The Importance of Choosing the Right Plywood Underlayment for Your Flooring Project

December 4th, 2013

If you want your floor to perform at its best, the key is to install the right combination of underlayment and finished flooring. A premium quality plywood underlayment is required to complete most finished floors. How do you know if you are choosing the right plywood underlayment for your flooring project? Here are some steps that you can take to ensure that you are properly selecting and installing the right plywood underlayment.

  1. Selecting Plywood Underlayment. A high quality plywood underlayment has a finely sanded face that provides a smooth working surface for installing your finished floor. When installing resilient flooring such as vinyl, VCT, luxury vinyl tile or ceramic tile, carpet, engineered flooring and wood floors, you must use a plywood underlayment that is manufactured with an exterior glue bond. This is a requirement of the major vinyl manufacturers’ warranties.
  2. Preparing Plywood Underlayment. Prior to installation, allow your plywood underlayment to acclimate by standing the panels on the 8’ edge for 24 to 48 hours in the heated home environment. Be sure to avoid getting the plywood underlayment wet and protect the panels from possible damage during the acclimation period.
  3. Installing Plywood Underlayment. Install the plywood underlayment over a clean, dry, level, sound structural sub-floor, or existing floor. If you are installing over an existing floor, thoroughly scrape, sweep and vacuum the entire surface and strip any wax from the existing vinyl. Do not glue plywood underlayment panels to the subfloor. Gluing plywood underlayment panels to the subfloor can cause problems such as a tack and release floor that crackles when you walk across it. We recommend that you install your finished floor immediately following the installation of the plywood underlayment to avoid damage to the surface of the plywood underlayment. Stagger the end joints of the plywood underlayment panels. The joints of your plywood underlayment panels should be offset from the joints of the subfloor by a minimum of two inches.
  4. Fastening Plywood Underlayment. First, fasten the 8′ edge of the plywood underlayment every 2”, ½” from the panel edge. Stand on the plywood underlayment panel to insure flush contact with the sub-floor. Next, return to the starting corner and fasten the 4′ edge every 2″, ½” from the panel edge. Return to the starting corner and fasten the diagonal at 4″ on center to the opposing corner of the plywood underlayment. Fasten the rest of the “field” every 4″ on center in a diagonal direction across the plywood underlayment. Fasten the remaining 4′ edge and finish the sheet with the remaining 8′ edge every 2”, ½” from the panel edge. Make sure that your fastener heads are flush with or slightly counter-sunk beneath the panel surface.
  5. Installing Finished Flooring. Be sure to follow the flooring manufacturer’s installation instructions when installing your finished floor.

For more information on choosing the right plywood underlayment for your next flooring project, contact Patriot Timber today at (336) 299-7755 or


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