Choosing your flooring is one of the most important tasks when updating a room in your home. Along with choosing the right style, color, and flooring type, you need to also choose the best underlayment for your flooring. If you’ve chosen vinyl flooring and have a concrete subfloor, you’ll want to make an educated decision on the best underlayment to choose as it’ll act as the foundation for your floor. Choosing the wrong underlayment could lead to a host of problems including low moisture absorption or noisy floors.
Learn the importance of choosing the right underlayment for your vinyl flooring on concrete, factors to consider when choosing the right underlayment, my favorite underlayment options, and essential installation tips.
- Underlayment is a crucial component of a successful vinyl flooring installation on concrete. It provides moisture protection, insulation, comfort, and sound reduction.
- Before installing underlayment, the concrete subfloor should be clean, dry, and level. Low spots can be filled with a self-leveling compound, and high spots can be sanded down.
- Select an underlayment with a moisture and vapor barrier to protect the vinyl flooring from potential damage caused by moisture absorption.
- Cork, foam, and rubber are top underlayment options. Cork is eco-friendly and offers excellent sound reduction. Foam is affordable but may lack moisture protection. Rubber is durable and provides superior sound reduction but can be more challenging to install.
Why is Underlayment Important for Vinyl Flooring on Concrete?
Vinyl flooring underlayment for vinyl plank is an often overlooked but crucial component of a successful vinyl flooring installation. It serves as the foundation for your vinyl planks, creating a protective barrier that offers:
- Moisture protection
- Sound reduction
Paul McCrae, renovations contractor of over 12 years says the manufacturer of the vinyl flooring will usually specify globally what the underlayment requirements are.
“Generally speaking, if you’re adding underlayment on concrete you want to create a thermal barrier so that the floor remains warm.”
While some luxury vinyl flooring and laminate flooring products come with an attached underlayment, many floor types require a separate underlayment to be installed on top of the subfloor.
When it comes to installing vinyl flooring on concrete subfloors, the importance of underlayment can’t be overstated. Concrete, being porous, can easily absorb moisture, causing damage to your vinyl flooring if not properly protected. Also, concrete subfloors generally lack insulation and sound absorption properties, which enable a comfortable living space.
A key function of the underlayment is to provide moisture protection. When it comes to vinyl flooring on concrete, the underlayment serves as a protective barrier between the concrete subfloor and the vinyl planks, preventing moisture damage and mold growth.
To achieve this, a vapor barrier is often employed to prevent moisture from reaching the subfloor, thereby avoiding the growth of mold beneath the vinyl flooring. This is an essential component of vinyl flooring on concrete subfloors, as unchecked moisture can lead to costly damage and unhealthy living conditions.
Insulation and Comfort
Walking on concrete all day gets extremely uncomfortable. Underlayment provides insulation and comfort by adding cushioning and insulation beneath the vinyl flooring, in between the concrete subfloor.
Cork and thicker foam options are great choices for luxury vinyl plank flooring on concrete. They offer superior insulation and sound absorption properties, making them an ideal choice for vinyl flooring on concrete, enhancing comfort levels and energy efficiency.
Another important aspect of underlayment is its ability to reduce sound transmission. A good underlayment can absorb and diminish noise, resulting in a quieter and more pleasant environment. This is particularly important in multi-story buildings, where sound from footsteps and other activities can easily travel through floor assemblies.
Felt underlayment is a popular choice for sound insulation and noise reduction for vinyl flooring on concrete. Other materials that are suitable for sound blocking include:
- Oriented Strand Board (OSB)
- Medium-density Fibreboard (MDF)
- Cement board
- Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)
Factors to Consider When Choosing Underlayment for Vinyl Flooring on Concrete
Now that we understand the importance of underlayment for vinyl flooring on concrete, let’s talk about the factors that should be considered when selecting the right underlayment for your project.
Thickness and Density
The thickness and density of the underlayment are important considerations when selecting the right underlayment for your vinyl flooring on concrete. The appropriate thickness and density will depend on the specific vinyl flooring product and the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Underlayments intended for vinyl plank flooring, such as vinyl plank flooring underlayment, usually range from 1 to 3 millimeters in thickness. When you install vinyl plank flooring, consider the thickness of the underlayment, as thicker underlayments typically offer better sound absorption and insulation properties, but may not be suitable for all vinyl flooring products, including vinyl sheet flooring.
Always consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for the recommended underlayment thickness and density before making a decision, as a thicker underlayment might be necessary depending on the specific flooring type.
Moisture and Vapor Barrier
When selecting an underlayment for vinyl flooring on concrete, ensure that it has a moisture and vapor barrier to protect against potential damage from concrete subfloors. This barrier prevents moisture from seeping into your vinyl floor, which can lead to swelling, warping, and even mold growth.
Vapor barriers can be separate layers installed beneath the underlayment or incorporated within the underlayment itself as an attached layer. Regardless of which option you choose, ensuring that your underlayment has a moisture and vapor barrier is a critical step in protecting your vinyl flooring from potential damage and ensuring a long-lasting, trouble-free installation.
