Best Underlayment For Vinyl Plank Flooring: Everything You Need To Know

Are you installing vinyl flooring and want to learn about the best underlayment for vinyl plank flooring? Vinyl plank flooring has become popular among homeowners due to its durability, versatility, and aesthetic appeal. Whether renovating your home or building a new one, choosing the right underlayment for your vinyl plank flooring is essential. In this article, we will explore the best underlayment options and provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

When it comes to Choose vinyl plank flooring, underlayment plays a crucial role in enhancing its performance and longevity. The right underlayment can provide numerous benefits, including soundproofing, insulation, and moisture protection. In the following sections, we will explore the various underlayment options and the factors you should consider before choosing.

What is Underlayment?

Underlayment refers to a material layer installed between the subfloor and the vinyl plank flooring. It acts as a barrier, providing support, cushioning, and protection to the flooring above. The best underlayment for vinyl plank flooring also helps to smooth out any imperfections in the subfloor, ensuring a level and stable surface for the vinyl planks.

Importance of Underlayment in Vinyl Flooring Installation

Underlayment is an essential component when installing vinyl plank flooring. It serves several important purposes that contribute to the overall performance and longevity of the flooring system. Here are some key reasons why underlayment is important for vinyl plank flooring:

  • Moisture Protection: Underlayment is a barrier against moisture that may seep through the subfloor. Moisture can cause damage to the vinyl planks over time, leading to warping, swelling, or mold growth. A moisture-resistant underlayment helps prevent these issues, especially in damp areas like basements or bathrooms.
  • Subfloor Imperfections: Underlayment helps create a smooth surface for the vinyl planks to be installed on. It helps to level out any minor imperfections in the subfloor, such as small bumps or depressions. This ensures the vinyl planks lay flat and securely, preventing premature wear or damage.
  • Sound Insulation: Underlayment provides acoustic benefits by reducing noise transmission. It helps to dampen sound and minimize the impact of footsteps or other activities on the vinyl flooring. This is particularly important in multi-story buildings or rooms where noise reduction is desired, such as bedrooms or offices.
  • Thermal Insulation: Underlayment can provide a layer of thermal insulation, which helps improve the room’s energy efficiency. It is a buffer between the cold subfloor and the vinyl planks, making the floor more comfortable, especially in colder climates.
  • Added Comfort: Underlayment can enhance the overall comfort of the vinyl plank flooring. It provides a slightly cushioned feel underfoot, reducing the floor’s hardness and making it more comfortable to stand or walk on for extended periods. This can be especially beneficial in areas where people spend a lot of time standing, such as kitchens or retail spaces.
  • Protection from Subfloor Contaminants: Underlayment helps to protect the vinyl planks from potential contaminants present in the subfloor, such as dust, dirt, or residues. These contaminants can affect the adhesion and performance of the flooring, leading to premature wear. Underlayment acts as a barrier, preventing the transfer of these substances to the vinyl planks.

Types of Underlayment for Vinyl Flooring

Various types of underlayment are available in the market, each with its unique characteristics and benefits. Let’s explore some of the best underlayment for vinyl plank flooring:

Cork Underlayment

Cork underlayment is an eco-friendly option known for its excellent sound-absorbing properties. It provides thermal insulation, resists mold and mildew, and is compatible with radiant heating systems. Cork underlayment is also a sustainable choice as it is made from the bark of cork oak trees, which can be harvested without causing harm to the tree.

Foam Underlayment

Foam underlayment is lightweight and easy to install. It offers good sound absorption and cushioning properties, making it a comfortable choice for vinyl plank flooring. Foam underlayment is also moisture-resistant, ensuring the longevity of your flooring.

Rubber Underlayment

Rubber underlayment is highly durable and provides excellent impact resistance. It is ideal for high-traffic areas and offers superior sound insulation. Rubber underlayment is moisture-resistant, making it suitable for areas prone to spills or humidity.

Felt Underlayment

Felt underlayment is made from recycled fibers, making it an eco-friendly option. It provides sound reduction properties and helps to smooth out minor subfloor imperfections. Felt underlayment is also moisture-resistant and helps to increase the lifespan of your vinyl plank flooring.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Underlayment

When selecting the best underlayment for vinyl plank flooring, consider the following factors:

Moisture Resistance

Ensure that the underlayment you choose has good moisture resistance properties. This is particularly important for areas prone to moisture, such as basements or bathrooms. Moisture can cause damage to both the underlayment and the vinyl planks, so choosing a moisture-resistant option is essential.

Soundproofing Properties

If noise reduction is a priority, opt for an underlayment with excellent soundproofing properties. This is especially relevant for multi-story buildings or rooms where noise reduction is desired, such as bedrooms or home offices.

Thermal Insulation

Consider the thermal insulation capabilities of the underlayment. A good insulating underlayment can help maintain a comfortable indoor temperature and reduce energy costs.

Subfloor Compatibility

Ensure that the underlayment is compatible with your subfloor material. Different types of underlayment work better with specific subfloors, so check the manufacturer’s recommendations before making a decision.

