Unveiling the Necessity of Underlayment for Vinyl Plank Flooring: A Comprehensive Guide

Unveiling the Necessity of Underlayment for Vinyl Plank Flooring: A Comprehensive Guide

You’re considering vinyl plank flooring for your home, aren’t you? It’s a great choice with its durability and sleek look. But there’s one question that might be playing on your mind: Do you need underlayment for vinyl plank flooring?

The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think. It depends on various factors like the type of vinyl plank, the condition of your subfloor, and even the specific brand’s recommendations. Let’s dive in and explore these factors to help you make an informed decision.

Remember, when it comes to home improvement, every detail counts. And the underlayment for your vinyl plank flooring is no exception. It could be the difference between a floor that lasts for years, and one that needs replacing sooner than you’d like. So, it’s worth taking the time to get it right.

Key Takeaways

  • The need for underlayment with vinyl plank flooring varies based on the type of vinyl plank, the condition of the subfloor, and the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP), Woven Vinyl Plank, and Rigid Core are the three most common types of vinyl plank flooring. LVP needs underlayment depending on the subfloor and manufacturer’s advice, Woven Vinyl Plank might require underlayment for soundproofing or insulation purposes, and underlayment for Rigid Core depends on the manufacturer’s suggestions and desired comfort level.
  • Underlayment enhances vinyl flooring’s performance by providing noise reduction, smoothing out subfloor irregularities, and enhancing thermal insulation. The selection of underlayment, however, should be based on the condition of the subfloor and the type of vinyl plank flooring.
  • The condition of the subfloor, type of vinyl flooring, desired comfort and sound insulation, and thermal insulation are factors to consider when deciding on the use of underlayment.
  • Brands like Shaw Floors, Armstrong Flooring, Mohawk, and Mannington have unique underlayment recommendations for their vinyl plank flooring products, varying from requiring a separate underlayment to offering products with an attached underlayment.
  • Making the right underlayment choice involves considering the type of subfloor, level of noise reduction desired, brand of vinyl plank flooring, location of the flooring, and your budget.

The use of underlayment for vinyl plank flooring is essential for durability and comfort underfoot. Flooring Inc explores different underlayment materials that provide soundproofing and insulation. Home Depot discusses the benefits of each type, including foam and cork.

Types of Vinyl Plank Flooring

Types of Vinyl Plank Flooring

Now that we’ve explored why you might need an underlayment let’s dive into understanding the types of vinyl plank flooring. While there may be a multitude of options out there, we’ll focus on the three most common varieties in the market: luxury vinyl plank (LVP), woven vinyl plank, and rigid core.

Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) sits atop the popularity list. This type’s fame can be attributed to its high-quality appearance that mimics natural hardwood. What’s striking is its multi-layer architecture that ensures durability and comfort. The need for underlayment in LVP is subjective – dependent upon the existing subfloor condition and manufacturer’s recommendations.

Moving on, we have Woven Vinyl Plank. This variant offers an exciting blend of textures. Its key feature is the woven pattern that lends an elegant yet distinct character. High traffic areas in your home would greatly benefit from its sturdiness. The underlayment requirement for woven vinyl could differ based on the intent of use – be it soundproofing or insulation.

Lastly, there’s the Rigid Core vinyl. As the name suggests, it inherits its strong resilient nature from the dense core layer. If you’re dealing with an uneven subfloor, this type could be your saving grace as it can dampen irregularities effectively. To decide on underlayment here, scrutinize your manufacture’s suggestions and weigh it against your desired comfort level.

By now, you should have an idea of the diverse world of vinyl plank flooring. Remember, each type comes with its advantages and potential underlayment needs. So, be careful in considering these things when deciding. The right choice can go a long way in ensuring the longevity of your flooring, doing wonders for the overall aesthetic of your home. Now, let’s move on to discussing the importance of the subfloor in your underlayment decision.

