Vinyl Plank Flooring Thickness: How to Choose?

By Fortino Rosas / May 20, 2022 / 84 Comments

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    Have you ever lain awake wondering what the best thickness for vinyl plank flooring is? If so, you might be in the middle of a renovation meltdown. Or maybe you’ve spent way too much time watching home improvement shows.

    Our vinyl plank thickness guide will give you all the key considerations to determine what thickness you need for your floors.

    Vinyl Plank Flooring Layers

    vinyl plank floor layers
    Knowing the layers of a vinyl plank is critical before buying

    1. Wear Layer

    The wear layer lies at the top between the printed design film and the coating at the very top. We consider this layer to be the most important factor of how well your floor will hold up over time. One simple piece of advice is to buy the highest wear layer you can afford. Overall, the thicker the wear layer, the more durable the vinyl plank will be.

    We will discuss how wear layer is calculated later, but below are guidelines you can follow.

    • Best: >20 mils
    • Good: 12 mils
    • Below Average: 6 mils (be wary of floors below 6 mils in wear layer)

    If the wear layer breaks down, the printed design will damage and fade. The thicker the wear layer the longer it takes for the top layer to wear off and expose your vinyl print. However, no matter how thick the wear layer, a floor will still scratch over time and if not properly maintained.

    A thicker layer is more resistant to scratching and denting. Better quality flooring tends to have the highest wear layers, but is more expensive.

    12 mil vs. 20 mil Vinyl Plank Flooring

    A good wear layer for vinyl plank flooring is at least 12 mil. If you have an active family or an assemblage of pets, consider buying 20 mil or higher. For commercial applications, 28 mil wear layer vinyl plank flooring is recommended.

    Even with a thicker wear layer, your floors may not last as long as you’d think. Other factors such as plank construction, installation and maintenance will play a critical role.

    Top Coating

    The top coating on the wear layer is also an important factor to consider. Better vinyl floors have wear layers that include a protective top coat. This coating often contains additives like ceramic or other substances to increase the hardness level of the planks. We like vinyl planks that have a wear layer with a top coating that has aluminum oxide.

    Many Shaw floors have aluminum oxide while COREtec floors have a UV cured finish. Both do a great job and give the plank a very hard top coat which increases durability. Urethane coating is also used on some vinyl planks and has tiny ceramic beads mixed in to provide extra durability and grip.

    During manufacturing, these substances need to bond to the flooring through the process of curation. If bonding isn’t performed correctly, the coating won’t be effective. Be sure to check your warranty for guidelines on manufacturer defects.

    Overall LVP Thickness vs. Wear Layer Thickness

    In short, wear layer thickness is more important than overall thickness of a luxury vinyl plank. Let’s look at one simple example.

    Plank #1

    • Overall Thickness: 8 mm
    • Wear Layer: 10 mils

    Plank #2

    • Overall Thickness: 6 mm
    • Wear Layer: 20 mils

    WINNER – We would choose this plank as the wear layer is much greater and will protect the floor much longer. The overall thickness of the plank is not as relevant.

    2. Printed Film

    The printed film covers the core with paper print film to get the desired style and color. This layer is less about thickness and durability and more about visual appeal.

    3. Core

    Most luxury vinyl planks (LVP) have either a WPC (Wood Plastic Composite) or SPC (Stone Plastic Composite) core.

    WPC is softer, warmer, and quieter, but can dent more easily. On the other hand, SPC is harder and very durable as it’s made from stone particles but it is louder and less comfortable than WPC. WPC does not contain actual wood. Instead, it’s made up of wood flour fused with thermoplastic and calcium carbonates. This type of flooring is free of phthalates and safer for your family.

    If we had to choose, we lean slightly towards SPC as you can buy something under $2 a square foot and it will last a long time.

    See our full comparison of SPC vs. WPC.

    4. Underlayment and Balancing Layer

    The underlayment and balancing layer serve several purposes such as providing a softer feel under the foot, acting as a moisture barrier, and helping dampen sound. It also provides stability.

    You won’t find a balancing layer on many lower end floors (under $2 a square foot) as manufacturers want to get the cost product down so this is one of the first areas they will cut. If you live in an area with excessive humidity or your floors are exposed to direct sunlight, not having a balancing layer can make the floor unstable and cause it to warp and separate.

    We do not recommend buying a floor without a balancing layer.

    How Is Vinyl Plank Thickness Measured and Calculated?

    The level of wear on a vinyl plank is measured in mil (one thousandth of an inch). A mil is not the same as a millimeter, as roughly 40 mil equals 1.0 mm (39.4 mil to 1 mm, to be exact).

    To find the depth of a vinyl plank you need to account for the protective wear layer, core, and the backing. To better evaluate your options you’ll need a basic understanding of how companies assemble vinyl planks.

    Total thickness of the floor is measured in mm (1 mm = 3/64 of an inch). You’ll find a wide range here, with lower quality planks falling in the 4 mm range and higher quality planks boasting 8 mm or thicker. For example, the total thickness of a 6 mm floor with a 1.5 mm pad is actually 4.5 mm.