Installation Method

Consider the ease of installation when choosing underlayment. Some options come with self-adhesive or interlocking features, making the installation process simpler and more efficient.

Installation Techniques and Tips for Underlayment

Proper installation of underlayment is crucial to ensure its effectiveness. Follow these steps for a successful installation:

  • Preparation: Clean the subfloor thoroughly, removing debris, dust, or uneven spots. Ensure that the subfloor is dry and level before proceeding with the installation.
  • Acclimation: Allow the underlayment to acclimate to the room temperature and humidity for at least 48 hours. This step ensures that the underlayment adjusts to the conditions of the space before installation.
  • Installation: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the underlayment. Depending on the type, you may need to secure the underlayment with adhesive, staples or simply lay it down.

Maintenance and Care of Vinyl Plank Flooring with Underlayment

To keep your vinyl plank flooring in optimal condition, clean the flooring regularly using a broom, vacuum cleaner, or damp mop. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive tools that can damage the flooring or underlayment.

Take preventive measures to protect the flooring from scratches or dents. Use pads under heavy furniture, and avoid dragging or dropping sharp objects on the floor—additionally, place doormats at entrances to prevent dirt and debris from scratching the surface.

Benefits and Considerations of Underlayment for Vinyl Flooring

Using the best underlayment for vinyl plank flooring has several pros and cons. Let’s examine them:


  • Enhanced Comfort: Underlayment provides a cushioned layer that adds comfort underfoot. It helps reduce the floor’s hardness and makes walking or standing more comfortable.
  • Sound Reduction: Underlayment is a sound barrier, reducing floor noise transmission. It helps dampen footsteps and absorbs impact sound, making it ideal for multi-story buildings or areas where noise reduction is desired.
  • Moisture Protection: Certain types of underlayment offer moisture resistance, providing a protective barrier against moisture seeping through the subfloor. This is particularly beneficial in damp areas, such as basements or bathrooms.
  • Subfloor Imperfection Mitigation: Underlayment helps to level out minor imperfections in the subfloor, ensuring a smooth and even surface for the vinyl planks. It prevents the planks from sinking into uneven spots, reducing the risk of premature wear or damage.
  • Thermal Insulation: Some underlayment options offer thermal insulation properties, providing a layer of insulation between the subfloor and vinyl planks. This helps improve energy efficiency by reducing heat loss, making the floor warmer and more comfortable, especially in colder climates.


  • Increased Cost: Underlayment adds cost to the flooring installation. The price varies depending on the type and quality of underlayment chosen. Considering the budget and overall project costs when using underlayment is important.
  • Height Increase: Underlayment can slightly raise the overall height of the flooring. This may cause issues with door clearance, especially if the underlayment and vinyl planks are installed in a confined space. Proper planning and adjustments may be required to accommodate the increased floor height.
  • Limited Necessity: In some cases, underlayment may not be necessary. Underlayment might not provide significant benefits if the subfloor is already smooth, even, and free from moisture issues. It’s important to assess the specific installation requirements and follow manufacturer recommendations.
  • Reduced Stability: Certain underlayment materials may affect the stability of the vinyl planks. If the underlayment is too soft or compressible, it can compromise the integrity of the flooring system. Selecting an underlayment suitable for the specific vinyl plank flooring being installed is crucial.
  • Installation Complexity: Installing underlayment adds a step to the flooring installation process. It requires proper preparation, cutting, and fitting to cover the entire area. This can increase installation time and complexity, especially for DIY projects.


Choosing the best underlayment for vinyl plank flooring is essential to maximize its performance and longevity. Consider factors such as moisture resistance, soundproofing properties, thermal insulation, subfloor compatibility, and installation method. Each type of underlayment offers unique benefits, so select the one that best suits your needs and preferences. With proper installation and regular maintenance, your vinyl plank flooring with underlayment will provide a beautiful, durable, and comfortable surface for years.


1. Can I install vinyl plank flooring without underlayment?

Yes, it is possible to install vinyl plank flooring without underlayment. However, underlayment can provide added benefits such as soundproofing, insulation, and moisture protection.

2. Can I use underlayment over existing vinyl flooring?

In most cases, installing underlayment over existing vinyl flooring is unnecessary. However, if the existing flooring is uneven or in poor condition, using underlayment can help create a smoother surface for the new vinyl plank flooring.

3. Is underlayment required for floating vinyl plank flooring?

While underlayment is not always required for floating vinyl plank flooring, it is highly recommended. Underlayment helps to improve the overall performance, comfort, and longevity of the flooring.

4. Can I use the same underlayment for all types of subfloors?

No, different types of underlayment are designed for specific subfloors. Choosing an underlayment compatible with your subfloor material is important to ensure proper installation and performance.

5. How do I know if my underlayment is moisture-resistant?

Check the manufacturer’s specifications and product details to determine if the underlayment has moisture-resistant properties. Look for features such as a vapor barrier or water-resistant materials.

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