Importance of Underlayment

Importance of Underlayment

Before jumping straight into the installation process, it’s crucial that you grasp the vital role underlayment plays in enhancing the overall performance of the vinyl plank flooring. It does more than just lying beneath your flooring. It’s an unsung hero that significantly determines the durability, comfort and sound absorption qualities of your new floor.

A key benefit of incorporating underlayment is noise reduction. Foot traffic or any activity on rigid flooring can produce sounds, which is where a good quality underlayment comes in. It contributes to soundproofing properties, keeping your space hushed and free from disturbing squeaks or echo.

When it comes to subfloor irregularities, underlayment is like a make-up concealer. It smoothens out any minor imperfections, providing a level and supportive base for the top layer of vinyl plank flooring. As a result, the appearance of your flooring won’t be compromised by pesky bumps or indentations caused by a faulty subfloor.

Moreover, the underlayment assists in enhancing thermal insulation. This thin layer inserted between the subfloor and the vinyl plank flooring serves as an additional barrier against cold and heat. With better insulation, a cozier environment is ensured, offering you comfortable barefoot strolls even during winter months.

However, not all types of underlayment are suitable for every situation. The effectiveness of your underlayment highly depends on the condition of your subfloor and the type of vinyl plank flooring being used, whether it’s LVP, woven vinyl plank or a rigid core variety. Make informed decisions in selecting the right underlayment based on these factors in order to reap the maximum benefits of your flooring.

Stay tuned for a closer inspection on how to tailor this choice to your unique circumstances in the subsequent sections of this article.

Factors to Consider

Factors to Consider

Taking previously discussed benefits into account, let’s now consider some crucial factors that can influence your decision to use or skip underlayment for vinyl plank flooring.

Subfloor Condition – The condition of your subfloor plays a vital role in whether or not to use underlayment. Whether you’re dealing with a concrete subfloor or a wooden one, ensure it’s smooth and free of any bumps or dips. If you find any irregularities, an underlayment can be your best mate. It’ll become an extra layer between the subfloor and the flooring, smoothing out minor imperfections.

Type of Vinyl Flooring – Some vinyl plank flooring options come with an integrated underlayment. If you’ve opted for a luxury vinyl plank, you may not even need another underlayment. But, don’t let this comfort sideline the condition of the subfloor. Always assess the situation accurately, and determine whether additional underlayment will offer more advantages.

Comfort and Sound Insulation – Special attention needs to be in place if you’re after a cozy and quiet environment. Underlayment offers effective sound reduction, minimizing noise from footfall. Especially if you’re installing the floors in high-traffic areas or upper floors, the echo can get quite excessive without it.

Thermal Insulation – An often overlooked factor, thermal insulation should be on your checklist. Your choice in this aspect can influence your home’s overall energy efficiency. Underlayment can offer a thermal barrier, helping control indoor temperature and resulting in saving on heating or cooling costs.

Underlayment Recommendations by Brands

Brands vary significantly when it comes to underlayment recommendations for vinyl plank flooring. Renowned brands provide guidance that helps enhance the flooring’s performance and longevity. Let’s explore some of the top brands in the industry and their take on underlayment.

Shaw Floors, a prominent name in the flooring industry, suggests that a good underlayment can be crucial, especially in conditions where the subfloor isn’t perfect. It helps smooth out minor subfloor imperfections. Shaw also emphasizes that its vinyl plank flooring is designed to be installed on a smooth, flat surface. So, underlayment becomes a pivotal part when the subfloor texture isn’t ideal.

Next on the list is Armstrong Flooring, significantly known for its rigid core vinyl plank flooring. Besides offering luxury and long-lasting features, Armstrong stresses the importance of underlayment for enhanced comfort. This brand has specific underlayment products designed to provide unmatched support to its flooring, exhibiting better stability and comfort.

Mohawk, a global leader, includes an attached underlayment with several of its vinyl plank flooring products. This eliminates the need for a separate underlayment, making installation quick and effortless. The built-in underlay extends the life of the floor while reducing noise and providing additional warmth.