    Will there be a transition from your vinyl planks to another type of flooring? If so, you’ll need to keep that in mind when calculating the thickness of the planks. Awkward transitions between rooms will make your floors uneven and unattractive.

    What Is The Best Thickness For Vinyl Plank Flooring?

    • As a rule of thumb, for heavy traffic areas go with a wear layer of 20 mils and for low to normal traffic areas, go with 12 mils. See our vinyl thickness chart for more detail.
    TypeWear Layer We Recommend
    Peel & Stick Flooring6 mils
    Loose Lay Vinyl Flooring12 mils to 20+ mils
    Glue Down Vinyl12 mils to 20+ mils
    Click and Lock Vinyl12 mils to 20+ mils

    Cost and Useful Life of Vinyl Plank Based On Thickness

    20 mil Vinyl Plank Flooring12 mil Vinyl Plank Flooring6 mil Vinyl Plank Flooring
    $3 to $8 per SF$2 to $5 per SF$1 to $4 per SF
    20 year useful life7-10 year useful life4-5 year useful life
    Do not solely consider cost and give equal weight to how long a higher quality floor will last.

    LVP Thickness – Our Picks for Top Brands

    Mannington AUDRA Max

    • 20 mil wear layer
    • 8.0 mm overall
    • $5 to $6 per SF

    Mohawk SolidTech Plus

    • 20 mil wear layer
    • 6.0 mm overall
    • $5 to $7 per SF

    Karndean Da Vinci

    • 30 mil wear layer
    • 3.0 mm overall
    • $6 to $8 per SF

    5 Things to Know Before Buying LVP

    1. Order full size plank samples (this may have a small cost but it worth it to see how the planks will look and for testing).
    2. Do the butter knife test: take a butter knife and try to the scratch the floor using normal force (if a bunch of scratches appear, don’t buy that floor).
    3. Ensure you have a proper subfloor and that it is even.
    4. Buy the highest wear layer you can afford.
    5. Ensure the locking areas don’t snap off by hand (take a plank and try to break off the locking areas, if they break easily, don’t buy that floor).

    Residential or Commercial Rating

    Another important consideration is the rating. Is it rated for residential or commercial traffic?

    Both have the same maintenance requirements, but planks appropriate for business settings can hold up to excessive use.

    It’s helpful to compare the commercial warranty with the residential. An extended industrial warranty usually signifies a thicker wear layer.

    Flooring manufacturers tend to err on the side of caution with commercial customers. By underrating the vinyl plank’s life expectancy, companies avoid costly warranty claims.

    In contrast, residential flooring is expected to withstand less abuse over a longer period. If the plank in your home needs to hold up to rolling loads, exposure to grease or extreme use: you should consider the commercial grade rating as a better indicator of how long your vinyl planks will last.


    How thick should vinyl flooring be?

    Overall vinyl thickness is less relevant than wear layer. A wear layer of 12 mils or greater is recommended.

    How thick is 20 mil vinyl flooring?

    20 mils is roughly 0.5 mm. Note mil is not the same as millimeter.

    Is thicker vinyl flooring better?

    In general, yes, but its the individual components of the thickness that matter the most. Wear layer is the most important consideration. Also, remember a 8mm thick vinyl floor with a 2mm of padding means that the overall thickness is 6mm.

    Can I increase wear layer of LVP?

    No, you cannot add wear layer to an existing floor. The wear layer is added during the manufacturing process.

    What is a good thickness for vinyl sheet flooring?

    Vinyl sheet is less thick than a vinyl plank so having a an overall thickness of 2mm to 5 mm is sufficient in most circumstances.

    Final Thoughts

    If durability is your primary concern, look for vinyl planks with the thickest wear layers. Your retailer should provide you with documentation detailing these features.

    When shopping for vinyl plank; look at the warranty, core construction, wear level, and attached underlayment before making a final decision. Planks with added cushioning are warmer and quieter. Some products also feature built-in vapor barriers within the underlayment.

    Don’t be fooled into thinking that more expensive flooring is always the better choice. While that is often the case, sometimes you are paying for the name, not necessarily the quality. Be sure to confirm the product is health compliant and carries safety certifications.

    Whether you’ve found vinyl planks that have exceeded your expectations or have failed to live up to the hype, help others by sharing your comments.

    About Fortino Rosas

    Chief Floor Critic, 32 years of experience in flooring installation and sales

    Fortino Rosas is an independent flooring contractor with 32 years of experience in residential and commercial flooring installation and sales. He joined the Floor Critics team to share his expertise with our readers. Fortino has acquired vast knowledge and skills in the areas of product selection, space planning, and installation. He has installed flooring in residential, government, and commercial office projects in the Midwest. Visit Website.

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    84 thoughts on “Vinyl Plank Flooring Thickness: How to Choose?”

    1. I’m looking at purchasing 1000sq foot of Nextfloor Stonecast luxury vinyl plank that is 5.7 mm (including the 1.5mm attached cushion) and 20 mil level. It has lifetime residential warranty and a 10 year commercial warranty. This will be in our home kitchen, dining, laundry, entry, and living room. Does this seem like a good buy? Also, does anyone have knowledge of this brand (pros/cons If so)?

