for the question. There is not really anything you can do, but to fix the subfloor. I would recommend calling the builder to see if he will fix the issue. The subfloor can be one of the most important steps in the installation!

  2. Avatar

    I am remodeling a cabin with an uneven plywood floor. What can I put over this floor as a surface under sheet vinyl?

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Susan, thanks for the question. You can either add an additional layer of plywood over your current subfloor, or sand down the uneven parts. If you are sanding down the uneven parts, make sure the plywood is still thick enough to support the boards, at least 1/4 or 3/8″.

  3. Avatar

    Hi,
    I am replacing my kitchen and dining room vinyl flooring with vinyl wood plank (6″ x 36″). I intend to have it “free floating”. The new flooring has its own underlayment attached (it is very top of the line flooring). When I peel up the old vinyl (installed is the peel & stick squares), the subfloor also had adhesive trowelled onto it before the tiles were attached. The subfloor is particle board. The old adhesive that is left on the subfloor is way too difficult to deal with in order to remove. It is quite sticky. I am afraid the new floor will become stuck to it and not free float. Also I am afraid I might hear tacky sounds when walking on it if I install right over the old adhesive. I normally might have just put the new floor right over the old but several places in the subfloor need repair (cut out and new subfloor installed). I have read several places to simply put down visqueen over the adhesive and put the new flooring on top of it. I can’t think of any other way to deal with this. Would you suggest this or anything else? Removing the old adhesive is out of the question and I don’t want to lay wooden sheet underlayment. Thanks!

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Jeff, thanks for the question. Your subfloor should always be level, as vinyl can take on the shape of any high or low places. You mentioned your vinyl is top of the line, so if it is an SPC or WPC rigid core construction, it is less likely to take the shape of the subfloor imperfections. If you want to just put visqueen overtop, it will most likely not level the floor. Since your vinyl has underlayment attached, the Visqueen will prevent the adhesive from getting stuck to the floor, however, I am not sure if the attached underlayment will be thick enough to mask the imperfections, since I cannot see it for myself. With the visqueen, attached underlayment and a rigid core construction, you should be fine. If you’re installing a standard LVT, you may want to consider covering it with a cement compound to level the floor and eliminate the sticky feel. Hope this helps!

      • Avatar

        Thanks for the reply. The vinyl laminate planks are about 1/4 inch thick, ridgid core with about 1/16 inch foam underlayment attached, brand name Mannington Adura Max with locking tongue & groove. Imperfections won’t be an issue. Surface must be smooth and clean, however. I have 3 mil visqueen to cover the old sticky adhesive I did use a cement compound where some of the particle board was broken out or uneven. That is also used for floor leveling by floating it across the surface if one needs to do that. I appreciate the confirmation on my approach, I never want to replace this floor again. The laminate planks have a lifetime warranty.

  4. Avatar

    I am installing vinyl plank flooring and need to remove an existing layer of self stick tiles which were installed on a layer of luan underlayment. I am able to remove the self stick tiles and most of the adhesive pretty easily however there is some residual adhesive still remaining which is tacky. Is there some product I can use to encapsulate this or can I use a layer of visqueen?

    Thanks

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Jon, thanks for reaching out. Have you tried goo-gone or another adhesive remover? Visqueen is very thin and will lay over the adhesive. It is best to get the floor as level as possible. Depending on the type of vinyl you are installing, it could take the shape of the adhesive after pressure is put on the planks.

  5. Avatar

    I am building a separate apartment in my basement. I live in Canada, so I want the floors to be warm enough, and not very hard, as I am putting it on the concrete floor. I have seen a lot of laminate flooring in basements that were peeling off, which I obviously want to avoid. I was wondering if you would still recommend Luxury Vinyl, and without an underlayment?

    Thanks.

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Dordy, thanks for the question. A luxury vinyl will be a good option for a basement apartment. There are several types of vinyl to consider. If you want a softer feel under foot and a hard plank, I’d recommend do an SPC or WPC vinyl with an attached underlayment. These are rigid cores that have dimensional stability and will be soft underfoot with an underlayment. If you opt for a standard LVT, the planks will feel hard underfoot with a concrete subfloor. SPC vinyls tend to be more affordable, so I think this would be best for you! You can take a look at our SPC vinyls here: https://www.bestlaminate.com/vinyl-plank-flooring/search-by-construction/spc/

  6. Avatar

    I am installing vynal plank in my kitchen. I leveled the floor and screwed down a 1/4 inch subfloor. Do I have to cover all the screw holes before I glue down the venal plank, and if I do what product do I use.

