Does SPC Flooring Need Underlayment?

SPC flooring is a very durable substitute to solid-core hardwood floors, not to mention SPC floors are much more affordable. The quality of the finished product of any type of flooring is going to depend on the condition of the subfloor underneath. 

This is a big reason that manufacturers recommend using an underlayment to ensure a flawless finish. SPC floors are undeniably easy to install, but does SPC flooring need underlayment before installing? Let’s take a closer look into the what, why, and how of this surprising topic.

What Is SPC Flooring?

SPC stands for a number of different things, but they all represent the same product. Stone polymer composite, stone plastic composite, and solid polymer core are among the translations for SPC flooring. They all mean the same thing and will vary depending on what region you live in and what manufacturer you purchase your flooring from. 

Like LVP flooring, it consists of various different components that are layered and pressed together to create a product that is as strong and good-looking as a traditional hardwood floor. Every manufacturer will have a different formula for their product’s composition, but for the most part, SPC flooring consists of a combination of powderized limestone, PVC, and a mix of stabilizing agents.

SPC flooring differs from other engineered/synthetic floors in composition, but they are made to look identical to the real thing. They also have the added benefit of being stronger than some other popular flooring options. The powdered limestone and stabilizers create a very sturdy backbone that hardwood and vinyl flooring can’t match. This makes SPC flooring a prime candidate for high-traffic areas like hallways and kitchens. Should you manage to damage an SPC floor, you need not worry because they are significantly cheaper than traditional floors and easy to replace.

Modern advancements in technology have made it possible for SPC floors to look almost indistinguishable from hardwood, stone, or ceramic floors. Since they are made in a factory, they can be created with beautiful custom patterns and colors that you wouldn’t find in nature. This is another big reason that new homeowners continue to go with a synthetic floor over a natural one.

Does SPC Flooring Need Underlayment?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to getting a straight answer to this question. That is because everyone has a different standard for how perfect they need/want their project to look. Some builders value speed and ease of installation above overall quality, which is fine under some circumstances, but here at Pro Flooring Zone we strive for quality over everything else. If you have read any of our other articles, then you know that we always stress the importance of taking the extra time to prep a project because it always pays to be safe instead of sorry.

Most other flooring professionals will agree that it is always a good idea to use an underlayment when installing a new SPC floor.

What Is An Underlayment?

Underlayment is a protective layer that will sit underneath your flooring and on top of your subfloor. It is a necessity for most types of flooring, including vinyl, laminate, tile, carpet, and hardwood. Different types of underlayment can be hard or soft depending on your needs, but they all make your flooring more stable, durable, comfortable to walk on, and they add a layer of soundproofing if you are working on the upper floors of your home or business. Basically, it compensates for any imperfections in the subfloor so that the flooring comes out flat and even. Most underlayments will consist of some combination of cork, foam, rubber, or another combination of materials. In other words, the subfloor acts as the structural foundation, and the underlayment is a stabilizer.

What Should You Do?

So now that know the importance of installing an underlayment when laying an SPC floor, what should you do next? Before running your flooring you need to choose the best type of underlayment for the job as well as thoroughly clean the subfloor.

As we mentioned earlier, there are many different types of underlayment out on the market, each with their own pros and cons. Some are specifically designed to work underneath SPC flooring,  but you will still need to decide whether comfort or strength is more important.

Generally, softer underlayments are preferred because SPC floors are already hard and durable due to the limestone core. This means cork, foam, and felt are going to be the best making the floor more comfortable to walk on. Foam and felt are cheaper than cork, but they aren’t as resilient or durable. Using this same logic, you would want to use a more rigid underlayment for LVP because it doesn’t have as much backbone as SPC flooring.

Make sure your subfloor is free from any old nailheads, fasteners, or dried adhesive. You are trying to eliminate anything that could cause a lump or dip in your flooring. If you need to get rid of pesky adhesives, check our article for some handy tips.

Laying the underlayment can be a bit tedious, but it is a simple process overall. In a nutshell, you will need to measure your room, roll out the underlayment, cut it to size, overlap any edges, and tape these edges before you can run your first course of flooring.

Final Thoughts

Do you absolutely need to use an underlayment 100% of the time when installing an SPC floor? No, but your subfloor better be the most pristine and maintained surface that you’ve ever seen. Perfect is hard to come by, no matter how good of a carpenter you may be. This is yet another example when it pays to go with the safe route versus the quick one (the story of the tortoise and the hare should ring a bell here). Taking the time to roll out a new underlayment will save you money and a headache in the long run, ensuring that you get the job done right the first time.

Meet your Flooring Expert

Travis McCullough

Travis McCullough

Travis is a lifelong jack-of-all-trades in the construction industry with 20 years of experience in a variety of fields. He’s tackled flooring, carpentry, and everything in between on residential and commercial projects of all shapes and sizes.
Working independently and as part of a crew has equipped him with the know-how to not only complete a project but also teach others the finer points within most building professions. When he isn’t out hanging off of a ladder or crawling around on a roof, Travis spends his time educating people about the construction industry.

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