Home Flooring Guides Do you need underlay for LVT flooring?

Do you need underlay for LVT flooring?

Luxury vinyl flooring is becoming an increasingly popular choice for family homes and businesses alike thanks to its affordability, durability and ease to maintain. Continue reading our guide to find out more about what underlay is and whether it’s useful when installing your brand new LVT floor.

3 min read

13th Jun 23

wood effect flooring lvt in living room

Underlay for LVT flooring

Suitable for most rooms throughout the home, from bathrooms to kitchens and utility rooms, one question that is often asked is whether or not underlay is needed with glue-down LVT flooring.

The simple answer is that you won’t usually need any underlay with luxury vinyl tiles, making it one less expense, and one less thing to worry about; that’s because LVT is fixed directly to a firm base, known as the subfloor, using an adhesive. But if you are looking for additional noise reduction or heat retention then installing an underlay as an insulator beneath the subfloor can be a great idea.

What is underlay?

First things first: what is underlay? Most of us are familiar with underlay from our experience with carpets where it’s an essential add-on, providing additional comfort underfoot as well as making your carpet last longer. Flooring underlay is also used beneath ‘click’ style hard floor system, such as laminate floors, to even out lumps and bumps in the subfloor and to help reduce, but not eliminate, the noise and movement when it’s walked on.

avebury stone lvt flooring in dining room

Why underlay isn't necessary for LVT flooring

But underlay is one add-on you won’t need to think about when it comes to installing luxury vinyl flooring in your property. That’s because glue-down LVT is fixed directly to the solid, flat subfloor – usually a smoothed-over concrete floor downstairs, and more commonly upstairs, plywood – creating a singular, rigid and smooth flooring surface. Compared to floating floors there’s absolutely no movement in the floor resulting in a more premium overall feel underfoot.

And, as you can imagine, gluing the luxury vinyl tiles or planks to a soft underlay material would result in a wobbly, unstable surface, not to mention a lot of mess – not really what you want for your new LVT floor! All this, means there’s simply no underlay required at all.

One of the main differences between glue-down LVT flooring and other laminate flooring or luxury vinyl flooring click systems (also known as ‘floating’ floors) is that they are laid unsecured on top of your subfloor, often with an underlay below, and because of this, they can be fitted onto less well-prepared subfloors.

Whilst this can make things quicker and easier to install, the trade-off is that they are more expensive to purchase while being noisier underfoot, more prone to movement and far less water tight. For glue-down LVT flooring, such as Harvey Maria planks and tiles, you can avoid the hassle and additional cost of unnecessary underlay – simply prepare a nice smooth subfloor and fit your LVT directly onto it, and get a much better finish to boot!

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how to replace lvt tiles

Can underlay make my floor feel softer?

Underlay, as the name suggests, sits beneath the surface of the floor, but it’s the floor surface itself that will determine the degree of softness underfoot ie. fitting underlay beneath a smooth floor won’t make the smooth surface feel any softer.

So if you are looking for a smooth floor with a softer, or even spongy surface then you may prefer our premium rubber flooring collections which combine durability with softness, or if you are on a budget, then ‘cushion vinyls’ – usually available on a roll – may be an option, although their softness means they tend to be less durable and more likely to rip or tear.

Will underlay make my room warmer and quieter?

While underlay won’t make the surface of your floor feel any softer, we are often asked if it can provide additional sound or heat insulation in your property. The answer is yes, although this will usually be achieved more cost-effectively by installing insulation material, designed for noise and/or heat insulation, in the void beneath the subfloor and ceiling below.

Adding insulation here will not only reduce heat-loss through the ceiling in rooms below, but also provides noise reduction in the rooms above and below, and will do so far more effectively than any underlay. And as modern buildings will have been constructed with heat insulation and moisture barriers at ground level, virtually all heat loss in buildings is through the walls and roof, meaning adding additional underlayment insulation at ground level is wasted as it will have virtually no effect on the warmth of your room – especially when over 99.9% of heat will be lost elsewhere through doors, windows, walls and roofs.

black and white chequerboard in kitchen lvt

What are the benefits?

The biggest benefit to not having an underlay with your LVT flooring is that you’ll be getting even better value for money. Luxury vinyl flooring is an option often chosen for its affordability without any compromise on style. Not having to include an underlay makes luxury vinyl tiles an even more economical choice when renovating your space.

What’s more, you can expect your LVT flooring to be more durable and robust compared to other products on the market such as click and lock vinyl flooring or laminate flooring. This is because they bond directly with your subfloor, meaning there’s no movement and therefore less chance of tiles lifting up or suffering from water damage.

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