Tips for Installing Plywood Underlayment for Your Next Flooring Project

February 4th, 2014

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Planning a new flooring project but not sure what steps to take to make certain your plywood underlayment is installed properly? Patriot Timber Products, Inc. is here to help. Whether you are looking to install plywood underlayment under vinyl, vinyl composite tile, luxury vinyl tile, ceramic tile, carpet, engineered floors or wood floors, here are some tips you can follow to ensure your flooring project is successful.

Preparing for Plywood Underlayment Installation

First, acclimate your plywood underlayment panels for 24 to 48 hours in the room(s) in which they will be installed. This is typically 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Once your plywood underlayment has acclimated for the appropriate amount of time, perform the Flex and Look Test. Stand the panel on its four foot edge with the face of the panel towards you. Grip the top of the panel edge with your right hand and firmly place your left palm against the face of the panel. Pull down with your right hand approximately 3” while simultaneously pressing forward with your left palm approximately 3”. Hold this position while you inspect the panel for any creases or bubbles. In the rare instance that you find such inconsistencies, set the panel aside and contact Patriot Timber for immediate resolution. You can visit for a video presentation of this test.

Second, thoroughly clean the flooring field getting rid of any dirt, dust or debris. Sweep and vacuum the entire flooring area to ensure that it is clean. Make sure your existing subfloor is dry and level. You are now ready to install your plywood underlayment.

The Plywood Underlayment Installation Process

Make sure the nailing pattern on the plywood underlayment panels is face up. Place your panels 1/8’’ – 1/4’’ away from the walls to allow for expansion.

There are two methods you can use to install plywood underlayment:

  • Install your plywood underlayment panels without an expansion joint and without seam filler. This method is recommended if you are installing plywood underlayment under vinyl, vinyl composite tile, luxury vinyl tile, ceramic tile, carpet, engineered flooring or wood floors.
  • Install your plywood underlayment panels with an expansion joint and seam filler. If you are following this method, leave approximately the thickness of a nickel between each panel for subsequent seam filling. Allow the seam filler to completely dry and then sand all joints with a floor sander making sure not to over-sand or “cup” the joints.

Never use adhesives to attach the plywood underlayment to the subfloor. Instead, fasten the plywood underlayment panels with staples, ring-shank nails or screws. Remember to adjust the drive depth of your staple or nail gun to prevent overdriving. Choose fasteners that won’t penetrate through the bottom of the subfloor. Stand on each panel during the installation process. See our complete installation video at

Following Your Plywood Underlayment Installation

After installing the plywood underlayment, thoroughly sweep and vacuum all of the plywood underlayment panels before installing the floor covering.

Have questions about the plywood underlayment installation process? Don’t hesitate to contact Patriot Timber Products, Inc. today at (336) 299-7755 or check out a more in-depth video of the plywood underlayment installation process at

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