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Homeowner Trade Pro

Do you Need Underlayment for Vinyl Plank Flooring?

Tricks of the Trade is an article series dedicated to providing answers to commonly asked questions. The interviews are conducted with ProSource Wholesale® trade professional members, looking to offer their insights and experience to these thoughts that arise during the building or remodeling process.

 


Anthony DeLeon is the owner of Boardwalk Flooring and an installer member at ProSource of Port Richey (FL).

 

Homeowners selecting luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring in their home remodel should be aware of what underlayment can accomplish when installed in tandem with specific vinyl flooring products.

 

Depending on the client’s needs and flooring choices, as well as the supplier’s recommendations, they can decide on if underlayment is right for them.

 

 
Examining Underlayment Density

 

For some background, most underlayment is made of foam or rubber, but older forms are made of hair. The ones I often use are 3/16 to 1/4 inch thick and made from rubber. They’re incredibly dense and provide the desired padding underneath vinyl floors.

 

Some clients feel that the underlayment helps with acoustics and sound proofing. If that is a priority to them, it’s a plus, but preserving the product is really the priority.

 

The density of the underlayment helps provide the protection the product needs. Many of the houses I work on were built in the 70s, which means they don’t have footers. That means there’s about four inches or so of a concrete slab separating the soil or sand underneath the foundation from the flooring that I’m installing.

 

In addition to the four inches, quite a bit of plastic padding is required by state law during the construction process. In the state of Florida, the requirement is six millimeters, which creates even further protection under the concrete.

 

These types of regulations help protect against legal action and ensure the foundation of these homes aren’t damaged by rain, flooding, or temperature changes, which would otherwise damage the foundation.

Navigating Slab Wear and Moisture

 

Working in Florida, we have to deal with heavy thunderstorms, hurricanes, and everything in between. Even if you buy them brand new, most of these houses don’t come with gutters, and that means water eight inches away from your flooring during a thunderstorm.

 

In some of these cases, the slabs poured are what are called “rain slabs.” The tops of these slabs are literally just flaking off.

 

Many of these slabs are older or have signs of wear, which is why the padding of underlayment helps. It takes up the surface area of those little minor consistencies and basically smooths out the floor itself after product installation.

 

Whether the product is installed in a kitchen, a bathroom, or anywhere else, protecting against the moisture from below is just as important as protecting from the moisture in the room. It all depends on the product and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Trusting ProSource

 

Much of the process involved in installing luxury vinyl flooring is trusting the manufacturer recommendations. When it comes to what it and what the underlayment underneath it can handle, the manufacturer knows best. If the vinyl brand claims that it is waterproof and stain resistant, I have to trust that they are telling the truth.

 

It also means trusting where I got the vinyl and underlayment in the first place, and that means trusting ProSource. I’m able to discuss each client’s specific situation with my account manager, Travis, regarding every order I send to the showroom. My clients are able to walk through the showroom and select the product that they want alongside Travis, who has my insights to help inform his recommendations.

 

Travis lets me know what the order was and when the order was placed. I’ll get a call from the warehouse, letting me know when it’s in, and it makes the scheduling of the job so much easier.

 

This also allows me to get better acquainted with the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the ordered products in question, which will help inform any decisions regarding installation materials needed.

Making the Right Flooring Choice

 

While they’re making these flooring decisions at ProSource, their families are at the tops of their minds. This significantly affects the product development of these options.

 

For example, we’re seeing manufacturers in LVP adapt their products for those in wheelchairs.

 

When someone is sitting in a wheelchair, the weight being pivoted on one wheel can cause floor damage. These floors can just break apart, because they’re being twisted by that wheel.

 

This makes thinner flooring choices not suited to their needs or to the client’s expectations for a new floor.

 

The same can be said for floors in homes with kids and pets. I once had a client, who wanted dark cherry floors in his young daughter’s bedroom. Within 24 hours of the floor being finished, the daughter moved her furniture back into her room and scratched the red hardwood cherry.

 

There’s no way to fix that, but that’s what they wanted. That’s why I often recommend to someone with kids a flooring option with thicker wear layer.

 

As an installer, I can make recommendations based on my experience and what I see in my client’s home, but they need to make the right flooring choices for their family, just as I need to make the right choice in following the manufacturer’s recommendations during the installation process.

 

Tagged: Vinyl