What is Plywood Underlayment?
SurePly® Premium Underlayment Installation Guide
A typical flooring system in both residential and commercial construction consists of floor joists, a sub-floor, underlayment and the finished floor.

Plywood underlayment is a layer of plywood installed underneath a finished floor. Plywood underlayment is not the sub-floor. The sub-floor is the structural foundation that is the base for the finished floor. The sub-floor is usually a plywood or composite panel such as OSB that is manufactured for its strength and structural qualities. Plywood underlayment is the layer of plywood that is fastened over the structural sub-floor creating a uniform, smooth surface for the finished flooring.

Plywood underlayment is most commonly used under vinyl flooring and is suitable for use under carpet, engineered wood floors, vinyl composite tile, luxury vinyl tile and hardwood floors.

The Development of Plywood Underlyament:

The original plywood underlayment was ¼” AC Fir/Pine plywood manufactured in North America.

In the 1960’s commodity plywood underlayment transitioned to an imported product which was commercially referred to as Lauan plywood and originated from Taiwan, Korea and the Philippines. As worldwide demand for lauan plywood increased, production of lauan plywood underlayment panels moved to Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil. Today, the majority of commodity plywood underlayments come from China.

The development of premium plywood underlayment panels began in the 1990’s to meet thestricter quality requirements of higher end vinyl floor coverings. Premium plywood underlayments are produced from northern hardwoods such as birch and poplar.

What are the important features of a Plywood Underlayment?

A plywood underlayment must provide a sound, stable and smooth surface as the foundation of the finished floor.

What distinguishes a premium plywood underlayment from a commodity plywood underlayment?
  • A premium plywood underlayment should be manufactured entirely from sustainable wood sources.
  • A premium plywood underlayment is warranted to cover the replacement of the finished floor.
  • A premium plywood underlayment is approved by the major vinyl flooring manufacturers.
  • A premium plywood underlayment includes detailed, easy to follow installation instructions.
  • The manufacturer/distributor of a premium plywood underlayment should provide easily accessible online and phone customer support.
  • A premium plywood underlayment is made with exterior grade glue.
  • A premium plywood underlayment has a fastening pattern for ease of installation.
  • A premium plywood underlayment should be readily available and provide value to the consumer.
Where can you buy Plywood Underlayment?

Plywood underlayment is available at big box home improvement stores, retail and wholesale flooring product distributors, retail and wholesale building supply distributors and retail lumber yards. For information on Patriot Underlayment click here.


Events and Trade Shows | Environmental Organizations involved with Plywood Underlayment
SurePly® Premium Underlayment Installation Video