What is the best underlay for vinyl and LVT flooring?

What is the best underlay for vinyl and LVT flooring?

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Vinyl and luxury vinyl tiles are becoming increasingly popular in British homes, and we can understand why. They’re both stylish and versatile and have amazing properties that make them great for your home. Although they may share the word vinyl in their names, they’re quite different, and the type of underlay you may need for them will also differ.

We don’t have a preferred underlay for LVT flooring, but we do know a lot about the available different types of underlay, and in this guide, we’re going to share all the pros and cons to help you decide which one would work best for you. 

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Flexible LVT Underlay

What is LVT or vinyl underlay?

Answering the easiest question first, let’s address what underlay is. Underlay is a layer that can be made of different materials that sit between your subfloor and the flooring you can see. Your subfloor is normally made from concrete, wooden planks, or a composite material, and is the base layer of your house’s flooring.

Underlay acts as a barrier between your flooring and your subfloor, providing lots of different benefits to your flooring - like keeping it quieter when you walk on it, staying warmer for longer and making sure it doesn’t get damaged.

Now when it comes to vinyl and luxury vinyl tiles, there are some differences between these two floorings we should make sure everyone knows about before they buy underlay. Vinyl, also known as sheet vinyl, comes in large rolls, so it doesn’t need an underlay. LVT often comes as separate pieces or planks that click together, and this means underlay will need to be bought separately. But the type of underlay that you need for LVT is going to depend on a variety of factors. 

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What is the best underlay for vinyl flooring?

Uunderlays are not necessary for most vinyl floors. A well-cushioned vinyl floor should work fine on its own if the surface is level and smooth. The most important factor when laying vinyl flooring is ensuring your subfloor is smooth, clean, dry, and sound enough for your vinyl to lay on top. If your subfloor has any bumps or inconsistencies, then it’s likely they will show over time. Always ensure your subfloor is clean, dry, smooth, sound and even before fitting vinyl flooring

What is the best underlay for LVT click flooring?

Because luxury vinyl tiles are laid as floating floors, they require an extra layer of protection from the subfloor to avoid any bouncing or separation of the tiles or planks. All of our click LVT comes with built-in underlay. However, the LVT flooring you choose will need to meet a few different requirements depending on the room you’re fitting it in:

  • Moisture-resistant – If the room you’re fitting LVT in is likely to see a lot more moisture than average (such as a kitchen, bathroom, or wet room) and your subfloor is floorboards, then you’ll want to ensure the underlay you pick has good water-resistant properties to ensure it doesn’t get damaged and protects the subfloor. We sell a variety of water-resistant LVT and vinyl that should ensure you never need to worry about a wet subfloor.
  • Thickness – the thickness of your underlay will affect the way your LVT looks. Picking the right thickness is important to ensure your underlay isn’t going to put stress on the joints and make them separate or even break. Your underlay also shouldn’t be too thin, as this could cause your LVT flooring to bounce or even split. It’s designed to be super durable, but you want to ensure you’re providing the best conditions for your LVT flooring to last as long as possible.
  • Material – all of the above factors can be addressed by the type of material you choose for your underlay. Combination underlays containing felt may not be best for LVT that’s going in an environment where it might get wet, like the bathroom or kitchen. Crumb rubber underlays may not feel as soft underfoot as a sponge rubber underlay if you’re using LVT in a bedroom or living room.
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Underlay FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions our floorologists regularly answer, just in case you might be thinking of them yourself:

Do you need underlay for sheet vinyl flooring?

No. You don’t need an underlay for sheet vinyl floors, as they come with a built-in layer for softness and durability. Tapi’s vinyl flooring comes with either a soft, firm, or felt backing with various benefits. Our in-store floorologists or our home consultants will be delighted to recommend the best one for you.

What underlay is best for luxury vinyl flooring on concrete?

Concrete subfloors can be porous and hold onto moisture, so ensuring you have an underlay called a Damp Proof Membrane or DPM that acts as a good barrier to moisture is important with concrete subfloors. 

What underlay is best for luxury vinyl flooring on floorboards?

You need to fit plywood on the subfloor first before you lay a luxury vinyl floor over wooden floorboards. A denser underlay that can handle the slight shrinkage and growth of your wooden subfloors during different times of the year will ensure that your top layer of flooring doesn’t feel any different during cold or hot periods.

If you have any more questions, or you’d like to discuss your options for vinyl and luxury vinyl flooring, why not book a free home appointment or free store visit to chat with our experts? You can even pop by your local Tapi store to check out our samples and discover your new favourite flooring! You can also find out which underlay is best for carpets, how to lay LVT flooring, and other helpful guides in our Ideas Hub.


Published: 01-12-2022