15.05.18 Advice

Do You Need Underlay for LVT Vinyl Flooring?

Written by: Yarl Christie

When it comes to flooring such as carpets, an underlay is essential to increase the durability of the carpet. An Underlay helps absorb the impact of foot traffic and gives a cushioning effect that makes walking on the floor soft and comfortable.

Given the purpose of an Underlay, does vinyl flooring too need one? Generally, no. But, there are exceptions to the rule.

Why Underlay is Not Necessary for Vinyl Floors

The design of vinyl flooring prevents the need for an Underlay. A vinyl floor usually features a base layer, which serves the purpose of an Underlay thereby removing the need for an additional Underlay.

Vinyl flooring, by its very design, is very stable. As a result, vinyl floors do not wobble or buckle under your feet. Given these reasons, an Underlay is rarely necessary.

Vinyl flooring is highly affordable. Given that you don’t have to separately buy an Underlay, the final cost is further reduced making this floor one of the most sought-after options for the budget-conscious.

When Underlay is Not Necessary

Insulation – You don’t need an Underlay for insulation purposes. Adding an insulating layer, in fact, can cause the floor to become unstable. Vinyl floors are designed for a direct installation over the subfloor. The subfloor needs to be smooth, clean, damage-free and in sound condition. This is the only requirement for installing a vinyl floor.

Covering Minor Subfloor Imperfections – If you are installing vinyl floors using the glue down method, and your subfloor has an uneven surface or other minor imperfections, fret not. No underlay is necessary because glue-down approach can adjust to minor imperfections. What it needs is a dust- and debris-free subfloor!

Vinyl Plank Flooring Using Loose Lay Installation – This type of vinyl flooring comes with a cut-to-fit design. So, there is no adjustment needed to accommodate expansion gaps, which means you will not need an Underlay.

When Underlay Maight Be Necessary

If you are using a click-lock vinyl floor and your subfloor is made of concrete, an Underlay may be necessary.

Check your subfloor for weak spots that can attract water and moisture. If you find such spaces, a vapour barrier Underlay is essential. This Underlay prevents moisture from getting trapped in the planks thereby preventing damage to the floor structure.

Quickstep Transit Sound underlay ideal for using with LVT floors

An Underlay may be used if you want to increase the height of your floor. Your vinyl floor must have a thickness of 4mm or more in such cases. But, it is strongly recommended that you refer to your manufacturer’s instructions before doing so. Using an Underlay where it is not required can nullify your floor warranty.

You can read more LVT flooring advice here.