Sound and Thermal Insulation
Sound and thermal insulation are important factors to consider when selecting the proper underlayment for your vinyl flooring on concrete. A good underlayment should not only provide sound absorption and insulation, but also contribute to the overall comfort and energy efficiency of your living space.
Top Underlayment Options for Vinyl Flooring on Concrete
With a clear understanding of the factors to consider when choosing underlayment for vinyl flooring on concrete, let’s explore some of the top underlayment options available in the market.
Cork underlayment is a natural and eco-friendly option that provides excellent sound reduction, insulation, and moisture protection. Cork is derived from the bark of the cork oak tree and is a renewable and sustainable material. It’s known for its cushioning properties and natural resistance to mold and mildew, making it an ideal choice for vinyl flooring installations on concrete subfloors.
Cork underlayment can be more expensive than other options like foam and may not be suitable for use in wet areas without a vapor barrier. However, cork remains a popular choice for homeowners seeking an environmentally friendly and high-performance underlayment for their vinyl flooring projects.
Foam underlayment is an affordable and versatile option that offers cushioning, insulation, and moisture protection. Foam underlayments are typically available in various thicknesses, ranging from 1 to 3 millimeters, and are generally easy to install. However, foam underlayment may not be as durable as other options like cork or rubber, and may not provide the same level of sound reduction and insulation.
One potential drawback of foam underlayment is its inability to act as a moisture barrier. If it gets wet, it can retain water, leading to mold growth, musty odors, and the need to replace the affected flooring. Therefore, ensure proper moisture protection when using foam underlayment for vinyl flooring installations on concrete.
Rubber underlayment is a durable and high-performance option that provides excellent sound reduction, insulation, and moisture protection. Rubber is a resilient material that can withstand heavy foot traffic and wear, making it an ideal choice for commercial and high-traffic residential applications.
One potential disadvantage of rubber underlayment is that it can be more challenging to install and may be more expensive than other options like foam. However, its superior performance and durability make it a popular choice for homeowners seeking a high-quality, long-lasting underlayment for their vinyl flooring projects.
Installation Tips for Underlayment on Concrete Subfloors
Now that we’ve explored the top underlayment options for vinyl flooring on concrete, let’s discuss some essential installation tips to ensure a successful project.
Preparing the Concrete Subfloor
Before installing the underlayment, ensure that the concrete subfloor is clean, dry, and level. Here are the steps to follow.
- Start by vacuuming and damp mopping the subfloor to remove dirt and debris.
- Use a level or straight edge to identify any dips or bumps in the subfloor.
- Fill in any low spots with a self-leveling compound and smooth it out with a trowel.
- Sand down any high spots to create a flat and even surface.
Additionally, assess the moisture content of the concrete subfloor using a moisture meter. Excessive moisture can cause damage to your vinyl flooring, so you’ll want to address any moisture issues before proceeding with the installation.
Installing the Underlayment
When it comes to installing the underlayment, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for laying the underlayment flat and smooth. This will ensure a successful installation and prevent any potential issues related to uneven surfaces or gaps in the underlayment.
Some underlayments may require a specific installation method, such as using a roller or trowel to evenly spread the material over the concrete subfloor. Be sure to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for the recommended installation method and follow the instructions closely to achieve a high-quality, long-lasting installation.
Seam Sealing and Taping
Sealing seams and taping edges of the underlayment prevent moisture infiltration and ensure a continuous barrier beneath the vinyl flooring. Use seaming tape to securely connect the seams of the underlayment, creating a moisture-resistant seal.
Successful Underlayment Installation
Selecting the right underlayment for your vinyl flooring on concrete is a crucial step in ensuring a comfortable, durable, and energy-efficient living space. By understanding the importance of underlayment, considering factors such as thickness and density, moisture and vapor barrier, sound and thermal insulation, and exploring top underlayment options like cork, foam, and rubber, you can make an informed decision that best suits your specific needs. Follow our installation tips for a successful vinyl flooring project, and enjoy the benefits of a high-quality, long-lasting floor in your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best underlayment for vinyl flooring on concrete?
For vinyl plank flooring on concrete, it’s best to choose a cork or felt underlayment for heat insulation, moisture regulation, and sound absorption.
Does vinyl flooring need a vapor or moisture barrier on concrete?
A vapor barrier is recommended when installing vinyl flooring on top of a concrete subfloor, as this will help prevent moisture from seeping up into the flooring material and potentially causing damage.
Is it OK to put vinyl flooring over concrete?
Yes, provided you install an underlayment between the concrete and vinyl. Choose an underlayment thick enough to provide adequate cushioning and support for the vinyl flooring.
What do you put between vinyl and concrete?
When installing vinyl flooring over concrete, you should use an underlayment in between to aid in sound absorption, insulation, act as a moisture barrier, and provide comfort when walking.