Do you need underlayment to vinyl plank flooring?

No, You don’t.

Technically, as long as you got a flat and smooth subfloor to install vinyl plank floorings, you do not need an underlayment. 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 on 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 1mm-1.5mm thick. Using a thick underlayment for vinyl flooring will make the joints where the planks click, weaker.

Why would you need 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. Un-Even subfloor
  2. Moisture
  3. Comfortability

i. Un-even 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. The best way to make sure you do not encounter these irregularities is by installing an underlayment.

However, this only works if the subfloor has only small/minor dents. In instances, when you have big holes, the best thing to do is filling them up.

ii. Moisture

In some cases, you might be worried about mold and mildew attacks especially if you are installing vinyl flooring in a wet area like the basement or if the area you live is prone to floods. In such an instance, you should install an underlayment that comes built-in with a water barrier.

This will help prevent moisture attack to the floor and give you long-term protection.

iii. Comfortability

comfortabilty by floor underlayment
comfortabilty 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 investors,this features adds 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.

Vinyl planks come in various types and some of them are made with inbuilt underlayments, in this case using an extra underlayment will be a waste of resources. It is not cost-effective. Best underlayment for vinyl flooring.

The Top 5 Underlayment for Vinyl Plank Flooring

There is a wide range of underlayments to choose from. Even some of the underlayments used for laminate flooring can be used but not all. In this case, this is a compilation of the top 5 best vinyl flooring underlayments.

First Step 630 Square Foot Roll Underlayment

FeaturesProsCons
Thickness 3mmAffordableWhen cutting, the polystyrene foam balls scatter making it messy ans difficult yto 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 incase of high foot traffic.
IIC Rating 68Easy to install 
Comes with a polystyrene layer of beads for extra cushion & Air flowComes with an adhesive strip to enable attaching one roll to the other for easy installation 
Can be used on concrete and wood subfloor  
2. 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 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  
3. 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 rooms comfort. 
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 
4. 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
Thickness of 1.5mmIt comes with a moisture barrier protection 
STC Rating of 65Reduces noise by providing sound absorption 
 It is economical 
5. QuietWalk Laminate Flooring Underlayment with attached Vapor Barrier
FeaturesProsCons
STC Rating of 66It is durableIt is expensive
IIC Rating of 71Moisture protection. Attached barrier protects overlying floor from moisture attacksExtra duct tape 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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