  7. Avatar

    Just moved into condo built on a slab. Northeast winters are cold. Laminate flooring will go directly over existing tile. What do I use underneath flooring to help alleviate cold?

    • Tyler

      Hey Cathie, there is really not a padding that is going to keep the floor from feeling cold. Obviously a thicker pad will help, but it still may get cold at times.

  8. Avatar

    I am in the process of removing old tile from my concrete basement laundry room that has a drain. I am planning to use Allure Traffic Master Luxury vinyl Plank flooring on our budget because it is water resistances and from my understanding can be lay directly on the concrete. My question would be would I have to level the floor where the drain slightly dips. Also, would I need to use a any sort of vapor barrier? I live in Michigan, so we get all kinds of weather conditions.

    • Tyler

      Hey Matthew, if the dip is greater than a quarter of an inch, then yes I would level it off. If the material is water proof, no padding or vapor barrier is necessary to put under!

  9. Avatar

    We are having our flooring replaced. We have a concrete subfloor. Thinking of going with Luxury vinyl. This is the main entryway, living area, family room (all high traffic area). What kind of vinyl (2mm or 8mm) and underlayment would be appropriate? We live in Houston, Texas and it gets HOT in summer. We deal with humidity too.

    • Tyler

      Hello! If you want a floating floor, the 2mm option is not going to be for you. That would be a glue down floor since it is so thin. Any thickness vinyl would work though asd it is always going to be waterproof!

  10. Avatar

    I am removing an engineered bamboo floor to replace it with vinyl plank flooring. Could I just leave the underlayment from the bamboo floor?

    • Tyler

      Hey Tom, unfortunately no. Vinyl flooring needs a special padding for vinyl, so one for a bamboo is not going to work for that sort of install. Hope this helps!

  11. Avatar

    Can linoleum flooring be used over radiant heated floor ? If yes, up to what degree of temperature is safe or recommended.

    • Avatar

      Hi Gurmukh, thanks for reaching out. There are many types of radiant heating solutions, and a large variety of linoleum and vinyl flooring options. When purchasing your radiant heating, we recommend finding an option that is made specifically for your type of flooring. Here at Bestlaminate, we offer vinyl plank flooring. It is safe to use most radiant heating solutions beneath vinyl plank flooring; however, we always recommend checking with the manufacturer of the heating. Hope this helps!

  12. Avatar

    Our living room is 12′ x 33′. we plan to put down vinyl plank. What size plank would recommend? Would this be the same size plank for the bathrooms and bedrooms?

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Jim, thanks for the question! It all depends on what style you’re going for. If you want the same look throughout your home, you would want to put the same plank in all the rooms. Most commonly, you’ll find vinyls from 5mm to 8mm in width. If you want more of a rustic or modern look, a wider plank would be nice. A more traditional look, a thinner plank. Keep in mind, if you go with a wide plank, a smaller room may be harder to accommodate. Anything between 5-7mm, you should be fine!

  13. Avatar

    Can you install Lifeproof flooring over an electric floor heat the floor heat recommend underpayment to stop heat lose the electric floor needs to be set in thin set

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Lester, thanks for the question. Most vinyls can be installed over an electric radiant heating system. We do not sell this particular brand, so you would need to refer to the manufacturer instructions or ask the store for more details on this particular brand.

  14. Avatar

    Can you use foam insulation as an ubderlayment for laminated floors and How would you do this?

  15. Avatar

    Dear Bob and Betsy I have a friend who used siding underpayment for their laminate flooring.Although it looks just like the insulating you use under laminate, it says it is combustible..can you use this?

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Martha, thanks for the question. We would NOT recommend using siding underlayment. Flooring underlayment is specifically manufactured to support your floor, aid in moisture prevention and other variables. By using non-flooring underlayment, you run the risk of potential flooring damage with moisture, buckling and more. It will also void your warranty by not using correct materials. Let us know if you have any additional questions!

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