Underlayment for Vinyl Sheet Flooring

When it comes to installing vinyl sheet flooring, choosing the right underlayment is crucial for both the durability and comfort of your floor. The underlayment serves various purposes, including providing support, insulation, and sound reduction, while also helping the flooring to last longer.

In this article, we will explore the importance of underlayment for vinyl sheet flooring, as well as the different types available and the factors you should consider in your selection process. This information will help ensure you make the best choice for your specific needs and create a comfortable, long-lasting floor.

Types of Underlayment for Vinyl Sheet Flooring

When choosing the right underlayment for your vinyl sheet flooring, it’s essential to consider the different types available on the market. In this section, we will explore three popular types: plywood, cement board, and foam underlayment.

Plywood Underlayment

Plywood is a common choice for underlayment as it provides a smooth, solid surface ideal for vinyl sheet flooring. It is typically available in various thicknesses, with 1/4-inch being the most popular:

  • 1/4-inch thickness
  • 3/8-inch thickness
  • 1/2-inch thickness

One advantage of plywood is its affordability compared to other types of underlayment. However, it may not offer the same level of moisture resistance as cement board underlayment or foam underlayment.

Cement Board Underlayment

Cement board underlayment is more expensive than plywood but offers superior moisture resistance, making it a good choice for areas with high humidity or potential water damage. Cement boards are available in two standard thicknesses:

  • 1/4-inch thickness
  • 1/2-inch thickness

In addition to moisture resistance, cement boards also provide excellent sound absorption and improved stability for your vinyl sheet flooring.

Foam Underlayment

Foam underlayment is ideal for adding extra cushioning and insulation to your vinyl sheet flooring. It comes in various thicknesses and densities to meet specific needs:


While foam underlayment can improve the comfort of walking on the floor, it may not provide sufficient moisture resistance or structural support compared to cement board or plywood underlayment.

Benefits of Underlayment

Underlayment for vinyl sheet flooring offers various advantages that contribute to a more comfortable and long-lasting flooring experience. In this section, we will explore the benefits of underlayment, focusing on improved insulation and sound reduction, enhanced durability and stability, and a smooth substrate for flooring installation.

Improved Insulation and Sound Reduction

Underlayment plays a crucial role in enhancing both thermal and acoustic insulation in your floors. By adding this extra layer, you can:

  • Reduce heat loss: Underlayment helps retain warmth in the room, providing an energy-efficient solution.
  • Minimize noise transmission: With effective sound absorption properties, underlayment can reduce impact and airborne noise, creating a quieter living environment.

Enhanced Durability and Stability

A proper underlayment can significantly increase your vinyl sheet flooring’s lifespan and stability. It does this by:

  • Distributing weight evenly: Underlayment helps disperse the pressure from foot traffic, furniture, and other loads, reducing the risk of indentation or damage to the flooring material.
  • Providing added support: With a stable foundation, underlayment can help prevent shifting, buckling, or warping of vinyl flooring.

Smooth Substrate for Flooring Installation

The third essential benefit of underlayment is ensuring a smooth and even surface for vinyl sheet flooring installation. An underlayment:

  • Corrects minor subfloor imperfections: A quality underlayment can help hide small irregularities in the subfloor, allowing a flawless finish.
  • Ensures better adhesion: By providing a smooth and level surface, an underlayment promotes proper adhesion between the flooring material and the subfloor, resulting in a more secure installation.

Important Factors to Consider

When installing underlayment for vinyl sheet flooring, there are several key factors to consider in order to achieve the best results. We will explore the considerations in the following sub-sections.

Material Compatibility

It is important to ensure that the underlayment material is compatible with the vinyl sheet flooring. Failure to do so can lead to uneven surfaces or damage to the flooring. Some commonly used underlayment materials compatible with vinyl sheet flooring include:

  • Plywood
  • Cement board
  • Foam or rubber underlayment

Subfloor Preparation

Proper subfloor preparation is crucial for the optimal performance of any underlayment. Before installing the underlayment, it is essential to check that the subfloor is:

  1. Level and free from any debris, nails or staples
  2. Free from any moisture or mold issues
  3. Not damaged and is in good condition

If any of these issues are present, they should be addressed before proceeding with the installation.

Moisture Barrier Requirements

Moisture can be a significant issue for vinyl sheet flooring, and the right moisture barrier can help create a long-lasting floor. Depending on the location and conditions, moisture barriers can range from 6 mil polyethylene sheets to more advanced products.

LocationMoisture Barrier TypeAdvantages
On or above grade subfloors6 mil polyethylene sheetBasic protection against moisture transmission
Below grade subfloorsAdvanced moisture barriersHigher protection and more resistant to moisture

Always consult the flooring manufacturer’s recommendations for specific moisture barrier requirements.

Best Practices for Installation

Choosing the Right Type of Underlayment

When choosing the right type of underlayment for vinyl sheet flooring, it is important to consider factors such as subfloor material, moisture levels, and installation method. Common underlayment options include:

  • Plywood
  • Foam or cork
  • Hardboard or particleboard

Plywood is generally recommended for its durability and resistance to moisture, but alternatives like foam or cork may be more suitable for installations over concrete subfloors or in rooms with high moisture levels.

Properly Securing the Underlayment

Properly securing the underlayment is crucial to ensure a smooth and stable surface for the vinyl sheet flooring. Some methods include:

  1. Using screws or nails to attach the underlayment to the subfloor.
  2. Applying floor patch or leveling compound to fill any gaps or seams.
  3. Using adhesive or glue to secure the underlayment, particularly in cases where fasteners may not be suitable due to the subfloor material.

Seaming Techniques and Materials

Seaming techniques and materials play a vital role in the overall appearance and performance of vinyl sheet flooring. Popular seaming techniques are:

Overlap SeamingOne sheet of vinyl is placed over the other, then trimmed and secured together, creating a clean seam.
Butt SeamingTwo sheets of vinyl are butted together, followed by the use of a seaming tape to ensure a strong bond.

Choose the most suitable technique based on the flooring pattern and personal preference. Properly executed seams will ensure a continuous and visually appealing result.

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