Do I need underlayment to install vinyl plank flooring? This is a question we get daily! It is important to know if you need underlayment or not with a vinyl flooring installation. Unlike laminate flooring, most vinyl floors are designed to lay directly on top of the subfloor. The type of vinyl flooring and type of subfloor you have will determine if you are able to use a vinyl flooring underlayment.
Before installing a vinyl floor, you will need to make sure your subfloor meets these requirements:
- In good condition
- Free of damages
- Clean & dust free
If you are installing your vinyl plank flooring over a concrete subfloor, you may want to use an underlayment for three reasons. First, it will give you some added cushion to help make the floor softer to walk on. Second, you may want an extra vapor barrier above the subfloor to reduce any risk of moisture. Lastly, underlayments can provide thermal properties to help keep the flooring warmer in cold months.
For vinyl flooring installations over wood subfloors, you will not need to worry about a moisture barrier, but you may want an underlayment for added cushion or sound reduction. It may also be a requirement in certain HOA or apartment complexes to have a sound barrier with your flooring.
When you’re installing vinyl floors over an existing subfloor, such as tile or linoleum, you can use an underlayment for added cushion and sound reduction. Moisture will not be an issue for you in this case.
Keep in mind that an installation over tile should include filling in any grout lines and uneveness. Also, you will want to make sure the flooring is in good condition before installing over it.
Vinyl Flooring Differences:
After assessing your subfloor needs, it is important to know the different types of vinyl installation that are available. The type of vinyl will impact your decision whether you need to purchase underlayment to install vinyl flooring or not.
Click Lock Vinyl Plank Flooring
Click Lock Vinyl flooring has a locking system that is similar to laminate flooring, but it typically has a thinner construction. With new advances in luxury vinyl flooring, options now range from 2mm to 8mm+.
The rule of thumb is any vinyl over 4mm can have a vinyl specific underlayment. With thinner vinyl flooring construction, adding a foam underlayment can effect the locking system strength. Vinyl floors under 4mm should be installed right over the subfloor. If you have any areas on a concrete subfloor with moisture concerns, it is recommended to use a vapor barrier underlayment that will not add any cushion to the planks.
For click lock vinyls over 4mm, you’ll want to choose an underlayment specific to a vinyl floor, such as our Perfect Mat Underlayment or Floor Muffler. These underlayments are usually under 2mm. It is important to read the manufacturer instructions before installing an underlayment to ensure it will not void your warranty.
Using a vinyl flooring underlayment can help reduce noise, soften the feel under foot and aid in moisture protection.
WPC or SPC Vinyl Plank Flooring
Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) vinyl flooring and Stone Plastic Composite (SPC) vinyl flooring is the newest innovation in vinyl flooring. WPC and SPC vinyl are more dimensionally stable and usually come in a thickness of over 4mm. For click lock WPC and SPC vinyl flooring, you can install it with a vinyl flooring underlayment, or directly on top of the subfloor.
Higher end WPC and SPC vinyl floors may come with an attached underlayment. This typically adds cushion, a vapor barrier and sound reduction to the floor. If your vinyl already has an attached underlayment, you should not add any additional cushion to the planks.
Glue Down Vinyl Plank Flooring
Glue down vinyl plank flooring will not need an underlayment. You will install these planks by glueing them directly on top of the subfloor. It is very important to have a debris free and level subfloor for a glue down vinyl flooring installation!
Loose Lay Vinyl Plank Flooring
If you’re installing a loose lay vinyl plank floor, you will not need an underlayment. These can be installed directly on top of the subfloor without any other
Still have questions on if you need an underlayment to install vinyl plank flooring? Drop us a comment below!