how to lay underlay for vinyl flooring

How To Lay Underlay for Vinyl Flooring in 4 Easy Steps (DIY Guide)

So you have chosen the best underlay for your vinyl flooring, and now you’re ready to install. Follow our step-by-step guide below to learn how to lay underlay for vinyl flooring. 

Tools & Materials

Before installing your underlay, gather the following tools to hand. You may not end up using all of them, but it makes sense to have them ready just in case:

  • Tape Measure
  • Utility Knife
  • Scissors
  • Vacuum or Broom/Dust Pan
  • Hammer
  • Vinyl Flooring
  • Underlay

How to Lay Underlay for Vinyl Flooring – Step-by-Step Guide

Follow each of the four steps below to lay underlay like a pro:

Step 1 – Prepare the Subfloor

First, sweep or vacuum all the dust, dirt, and debris from the subfloor. This cleaning helps the underlay lay properly and lets you see the surface. 

Check the subfloor for any dents, imperfections or damaging items such as rogue nails that could snag and damage the underlay or yourself!

If you find any significant issues such as holes, unevenness, cracks or severe moisture – you must stop the installation and get these problems corrected before continuing. 

Step 2 – Unroll your Underlay

Unroll the initial underlay strip alongside the wall. If your underlay has an overlap at one end and an adhesive strip at the other, place the adhesive strip on the edge alongside the wall, so the overlap is ready to lay over the next strip. 

Step 3 – Measure and Cut Carefully

Carefully measure how much you unrolled for the first strip and then cut it. 

Unfurl the overlap piece and peel off the strip that covers the adhesive before laying it down. Use duct or utility tape to connect all the rows if your underlay doesn’t have adhesive. 

Take care not to overlap the rows. Instead, lay them down so that the seams are lying perfectly together. Using this technique will achieve the perfect foundation for your vinyl flooring. 

Cutting your underlay with scissors if the roll is thin; otherwise, it’s best to use a knife and a straight edge for a precision cut.

Step 4 – Lay Underlay

Lay your underlay on top of the vapour barrier or directly over the subfloor if there are no moisture concerns. The best way to do this depends on the manufacturer’s directions. 

Some experts recommend laying only a few underlay strips and fitting your vinyl over the top before switching back to laying underlay once the first few strips are almost covered. 

Others recommend laying all the underlay and then laying all the vinyl over it. As always, follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results. 

Final Thoughts – How To Lay Underlay for Vinyl Flooring

Underlay is vital for protecting against moisture, reducing sound transfer and improving comfort. 

Furthermore, you don’t need to hire a professional to do this relatively simple task. If you follow our step-by-step guide above, you’ll know how to lay underlay for vinyl flooring in no time.

If you’re unsure which type of underlay is best for your needs, check out our guide to the best underlay for vinyl flooring


What do I need to consider before laying underlay?

You need to ensure that your subfloor meets the following three basic requirements:

1. The subfloor is clean and free of debris. Vacuum or broom clean before starting.
2. There is no damage to the subfloor. If so, fix the damage before continuing.
3. The subfloor is smooth to the touch.

Do I need any special equipment to lay underlay?

Tape Measure – for working out how much underlay you need to cut. 
Scissors or Knife – depends on the thickness of the underlay. Scissors if thin, knife if thick.
Vacuum or Broom – for cleaning the subfloor before laying underlay.
Hammer – for securing the underlay to the subfloor.

What are the benefits of underlay for vinyl?

Underlay for vinyl is beneficial when laying vinyl over concrete or wooden subfloors. It’s also helpful when fitting vinyl over existing floors such as lino or tile.

If your subfloor is concrete, underlay offers thermal qualities and makes the floor more comfortable. Underlay reduces sound transfer and provides extra cushioning if your subfloor is wooden.

If you’re laying vinyl over an existing floor such as lino or tile, underlay will improve comfort underfoot and reduce noise.