Does LVT Flooring Need Underlayment? Top 2024 Facts

When selecting flooring like LVT, ponder over the necessity of underlayment. The question “Does LVT Flooring Need Underlayment?” arises. Some people like extra padding for protection under vinyl floors, but others don’t use it because LVT is easy to install. The goal is to complete the flooring and relish its benefits.

So, does LVT (luxury vinyl tile) flooring need underlayment? Most LVT floors have underlayment, and vinyl flooring is waterproof, so it’s usually unnecessary. If you want to protect your floors more, like with soundproofing or for a concrete subfloor, underlayment can help.

To understand better, let’s discuss the best subflooring for LVT floors and underlayment. You don’t usually need underlayment for vinyl floors, but there are important things to consider when adding it to your LVT flooring.

Does LVT Flooring Need Underlayment? Top 2023 Facts

What Is Underlayment?

Choosing the right underlayment for vinyl plank flooring is essential for ensuring the vinyl flooring underlayment provides the necessary support and benefits. This extra layer of material can make all the difference in the longevity and comfort of your flooring.

When you have radiant floor heating at home, picking the right underlayment is key. It helps the heat spread evenly and keeps your floor from feeling cold.

Luxury vinyl flooring is tough and easy to care for, but the right underlayment can make it last longer and work better.

You might ask, “What’s underlayment, and why use it?” Underlayment is a thin layer between your floor and the base of your house. It makes your home warmer, protects your floor from getting worn out, cushions your steps, and makes things quieter.

Underlayment matters because sometimes the base of your house isn’t flat and needs extra cover. For many floors, adding underlayment is a smart move for more protection. But for a lot of LVT floors, you don’t have to use it. The best underlayment for vinyl flooring is important for making your floor sound better and keeping the noise down in busy spots.

How To Tell If You Need Underlayment

Addressing minor imperfections in your subfloor is crucial for a successful vinyl plank flooring installation. The right underlayment can smooth out these imperfections, ensuring your vinyl flooring installation results in beautifully even surface flooring.

To determine if you need underlayment for your flooring, check the type of subfloor in your home. Adding underlayment is a good idea if you have hard and cold floors like concrete. It can cover up small bumps and dips, making a nice, even surface for your vinyl plank flooring. Without underlayment, your floor might feel cold and less comfy under your feet. But if your vinyl already has a cushiony back, your floor is below ground level, or there’s already underlayment, you probably don’t need to add more.

What Type Of Underlayment Do You Use For LVT Flooring?

When dealing with a cement subfloor, the correct floor preparation is essential. The type of subfloor you have will determine whether you need a complete moisture barrier or sound barrier underlayments to protect against potential moisture issues and enhance the long-term performance of your LVT flooring.

While discussing underlayment types, it’s worth mentioning that rubber floor underlayment is a viable option for those seeking superior sound dampening and insulation. This underlayment is particularly beneficial for hardwood floors or buildings where noise vibration reduction is a priority.

In this world, there are many underlayments. But what do you need for a refined finish on LVT floors? The type of pad that you need depends on what kind of subfloor you have. Below are a few different types to help you decide what you need for your flooring. 

  • Concrete subfloors can be harsh and hurt your feet over time. Select an underlay that adds moisture protection, cushioning, and insulation to avoid this.
  • If the floors beneath are uneven, you don’t need a moisture barrier for LVT flooring. In return, an underlay will help with the bumpiness. The type of flooring you choose, whether luxury vinyl plank floors or laminate floors, will dictate the underlayment specifications to ensure a smooth surface and noise reduction.

What About Click and Lock LVT Flooring?

For those considering heat pad options under LVT flooring, ensure the underlayment does not impede the additional heat these systems provide.

Since luxury vinyl tiles are one of the most popular floorings, installation is effortless. Most LVT floors have a lock-and-click system, which makes them more appealing. All things considered, since vinyl flooring is usually thin, adding underlayment may hinder how the floors should be. 

If you are installing your LVT floors over concrete for extra defense, an excellent product to use is a vapor barrier underlayment. It doesn’t add padding but protects your floors from moisture and doesn’t affect the locking process. For those with a wood subfloor, selecting an underlayment that addresses airborne noise and impact noise is essential for a peaceful home environment.

Do You Need Underlayment For Peel & Stick LVT Flooring?

An underlay for vinyl flooring can also be used with peel-and-stick LVT options, providing additional insulation and an extra layer of comfort, contributing to an overall higher level of comfort and optimal performance in multi-level homes.

Luxury vinyl tile floors have underlayment on the planks’ bottom; it is unnecessary. However, if your LVT comes with pre-attached underlayment, it’s designed to facilitate a quicker installation while providing basic acoustic performance. Nevertheless, you can still use underlay for peel-and-stick vinyl flooring. 

As long as the pad is smooth and clean with no dust or dampness on the floors, you can be assured that the LVT floors will go on the padding without a problem. However, if there were grain on the floors, a peel-and-stick tile would get loose over time and come off. If you wish not to deal with this issue, your best route will be to use plywood for a subfloor. Just make sure that with any subfloor, it is even all around.

Other Reasons To Consider Underlayment For LVT Flooring

Underlayment can also significantly manage the transfer between floors, which is especially important in multi-story buildings to ensure privacy and comfort.

Before we move on to the next point, one more thing to mention: compression resistance. If there is a lot of traffic in a room, like the living room or kitchen, it’s better to use underlay. High traffic can damage the floor structure, which is harder to fix later.

