Shopping for new flooring and underlayment can be an overwhelming process. There are so many options out there, and it is important to know if you need underlayment for your vinyl flooring installation. The type of subfloor you have and the type of vinyl plank flooring you install will determine if you should use a vinyl flooring underlayment.
Why Do I Need Underlayment?
Flooring underlayment is a thin layer of material that is usually made out of foam, cork, or rubber. It is placed on the subfloor beneath your flooring and serves a few important functions:
- Helps floating floors like vinyl plank or laminate float properly
- Helps protect your flooring from moisture
- Helps provide extra cushioning
- Helps dampen underfoot sound
- Helps cover up minor subfloor imperfections
- Helps provide additional insulation
Underlayment by Subfloor Type
Choosing the right underlayment for your project depends on the type of subfloor you have. Whether it’s concrete, wood, or an existing floor like tile or hardwood, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover the perfect underlayment for your subfloor.
When installing vinyl plank flooring on a concrete subfloor, we always recommend to use underlayment with a moisture barrier. This is because moisture can seep through the concrete from the ground, and protecting your floors from potential moisture damage is essential. Additionally, concrete can become cold during winter months, and using underlayment can provide thermal insulation, keeping your flooring warmer. The type of underlayment needed will depend on the type of vinyl plank flooring being installed and whether it already has a pre-attached underlayment. Please refer to the section below for further guidance on selecting underlayment by vinyl flooring type.
When installing vinyl flooring on wood subfloors, there is no need to be concerned about moisture barrier installation. However, we do advise using underlayment to enhance the floating of your flooring, add cushioning, and reduce sound. The specific type of underlayment required will vary depending on the type of vinyl plank flooring and whether it already includes a pre-attached underlayment. Please see the section below for more guidance on selecting the appropriate underlayment based on the type of vinyl flooring.
Please note, underlayment also be a requirement for certain HOA or apartment complexes to have a sound barrier with your flooring. We recommend double checking any requirements prior to installing in a condo/apartment association or HOA.
When installing vinyl floors over an existing subfloor like tile or linoleum, the same rules apply as for a wood subfloor. You don’t need to worry about moisture barrier installation. However, using underlayment is recommended to improve the floating of your flooring, provide cushioning, and reduce sound.
If you’re installing over tile, remember to fill in grout lines and uneven areas. Before installation, ensure that the flooring is in good condition. The specific underlayment required will depend on the type of vinyl plank flooring and whether it already has a pre-attached underlayment. Refer to the section below for more guidance on choosing the right underlayment for your vinyl flooring.
Underlayment by Vinyl Flooring Type
When it comes to installing vinyl plank flooring, there are four main types to consider. Understanding which type you have will help you determine if underlayment is needed. Here’s a breakdown of each type for easy guidance:
- Vinyl plank flooring with pre-attached underlayment: This type already comes with a built-in underlayment, making installation a breeze.
- Vinyl plank flooring without pre-attached underlayment: If your vinyl plank flooring doesn’t have a pre-attached underlayment, you’ll need to install one for added protection and comfort.
- Glue down vinyl plank flooring: This type requires adhesive to securely attach the planks to the subfloor, providing a durable and long-lasting installation.
- Loose lay vinyl plank flooring: With this type, the planks are designed to lay directly on the subfloor without the need for glue or adhesive, making installation quick and easy.
By knowing the type of vinyl plank flooring you have, you can confidently choose the appropriate underlayment or installation method for a successful flooring project.
1. Vinyl plank flooring with pre-attached underlayment
Vinyl plank flooring with pre-attached underlayment comes with a built-in underlayment. As the name suggests, the flooring already has underlayment attached, so this is a very convenient option as you do not have to worry about purchasing and installing padding separately. The pre-attached underlayment is usually made out of foam, cork, or rubber.
If you’re installing on a cement subfloor, it’s important to use a vapor barrier for added protection. We recommend using our Visqueen Vapor Block PE Film in these situations. This moisture barrier safeguards your floor from any potential moisture that may rise up from the subfloor. By preventing ground moisture from seeping through the concrete, this added layer ensures long-term floor protection.
Vinyl plank flooring with pre-attached underlayment has become a very popular option due to its convenience and ease of installation. Most of our Bestlaminate vinyl plank floors come with premium pre-attached underlayment, making installation quick and easy. Browse our collection here.
2. Vinyl plank flooring without pre-attached underlayment
Vinyl plank flooring without pre-attached underlayment does not come with padding. To ensure added cushioning and protection, we recommend purchasing underlayment separately. Underlayment is essential for allowing floating floors to properly float on the subfloor, preventing moisture damage, correcting minor subfloor imperfections, and reducing noise.
If you are installing over a wood subfloor, we recommend:
- Bestlaminate Standard Flooring Underlayment: This underlayment provides stability, noise reduction, and supports the locking systems between planks for the best end result. It is an affordable and practical choice, making it our most popular option for wood subfloors.
For installations over a cement subfloor, it is important to choose an underlayment with a moisture barrier. This will protect your flooring from any moisture seeping up from the subfloor. We recommend:
- Blue Vapor 3-in-1 Flooring Underlayment: This 3-in-1 underlayment includes standard underlayment with an attached moisture barrier, tape for easy installation, and overlap for moisture protection. This vapor underlayment is ideal for cement subfloors where there is a possibility of moisture rising up from the subfloor.
3. Glue down vinyl plank flooring
As the name suggests, glue down vinyl plank flooring requires adhesive to securely attach the planks to the subfloor, providing a durable and long-lasting installation. Since the planks are glued directly to the subfloor, there is no need for underlayment.
Having a clean and level subfloor is crucial for a successful glue down vinyl flooring installation. This ensures that all planks adhere uniformly, preventing any future problems.
4. Loose lay vinyl plank flooring
When installing a loose lay vinyl plank floor, you can skip the underlayment. Unlike other vinyl plank floors that require glue, nails, or a click to lock system, loose lay flooring uses special materials that grip the subfloor. This means you can install the planks directly on top of the subfloor without any extra padding. Just make sure your subfloor is level, just like any other vinyl installation.
We hope that our guide has provided you with clarity on the ideal underlayment for your vinyl plank flooring installation. If you still have any questions regarding the necessity of underlayment for vinyl plank flooring installation, our team is ready to assist you in finding the best options for your project. Get in touch with one of our knowledgeable flooring experts today!
Still have questions on if you need an underlayment to install vinyl plank flooring? Contact one of our flooring experts today!