Installing vinyl plank flooring can transform any room with its stylish, waterproof, and easy-to-clean surface. But did you know that choosing the right padding is also essential for getting the best performance from your new floors? Proper underlayment provides crucial moisture protection, sound insulation, and cushioning to make those vinyl planks last.
You’ll learn about the different padding options for various subfloor types and vinyl flooring materials. We’ll also give pro tips for getting your padding fitted and prepped before those first planks go down.
Why Do You Need Padding Under Vinyl Planks?
Padding might seem like an unnecessary extra step, but it serves several vital functions:
- Moisture barrier protection
- Thermal insulation
- Sound insulation
- Smooth out minor subfloor imperfections
Moisture Barriers Are Critical
Padding creates a protective layer to block moisture from seeping up from concrete and compromised wood subfloors. Even small amounts of moisture can damage vinyl plank flooring by causing the planks to warp, expand, contract, or discolor.
Added Insulation Perks
Quality vinyl padding also provides extra insulation against both cold and noise. This keeps rooms warmer and quieter once your new flooring is installed. The thermal resistance and density of the padding material impact insulating performance.
Now let’s explore when you can potentially forego underlayment padding…
When Can You Skip the Padding?
Attached pad plank flooring products may or may not require additional padding depending on several factors:
Assess Your Attached Pad Thickness and Condition
If the vinyl plank’s attached foam layer is thick and in good condition, supplementary padding may not provide benefits. However, thinner or worn attached padding will likely need underlayment replacement for both longevity and sound isolation.
|Attached Pad Thickness
|Extra Padding Needed
|Thick and new
|Thin or worn
Follow The Manufacturer’s Guidance
Always reference the flooring manufacturer’s installation specifications for that exact product. Many vinyl plank brands still advise adding supplemental padding regardless of any attached cushioning layers.
Now let’s dive into the best padding options for different subfloor situations…
Choose the Right Padding for Your Subfloor
Finding padding compatible with your specific subfloor is key for proper vinyl plank installation. From concrete to plywood, here are our top recommendations:
Since concrete readily transfers moisture, waterproof padding is critical. Closed-cell foam or cork provide both a protective barrier and thermal insulation. Alternatively, recycled rubber pads are durable options gaining popularity for below-grade concrete installation.
Plywood or OSB Subfloors
On upper levels, wood subfloors are less prone to moisture seepage from below. Felt, foam, or rubber padding all work on plywood/OSB providing some sound and thermal insulation. Closed-cell foam offers optimal resistance if subfloor moisture issues still persist.
Always use padding products approved by your vinyl plank flooring manufacturer to prevent voiding warranties.
Existing Tile or Sheet Vinyl
Padding helps smooth imperfections if installing over existing hard surfaces. Thin foam or cork do the trick without taking up too much floor height. Double check below the old flooring first to ensure no underlying moisture before prepping.
Ready to learn about picking padding for different plank flooring materials? Let’s explore…
Factor In Your Vinyl Plank Flooring Type
The construction and installation method of your specific luxury vinyl or composite tile should guide padding selection too:
Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP)
Modern waterproof LVP often has attached foam backing layers. If thick enough, additional underlayment can be forgone. If further sound dampening is desired, then thin foam or cork padding won’t compromise the flooring structure while adding acoustic benefits.
Composite Vinyl Tile (CVT)
Traditional softer composite vinyl requires high-density padding support to prevent indentations. Felt or rubber provide a durable protective base for heavy furniture without cushioning too much. This keeps these floors dent-free under pressure.
Glue-down vinyl installations require very thin foam to maintain optimal adhesive contact with the subfloor beneath according to professionals. In contrast, popular floating click-together plank systems perform great with thicker foam, cork, or rubber padding giving that extra cushioning factor.
Let’s explore a few more key considerations for picking the perfect vinyl plank underlayment…
Other Considerations for Choosing Padding
Beyond material factors, room function, warranty terms, and your renovation budget can also guide padding decisions for vinyl plank floors.
Consider How Rooms Are Used
For kitchens and bathrooms choose padding with maximum moisture barriers like closed-cell foam. Bedrooms and basements will benefit from sound-deadening rubber and cork instead.
Ensure Thickness Compatibility
Review vinyl plank flooring thickness specifications before selecting padding. Combined total thickness must meet flooring system limits for proper installation and performance per the manufacturer.
Pick Brand-Approved Products
Using manufacturer recommended and warranted padding brands ensures your flooring warranty stays valid during its lifetime.
Factor in Subfloor Repairs
For extremely uneven or damaged subfloors, thicker padding can smooth out more inconsistencies from below. But take caution with total floor system height requirements still in mind.
Cheap foam may seem tempting but can degrade quickly leading to loose planks over time. Ultimately, picking quality vinyl plank padding protects your flooring investment in the long run. Now let’s get into pro tips for properly installing underlayment…
Top 6 Tips for Installing Your Padding
Once you’ve selected the right padding, proper installation is vital. Follow these pro steps for success:
- Sweep and vacuum subfloor first
- Roll out padding perpendicular to planks
- Trim to fit with utility knife
- Tape seams with waterproof tape
- Ensure snug fit around edges
- Never overlap padding under planks
1. Clean Subfloor Surface
Remove all debris, dirt and dust to keep padding clean contacting the bare floor. Tack or vacuum thoroughly including perimeter edges.
2. Roll Out Perpendicular
Install padding rolls perpendicular, 90 degrees to the vinyl plank flooring direction. This properly offsets seams from aligning below any joined planks.
Properly installing quality vinyl plank padding brings durability, acoustic benefits, and protection from moisture damage over time. We hope these complete pro padding tips set your next vinyl floor covering project up for long-lasting success.
Still have any other questions about picking or installing underlayment for vinyl plank floors? Ask our friendly experts below in the comments!
Here are some common vinyl plank padding FAQs:
- What’s the best padding thickness for sound insulation?
- Is recycled rubber pad safe under my vinyl flooring?
- Can I install vinyl planks over old vinyl padding?