Should you use dedicated underlays for vinyl floors?

Laid as floating floors, vinyl floors must be set on underlays. The floor manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations should always be followed. The validity of the guarantee, which may extend over 25 years for vinyl floors, depends on compliance with such instructions.

FOR LVT. Which underlay is best?

As more vinyl flooring appears on the market, so does the number of dedicated accessories for such floors. Hence, what criteria should be followed when selecting an underlay?

Parameters of luxury vinyl floor underlays partly overlap with parameters of underlays dedicated for wood & laminate underlays, but there are also additional features to look out for.
MMFA – Multilayer Modular Flooring Association – highlights several parameters for products dedicated to LVT and recommends that their values should not fall below specified levels. As a member of MMFA, Arbiton takes care to comply with, or even exceed the parameters recommended by the Association.

If you follow the floor manufacturer’s recommendations, taking into account needs such as underfloor heating, you will have no problems with the selection of suitable underlay. And if you have any doubts, do not hesitate to contact us: we are here to help, to advise, and to point you in the right direction. We are Arbiton. We are Floor Experts!

STABILITY – comes first: although vinyl floors are very durable and resistant, they need a durable and resistant underlay to maintain their features. An underlay resistant to loads will guarantee the protection of the vulnerable locks of vinyl floor panels. This parameter is marked with the relevant icon and the CS identification on the packaging. The higher the CS, the higher the underlay’s load resistance, which means that the underlay can be used even in the case of heavy use.
PC is another parameter of the underlay, which determines floor durability. The PC value must be given attention as a floor is never perfectly levelled and even small punctual unevennesses may irreversibly damage floor panel locks. The parameter is given in [mm], and in some cases may even reach 5 mm. It will appear on the packaging as the relevant icon.

Secondly, WHAT ABOUT FLOOR HEATING? Heat transfer resistance is often mistakenly associated with underlay thickness: it is not true that the thinner the underlay, the better its thermal conductivity – this depends also on underlay composition and density. Everything depends on parameter R – thermal resistance, which also has its own icon on the packaging. The lower the R, the better heat transmission and lower energy bills. MMFA recommendations will be useful here: select your underlay so as to produce the best floor-underlay combination.

FLAMMABILITY CLASS is the third important parameter: the floor must comply with fire-fighting regulations in commercial and other applications; hence, it should feature the applicable flammability class. Vinyl floor panels are classified in the Bfl-S1 fire grading product group. This means that fire does not spread over materials of this kind and that they also generate practically no lethal smoke. The underlay should meet the same criteria, specifically in commercial buildings which are governed by more rigorous fire-fighting regulations. That is why you must look for the symbols which indicate product flammability class on the packing.

Fourthly: WITH OR WITHOUT ANTI-SLIP? The anti-slip coating is a layer which prevents a floor panel from moving on the underlay surface. It eliminates slipping and therefore helps installation of the floor, makes it more stable, and prevents movement in use – particularly when the floor is loaded with e.g. furniture. In assembly manuals, floor manufacturers recommend (or not) using underlays with an anti-slip coating. The best thing to do is to follow the floor manufacturer’s guidance. Anti-slip coating theories and recommendations vary among leading floor manufacturers. Underlays with an anti-slip coating are also marked with relevant icons.

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