Mannington, another leading brand, acknowledges that while some of their product lines come with an attached underpad, others may require separate underlayment. The brand explicitly states that underlayment not only provides added sound absorption but also adds a cushioning effect that enhances walker comfort.

Selection of the correct underlayment is key, and each brand has its unique approach. Understanding the specific underlayment guidelines of the brand you have selected will ensure optimal flooring performance and energy efficiency.

Making the Right Choice

Choosing the right underlayment for your vinyl plank flooring is no minor decision. It’s a crucial step that can notably determine the lifespan and functional performance of your flooring. So, how do you make this critical decision?

First and foremost, you should consider the type of subfloor you have. Different subfloors require varying underlayment materials.

  • Concrete subfloors may necessitate a moisture barrier to preempt any wetness seeping upwards.
  • Wooden subfloors on the other hand can perform well with standard foam underlayments.

Next, ponder the level of noise reduction you desire. If you crave a quieter environment, spring for an underlayment with superior sound absorption properties.

Thirdly, take into account the brand of your vinyl plank flooring. As previously discussed, established brands like Shaw Floors, Armstrong Flooring, Mohawk, and Mannington all propose specific underlayment recommendations for their products. Being aware of these guidelines can help maximize your floor’s comfort, durability, and energy efficiency.

Another point to consider is the location of your vinyl plank flooring. Is it a high-traffic area or a space where comfort is the number one priority? If it’s the former, focusing on durability might be wise – think about an underlayment that enhances wear resistance. If it’s the latter, an underlayment that increases comfort, such as ones with thermal properties or cushioning, could be the right pick.

Lastly, factor in your budget. While a top-grade underlayment may appear as the ideal choice, it’s not worth breaking the bank over. Remember that each brand offers a range of selections catering to different needs and price points.

Remember, every aspect counts when it comes to making this decision. So, take the time to examine your requirements closely, and aim for a balance that suits your specific needs best. Using this strategic approach, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the right underlayment for your vinyl plank flooring.


So, you’ve learned that underlayment isn’t just an add-on, but a crucial part of your vinyl plank flooring project. It’s about more than just the type of subfloor you have or the brand of flooring you choose. It’s also about the level of noise reduction you desire, the specific location of the flooring, and your budget. Remember, the right underlayment can significantly boost your flooring’s comfort, longevity, and energy efficiency. So, don’t overlook it. Take your time, weigh your options, and make a choice that’ll enhance your vinyl plank flooring experience. Your feet, your home, and your wallet will thank you.

Why is the underlayment for vinyl plank flooring important?

Underlayment plays a pivotal role in enhancing the durability, comfort, and performance of your vinyl plank flooring. It affects the longevity of the flooring and how well it withstands various stressors.

How does the type of subfloor affect underlayment selection?

The choice of underlayment can be influenced by whether the subfloor is concrete or wood. Wood subfloors may require different underlayment options compared to concrete to ensure optimal performance and minimize potential damage.

What role does noise reduction play in selecting underlayment?

Noise reduction is a key factor, especially in high-traffic areas or multi-story homes. The right underlayment can greatly reduce the transmission of sound, creating a quieter and more comfortable living environment.

How do brand-specific recommendations influence the underlayment choice?

Brands like Shaw Floors, Armstrong Flooring, Mohawk, and Mannington offer specific recommendations for underlayments based on their products. These guidelines can ensure optimal compatibility and performance of the flooring.

How should the flooring location influence underlayment choice?

For high-traffic areas, durability should be prioritized, while comfort might be more important in bedrooms or living areas. The right underlayment can deliver the necessary durability or comfort, depending on the location.

How can budget constraints influence underlayment decisions?

While a good underlayment can enhance the functionality and longevity of your flooring, it’s important to factor in the cost. Aim for an underlayment that offers a balance between quality and affordability to get the most from your investment.