The more popular vinyl becomes, the more frustrated homeowners become with the installation of it. The biggest reason for this frustration: The unknown complications with underpad or underlayment.
Just because vinyl (Luxury Vinyl Tiles or Luxury Vinyl Planks) may look like laminate, homeowners assume it acts like laminate. Sadly this could not be further from the truth. Vinyl planks (especially the thin products 3mm – 6mm thick) are not as rigid as laminate. For that reason the systems required to hold them in place are much thinner and are therefore much easier to damage should the underpad compress underneath.
Many homeowners hope to use cork or other under pads that offer some form of warmth or acoustic insulation. Sadly most vinyl on the market will not allow this. This restriction leaves many homeowners holding thousands of square feet of flooring with very little choice but to install it in a way that makes them unhappy. All they can achieve is a cold, hard, loud floor.
In condos, these under pad restrictions are deal killers. Acoustic requirements in multifamily units can be quite strict – requiring thousands of dollars in upgrades just to meet the HOA standards. Unhappily, many condo owners find they have purchased the wrong product with the wrong specifications for their apartment. This leaves the owner feeling angry and vulnerable – as if someone should have known better than to sell them a product that won’t work in their home!
As cork specialists, well trained in acoustics and installation techniques, we run into this on a daily basis. Time and time again we have had to correct a flooring sales person (and several installers) as to how to go about installing their vinyl products. Dozens of times per week we turn away clients because their vinyl floor (already purchased and waiting for them back home) will not allow cork as an underpad.
The good news is there are a few good brands out there that have given us the green-light to have our cork underlay (3mm) glued down underneath their vinyl planks. Drop N Done and Flexiplank vinyl floors have stepped up and agreed to allow our 3mm cork underneath their flooring. The reason: These LVT/LVP products are THICKER and DENSER than regular vinyl. Their RIGIDITY is what allows them to be used with cork.
The only drawback that our clients have found has to do with Condo Boards, Strata Councils or HOA Boards acoustic requirements. Unfortunately the vast majority of multifamily buildings do NOT recognise 3mm cork as being “good enough” for their buildings. And in many situations, they are 100% correct. For regular homeowners who simply want a little bit more cushion and a little bit more warmth, the 3mm cork underlay is well worth the extra effort.