Vinyl Floors are an increasingly popular option for many reasons including their durability and cost effectiveness. There is a wide range of options when it comes to vinyl floors from low cost vinyl floor to very realistic faux stone luxury vinyl tiles or wood flooring made from vinyl.

This article explores whether you need to install underlayment before installing your vinyl flooring.

What is Vinyl Flooring?

The name 'vinyl flooring' covers a very wide range of flooring with one overriding common feature; it is made of synthetic material.

It has many benefits that help to make it one of the most popular flooring choices both in commercial settings and in homes.

Some of these include:

  • Ease of installation.
  • Minimal subfloor requirements.
  • Economical options.
  • Wide range of options to suit all needs and budgets.
  • Hardwearing.
  • Waterproof.
  • Sound absorbing properties.
  • Softer underfoot than many options.
  • Allergen free.

What is Underlay & its Purpose?

Underlay is a layer of material that helps to cushion, protect and add sound proofing and insulation to your flooring. It is commonly used with all types of flooring from carpet, to wooden floors, laminate floors, sheet vinyl, vinyl plank flooring and ceramic tile flooring.

You can get felt, rubber, fibre or foam underlayment depending on the flooring that will be laid on top of it. Some flooring options also come with built-in underlay.

Factors to Consider

Subfloor Condition & its Impact on Vinyl Flooring

If your subfloor is in very poor condition, very uneven or damaged then you might want to consider replacing the subfloor before laying your vinyl.

However, underlay either installed separately or vinyl flooring or vinyl planks with built-in underlayment, as is common to most vinyl floors of good quality, will help to negate any problems with the sub floor. This is the same whether you have a plywood or concrete floor.

Room Location & Environmental Factors (Moisture, Temperature)

Underlay, whether it is built-in or bought and installed separately is particularly useful in helping negate problems that might arise from environmental factors such as additional moisture in bathrooms, the extremes of temperature you get in conservatories, or a requirement to withstand additional heat in a kitchen, for example.

Sound Insulation Requirements for the Space

Whether in a child's bedroom or in a larger commercial space such as an open-plan office where noisy footsteps would disturb others a well cushioned vinyl floor will help absorb sound.

Underfoot Comfort & Cushioning Preferences

When you are considering flooring options the level of comfort and cushioning you want should be a factor that you give thought to. Feeling comfortable and cosy is important in our homes, especially in a bedroom or living room and especially if there are children, elderly people or others for whom falling is an issue.

Benefits of Using Underlay for Vinyl Flooring

Enhanced Durability & Protection for Vinyl Flooring

A layer of vinyl underlay will help to protect the vinyl plank, sheet vinyl or LVT flooring from the impacts and wear and tear of everyday life. This will add to the lifespan of your vinyl floor.

Moisture Barrier Properties of Underlay

Whether your flooring is water-resistant or otherwise adding a layer of underlay for extra moisture-proofing is a good idea. It is particularly good as a moisture barrier for a floating floor.

Improved Soundproofing Qualities with Underlay

A huge benefit of vinyl flooring underlayment, whether you buy underlay separately or buy vinyl tile flooring, sheet vinyl or vinyl plank flooring with built-in is its soundproofing qualities.

Enhanced Thermal Insulation for Comfort

With heating costs at the forefront of many of our minds, the additional thermal insulation that underlay offers us can help keep us comfortable in the colder months and keep heating bills lower.

Instances Where Underlay May Not Be Necessary

Installation over an Existing Cushioned Underlayment or Padding

Placing your new underlay or luxury vinyl flooring complete with inbuilt underlay is not recommended. Old underlay does disintegrate over its lifespan which creates its own dust, it also holds dust that has passed through the old flooring above it. Furthermore, a double layer of underlay will likely make your flooring too spongy, threatening the integrity of the joints between your planks or tiles.

High-quality Vinyl Flooring with Built-in Underlayment

Luxury vinyl flooring, luxury vinyl plank flooring and other high-end, quality vinyl floors such as the Lalegno Rigid Plank Vinyl Floorswe sell at Wooden Floors UK comes with built-in underlay meaning there it does not require underlay or any extra underlayment whatever the type or condition of the subfloor or the room it is being laid in, including bathrooms, rooms with underfloor heating, or those requiring the floor to be soundproofed or be soft underfoot.

Potential Drawbacks of Using Underlay for Vinyl Flooring

Purchasing your vinyl flooring and underlay separately, rather than a vinyl flooring with built-in underlay has a few potential drawbacks.

Firstly, it can be more expensive. Secondly, it can sometimes impact the click-together system of your vinyl plank or lvt flooring. Causing the joints to be unstable. Thirdly, it can raise the floor level making it potentially inconsistent with the adjoining rooms.

Factors on Installation Considerations

Preparation Steps Before Installing Underlay

Ensure that your flooring does not have in-built underlay, or that any of the other potential problems listed above might become an issue.

Different Types of Underlay for Vinyl Flooring (foam, cork, rubber)

You might want to consider environmental impact when it comes to choosing your underlay, if this is true for you a recycled rubber mix underlay is a versatile, durable option with great soundproofing qualities. Cork underlay too is often a sustainable and biodegradable option. Foam and memory foam can provide excellent comfort levels but is also often a more expensive choice.


It is likely if you are buying good quality vinyl flooring, that a separate underlay won't be required as they will often have a built-in underlay.

If the vinyl flooring you are purchasing doesn't have underlay included then make sure you weigh up the costs and other pros and cons from this article before making your purchase. It might be that you can get better quality vinyl flooring for your money because you won't need to buy or install a separate underlayment layer.

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