If you have pets or children at home or drop drinks from a height, adding underlayment can help. It supports the structure and makes your LVT flooring stronger. When selecting underlayment for vinyl flooring, consider products like cork underlayment or foam underlayment for their insulation properties and acoustic performance.

Can You Use 2 Layers Of Underlay Under Vinyl Flooring?

Some people may want to use two layers of underlayment to protect their floors better, but we do not recommend this. Using one good quality underlayment is more than enough protection. We recommend this because your flooring base becomes too soft and can easily ruin your flooring. Exploring various flooring options and types of underlayment can lead to a more informed decision, ensuring a successful flooring project. You also may void the warranty doing this.  

What Is The Best Underlayment For LVT Flooring?

Now that we know a lot of information, one must ask themselves about the best underlayment for LVT floors. Not all are safe and made with the intention of vinyl floor usage. If you are unsure, look at the manufacturer’s instructions before purchasing. They are each rated in 3 different categories:

  1. STC (Sound Transmission Class): the higher the number, the better the muffling sound you will get.
  2. IIC (Impact Isolation Class), the higher the number, will prevent further insulation and measure impact noise when an object falls on the floor or if someone is walking around upstairs.
  3. R-value (thermal resistance), which is a thermal rating. The higher the number, the less likely heat will be transmitted. Usually, you will see roughly .2 and .4 rating.

Keeping that in mind, here are some of the top 3 contenders with underlayment for vinyl flooring:

2in1 Silent Vapor Barrier Underlayment

Overall, this brand from Bestlaminate will be your best value for your money. It is one of the thinnest underlays, so it does not provide much cushion and has a lower sound rating than others. 2in1 Silent Vapor Barrier also has good sound dampening ratings, is eco-friendly, and is suitable for concrete and wood floors.

  • STC: 65
  • IIC: 70
  • R-Value: .15
  • Thickness: 1.5mm

MP Global Products QuietWalk

Being an all-in-one type of underlayment, it is one of the top qualities for vinyl floors. Featuring many qualities, Global Products can be recycled, is free of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), is sturdy, and provides extra cushion, sound damping, warmth, and a moisture barrier. Not only this, but it is a very durable product and is applied for floating and gluing down LVT plank flooring systems.

  • STC: 66
  • IIC: 71
  • R-Value: .58
  • Thickness: 3.2mm

STEICO Wood Fiber Flooring Underlayment

It is an engineered natural wood fiber product made by a German company. It is environmental and ecological and comes in flat sheets for those who do not want to roll out their underlayment. If you are installing it on a concrete slab, a moisture barrier is recommended between the underlay and the concrete floors. The installation of vinyl flooring can be straightforward, but the right underlayment will address moisture issues and contribute to the flooring’s warmer feel during colder months.

  • STC: 55
  • IIC: 50
  • R-Value: .5
  • Thickness: 6mm

How To Install Underlayment

Proper moisture barrier installation is a step that cannot be overlooked, especially when working with cement board as your subfloor or in areas with high air humidity.

If you wish to get an underlayment for your vinyl floors, remember a few key points. Installation should not be an issue and is relatively easy to do. You typically do not need to attach the underlayment to the floor, but in specific areas, such as frequently used doorways and rooms with a lot of natural sunlight, it would be a good idea to use adhesive in those sectors.

Here is a quick and easy guide for installation:

  1. Make sure the subfloors are cleaned thoroughly. Get rid of all dirt, dust, and any other debris the floors may have. Make sure the surface is washed and thoroughly dried. If your subflooring is plywood, do not mop; instead, use a vacuum with high suction power.
  2. Place the material in the opposite direction of the flooring.
  3. Beginning in a corner, roll the underlayment out to the other side of the room, keeping the shiny side up.
  4. Leave 2 inches around the edges on all sides, which will be trimmed off after the flooring is installed.
  5. Pieces installed previously may butt up against each other but never overlap.
  6. With clear packing tape, seal the seams through the length.

Does LVT Flooring Need Underlayment FAQs

Can you install LVT without underlayment?

Yes, you can install Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) without underlayment if the subfloor is smooth, flat, and in good condition. However, underlayment can provide additional benefits such as sound reduction, moisture protection, and a softer underfoot feel.

Is underlayment necessary for luxury vinyl plank flooring?

Underlayment is not always necessary for luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring, but it can be beneficial for smoothing out subfloor imperfections, providing moisture protection, and improving sound and thermal insulation.

Can you install LVP directly on the subfloor?

Yes, you can install luxury vinyl plank (LVP) directly on a subfloor, provided that the subfloor is clean, dry, level, and in good condition. Any cracks, dips, or bumps should be addressed before installation to ensure the best results and to prevent issues with the flooring over time.

Is LVT with built-in underlay any good?

LVT with built-in underlay can be quite effective, offering easier installation, improved comfort, better sound insulation, and sometimes a moisture barrier. However, its performance depends on the quality of the product and the specific installation environment.


When considering underlayment for your LVT flooring, it’s advisable to consult with reputable suppliers like Floor City to explore a range of options and ensure you’re making an informed purchase.

Using an underlayment with your LVT flooring most of the time is deemed unnecessary since vinyl flooring comes with underlayment added to it. It can still add a great feature to your home, especially if the luxury vinyl plank flooring you get has 6 layers instead of 4. Adding that extra padding will provide more comfort and warmth to your everyday lifestyle. So, deciding what is best for your lifestyle is a must before choosing both your floors and underlayment.


Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.