Luxury Vinyl Tiles are lauded for a whole host of reasons. They are water resistant, they have various levels of scratch resistance (Luvanto’s is commercial quality), and they are very easy to clean and take care of. However, one question we are often asked is whether LVT needs an underlay.
What is Underlayment?
Underlayment refers to the material being laid between the subfloor and the floor that is being fitted. It is placed to instil a range of benefits on the flooring that’s being laid above it. Some of those benefits are:
Do you need underlay for luxury vinyl tile flooring?
The very simple answer to the question of whether or not you need underlayment with luxury vinyl tile flooring is NO; there is typically no need. That being said, it’s worthwhile to install an underlayment if the LVT suggests you can use one, for example, for additional insulation or soundproof properties.
In the following section, we will be going over where luxury vinyl flooring underlay can be applied, and where it doesn’t need to be used.
Where can underlayment be applied?
The main thing to understand about where underlayment can be applied is what type of core your LVT has. To keep things simple, LVT underlay entirely depends on the type of core you have and will correspond with the format of flooring you purchase.
The two types are:
- LVT Glue Down
- LVT Click
It’s important to explain the two types so you understand why there’s a difference between the possibility of installing underlay for click vinyl flooring vs gluedown.
LVT Glue Down
LVT Glue Down is named as such due to its installation method, which consists of applying adhesive to the subfloor and fitting the floor directly to it. This is considered a highly stable installation method, but a much harder product to install than Click.
The rules regarding underlay for click vinyl flooring are different for a couple of reasons. Click refers to the installation method of combining the clickable joints of the floor to create a “floating floor”. Floating floors are not at all unique to LVT, but they follow the same rule – that it’s best to install an underlayment if required.
Considering the floor doesn’t touch the sub-floor, it’s easy for an uncertified installer to poorly install the flooring and create imperfections in the surface, which will reduce both the visual appeal, feel and longevity of the floor. Also, whilst walking on floating floors, you can usually feel the hollowness of the space between it and the subfloor. This can be lessened by your LVT click either having an underlay or being a rigid core product. However, it is always recommended to have a smooth, flat and stable surface to lay your floor onto.
Benefits of LVT Underlay
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of luxury vinyl floor underlay in more detail.
Underlayment is made of high-density foam that has noise-absorbing qualities much like a carpet. It reduces the noise made against the floor by around 16-20 decibels, which is comparable to the amount of sound made by whispering.
That may not sound like much, but consider this: 60 decibels is the sound of a normal conversation between two people. With this sound-absorbing underlay for vinyl flooring, up to 40 decibels are blocked, making said conversation almost inaudible.
Considering walls also factor into soundproofing and reduce decibels by 30-40, then overall, 50-60 decibels will be trapped in a room from all angles except the door, which will suffer a 20 decibels loss. Nonetheless, this is a great quality to have in a home improvement decision.
For both installation methods, an underlayment will increase the amount of comfort your floor is capable of. Gluedown floors are tied directly to the subfloor. Although LVT itself is comfortable, warm and firm.
As far as LVT Click goes, not having an underlayment, built-in or otherwise, will result in a hollow harder sound when you walk on the floating floor. This may be disconcerting to some, as it may prompt you to question how solid your floor truly is. Having doubts like this can cause a reduced feeling of comfort in your own home, which is a feeling that is never welcomed.
With your luxury vinyl flooring underlay intact, the correct floor preparation prior to installation should provide a secure feeling to the floor. Overall, the installation and comfort will make your family feel secure, your visitors jealous, and your feet thankful.
Installing LVT includes preparing the subfloor, and an important part of that ordeal is to test the surface regularity of the subfloor it is below 75% and the humidity in the room is a similar level.
The subfloor has to be cleaned thoroughly and any debris removed before putting down the Click LVT flooring. If this is not properly done, there can be audible popping or the feeling of unevenness beneath the floor. Your vinyl flooring underlay can reduce a lot of issues surrounding this problem, as the imperfections will affect the look of the underlay, but not your vinyl flooring. There will be little difference in click products, even with vinyl click flooring underlay, as the floating floor will be above the subfloor and its imperfections.
There are not a lot of grounds for failure when it comes to LVT underlay. If you find yourself asking “do I need underlay for vinyl flooring”, remember that the biggest factor in whether or not you need one is whether your floor is made with PVC or Rigid Core. If you want more information regarding LVT, Luvanto offer an LVT Training Course.
Luvanto Products offers both within its catalogue of products:
- Luvanto Design (gluedown): PVC
- Luvanto Herringbone: PVC
- Luvanto Click: Rigid Core (underlay for click vinyl flooring is not always present in alternative click products)
- Luvanto Endure: Rigid Core
Regardless, if you’re not sure, you should ask. Always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If there is no underlayment, there’s next to no reason not to use it with Click flooring, unless it is not suitable for the LVT flooring option you choose. Its benefits are too good to ignore.