Do You Need Underlay for LVT Flooring?

When considering the installation of luxury vinyl tile (LVT) flooring, one of the common queries that arises is whether an underlay is necessary. LVT flooring has gained popularity for its durability, ease of maintenance, and the variety of designs available, closely mimicking the appearance of natural materials like wood and stone. However, the question of underlay is not merely about adding an extra layer; it’s about enhancing the overall performance of the flooring.

The Role of Underlay

Underlay serves multiple purposes, regardless of the type of flooring it accompanies. Primarily, it provides a smooth, even surface for the flooring to lie on, which can help prevent wear and tear. It also offers additional insulation, keeping the floor warmer in winter and contributing to a reduction in energy costs. Moreover, underlay can significantly improve the acoustic performance of a room by reducing the sound of footsteps and other noises, a feature particularly valued in flats and multi-storey homes.

LVT Flooring: To Underlay or Not to Underlay?

The necessity of underlay for LVT flooring depends on several factors, including the type of LVT, the condition of the subfloor, and the specific requirements of the space where the flooring will be installed.

  1. Type of LVT: There are generally two types of LVT flooring – click (or floating) LVT and glue-down LVT. Click LVT often benefits from an underlay as it helps to smooth out any irregularities in the subfloor and can provide additional comfort underfoot. Glue-down LVT, on the other hand, may not require an underlay since it is directly adhered to the subfloor, although in some cases, a specific underlay designed for use with glue-down LVT might be recommended to address moisture or sound insulation concerns.
  2. Condition of the Subfloor: The state of the subfloor is a critical factor in deciding whether an underlay is needed. A perfectly smooth and level concrete or wooden subfloor might not necessitate an underlay for glue-down LVT. However, if there are imperfections or concerns about moisture, an underlay can provide a protective barrier, enhancing the longevity of the flooring.
  3. Acoustic and Thermal Insulation Needs: In buildings where sound transmission needs to be minimised, such as apartments, an acoustic underlay can be particularly beneficial. Similarly, in colder climates or in rooms that are prone to feeling chilly, an underlay with good thermal insulation properties can make the space feel warmer and more comfortable.

While not always a necessity, an underlay can significantly enhance the performance and longevity of LVT flooring. It’s essential to consider the specific circumstances of your installation, including the type of LVT, the condition of the subfloor, and your insulation needs. Consulting with a flooring specialist can provide tailored advice, ensuring that your flooring not only looks stunning but also performs optimally for years to come. Ultimately, the decision to use an underlay should be based on a careful consideration of these factors, balancing the initial costs against the long-term benefits it offers. Get in touch with us if you’re looking to potentially install LVT in your home!

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