Do you Need Underlayment For Vinyl plank flooring?

No, You don’t.

As long as you got a flat subfloor, you do not need underlayment to install vinyl floor. In this case, this decision is entirely up to you depending on the environment you are in and the purpose of the room. You can use an underlayment if you want but you don’t have to use it to install vinyl flooring.

What is an Underlayment?

vinyl flooring underlayment
vinyl flooring underlayment

Underlayment for vinyl plank flooring means a material that is placed between the planks and the subfloor during installation. It acts as an extra cushion for comfortability underfoot, helps in soundproofing and thermal insulation.

The job of the underlayment is to add to what the top floor has to offer and give it a better finish and make the home more habitable.

Underlayments come in different thicknesses depending on the floor laid on them. For vinyl, however, because it’s thin, the underlayment for vinyl is also thin, about 1 mm-1.5 mm thick. Using a thick underlayment for vinyl flooring will make the joints, where the planks click, weaker.

Purpose of Underlayment for Vinyl Flooring?

As discussed above, you don’t need underlayment for vinyl flooring. However, in some instances, you will need to use it.

These instances include:

  1. Uneven subfloor
  2. Moisture
  3. Comfortability

Uneven subfloor

uneven subfloor
uneven subfloor

For proper installation of vinyl flooring, the floor must be smooth and even enough to prevent issues like bending or warping when weight is added to the top floor. However, this only works if the subfloor has only minor dents. In instances, when you have big holes, the best thing to do is to fill them up.

Moisture

When installing vinyl flooring in a wet area like the basement or if the area you live in is prone to floods, an underlayment with a built-in water barrier should be installed.

This will help prevent moisture attacks on the floor and give you long-term protection.

Comfortability

comfortabilty by floor underlayment
comfortability by floor underlayment

For everyone, the perfect home is a comfortable home. We cannot talk about comfortability without talking about how the floor feels underfoot. This is in terms of adding extra cushion and making sure the floor does not feel too cold during cold days.

The advantage of an underlayment is that it does both. It reduces thermal insulation beneath your floor and adds cushion for your feet giving you a significantly improved experience.

For any real estate investor, these features add value to the property.

When is an underlayment not necessary when installing vinyl flooring?

An underlayment is essential when installing vinyl flooring; however, there are various times when you don’t have to use it. It’s a gamble because you might void your warranty, but sometimes it is just not necessary.

The Top 5 Underlayments for Vinyl Plank Flooring

There is a wide range of underlayments to choose from, but not all underlayments used for laminate flooring can be used.

The Top 5 best Underlayments for Vinyl flooring are:

  • First Step 630 Square Foot Roll Underlayment
  • Floor Muffler LVT/LVP Ultra seal Underlayment
  • STEICO Wood Fiber Flooring Underlayment for Laminate Vinyl LVT LVP Hardwood Floor
  • 2 in 1 Silent Vapor Barrier Underlayment for Vinyl Flooring
  • QuietWalk Laminate Flooring Underlayment with attached Vapor Barrier

First Step 630 Square Foot Roll Underlayment

FeaturesProsCons
Thickness 3mmAffordableWhen cutting, the polystyrene foam balls scatter making it messy ans difficult to clean
R-Value 39Lightweight and easy to storeIt can rise up along the edges if not properly weighed down during installation
STC Rating 67The polystyrene beads even out minor floor imperfectionsIt can compress in case of high foot traffic.
IIC Rating 68Easy to install 
Comes with a polystyrene layer of beads for extra cushion & AirflowComes with an adhesive strip to enable attaching one roll to the other for easy installation 
Can be used on concrete and wood subfloor  

Floor Muffler LVT/LVP Ultra seal Underlayment

FeaturesProsCons
STC Rating of 66Easy to installBecause of its thickness, it is delicate and can be ripped off if not handled with care during installation
IIC Rating of 72Comes with a moisture barrier. Can therefore be used in wet areas.It is expensive
R-value of 3It is 1 mm thick and is therefore lightweight. About 3.99 pounds.It does not provide an extra cushion. It is very thin
1 mm thicknessHas a good R-value and can be used with radiant heating floors 
Suitable for wood or concrete subflooringOffers superior acoustic properties 
Can be double glued down or floated  
It is compression resistant  

STEICO Wood Fiber Flooring Underlayment for Laminate Vinyl LVT LVP Hardwood Floor

FeaturesProsCons
STC Rating of 55  It is durableThe most expensive underlayment. Because of its natural properties.
IIC Rating of 50Offers great acoustic properties. Guarantees the best soundproofing 
R-Value of 5Provides extra cushion, improving the comfort of the room. 
6mm thicknessHas a high compression strength 
Comes in sheets as opposed to most underlayments which come in rolls Environmentally friendly. No VOC’s no glue. Enhances safety and value of the property 
Suitable for installation over wood subflooring Comes with a long warranty 
It is an engineered natural wood fiber product held together by wood resin.Has a very good R-Value rating. Ideal for floors with radiant heating 

2 in 1 Silent Vapor Barrier Underlayment for Vinyl Flooring

FeaturesProsCons
IIC Rating of 70Quick & Easy installationDoes not come with a warranty
R-value of 0.15Environmentally friendly and 100% recyclableIt is thin and therefore does not add any extra cushion to the floor
The thickness of 1.5mmIt comes with a moisture barrier protection 
STC Rating of 65Reduces noise by providing sound absorption 
 It is economical 

QuietWalk Laminate Flooring Underlayment with attached Vapor Barrier

FeaturesProsCons
STC Rating of 66It is durableIt is expensive
IIC Rating of 71Moisture protection. The attached barrier protects the overlying floor from moisture attacksExtra duct tape is needed as the adhesive strip is generally narrow
R-Value of 0.58Approved for in-floor radiant heat systems 
3.2 mm thicknessEasy to install.Rolling out and joining the seams 
Can be installed over wood or concrete subfloorCertified clean and safe for indoor use 
Made from safe recycled VOC free compressed fibersSuperior sound reduction features 
Comes with a warrantyCompression resistant 

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