    2. We’re considering using Current Plus Pueblo 3084CU for our basement. It’s a walkout, approximately 1400 square feet and we have a pool so we like that it’s 100% waterproof. It’s only 4mm with a 12mil wear layer. I think this flooring is fairly new. Does anyone have any experience with it or any comments/suggestions?

    3. I am looking at doing my entire house in lVP other than new carpet in the 3 bedrooms. My house is small, 1183 sq. ft. I have no pets or kids. I am working with a local flooring store and have picked out a lower priced LVP that has a 4.5 mm thickness and 12 mil wear layer. “100% waterproof” It has a 10 year residential warranty and 5 year commercial warranty. Any advice on whether I am going too cheap and should find a better quality or will this probably work in my light traffic, no children, no pets home? The price is MUCH better using this brand than with other brands with the lifetime or 30 year residential warranty…thoughts? Thanks!

      1. It sounds like you’ve done your research and you know the pros/cons of the various choices. I’ve been researching too. I’ve learned most recommend 5mm thickness (minimum) and 12mil wear layer (minimum). I’m focusing my own search on 7-8mm and 20mil wear layer and longest warranty I can find. I’m 58, so I’ll be lucky if I get another 20-25 years on this planet and in this home. I think fear and paranoia are driving my decision because I know this is going to be a huge investment for me and I only have one chance to get this right. I don’t want any regrets or any re-dos.. I do have pets and that factors in to mine, but your light traffic/wear lifestyle would probably be fine with your choice. Many of these brands advertise “soft under foot”…..but I’ve always wanted real hardwood, so I can’t see that as a plus. Who wants soft “wood” under foot? I want rigid, quiet, waterproof, insulated, durable, and “chemical-free”, That’s the list I’m taking with me when I visit local showrooms.

        1. Thanks for the input….you are right that this should be something considered a long term investment so getting it right is wise…

    4. We live in a very old home that has the old hard vinyl floor glued to floor. The vinyl has pitted and has many areas that it has peeled up. Can we glue Vinyl plank to that?

      1. You don’t glue vinyl plank. It is a floating floor. You can install it over previous flooring, but if the existing flooring is not level, the planks will not be able to lock evenly.

    5. Our home is designed for “Solar Gain,” That means that there are several months during the Winter that the sun shines onto the floor to heat the home. The sun begins to hit the floor on Sept 1st, Come the first day of winter the sun shines in at a maximum to about 13 feet into the home. After that it recedes until April 20th when it no longer is hitting the floor. A total of 134 days. We are in Northern Illinois so obviously we don’t continuous sun. God forbid…lol. As much as I want a hardwood floor, LVT is affordable as we have around 1300 sqft to cover. We really want a cream maple floor that has little variation in color!!!!! I believe there are some level issues with the subfloor that will have to be addressed. My concern is that the vinyl will fade or warp. What recommendations would you make in selecting a floor that will stand the test of time and sun?

      1. I’ve been doing some research, but I’m not an expert….yet. 🙂 I know that all of these flooring options come with spec sheets and you’ll need to seek out and focus on the specs you are most concerned about. They are rated to withstand certain temperature ranges, and you would need to know that in order to prevent damage (fading, melting, warping, etc.) and not void your warranty.

    6. We are trying to choose an LVP and see negative reviews, also positive on the different brands, Floor & Decor Duralux product, Home Depot LifeProof, Lowe’s…, Mannington, Armstong.
      We want to install it through the entire house in Florida and we definitely want a waterproof product. Who can recommend a brand.

      1. Most vinyl planks are decent if you get 12 mil or thicker withe the underlayment attached already….the luxury vinyl tends to be the cheaper or maybe just lower grade compared to regular vinyl planks…. i’d recommend looking for a quality honest affordable installer ….. the right installer will recommend quality vinyl, and will do quality work without any transitions or over lapping tile/wall edges, without any gaps where the tiles connect, and will do a measured layout of the entire house knowing where every plank edge will land on every wall before ever locking in the first plank.. however most just throw down a tile after a few measurement (not really understanding that they dont know) and will rely on pure chance and luck how the planks will land on the other side of the house…. or they will just use transition strips between rooms… a good installer recommendation (if they are legit honest and fair) beats a good vinyl recommendation cause the installer knows wat quality products are …..

        1. You got that backwards. The TVs the Luxury Vinyl Plank that is the more expensive. The best is the Rigid Core Luxury Vinyn Plank with a 20mm or more thickness. I personally prefer the commercial grade.

    7. From my reading, 20 mil is not millimetres, what does mil stand for?

      Amtico has a 1mm or 40 mil wear layer

      What is the difference between 1 mm and 40 mil?

        1. Further clarification, mils are thousandths of an inch, so 40 mils is .040″, which is a litter thicker than 1/32″.


      Looking to replace the floor in my 5th wheel toy hauler. I’m considering a vinyl plank floating floor. Does anyone have any experience in doing an RV floor?

      1. Depends on the temps your RV is exposed to. Vinyl of any description does nor hold up well to freeze thaw cycles, and the fibres that are molded to click together will take on moisture as the ice crystals within thaw out. Your floor could come undone within a few seasons.

    9. My 50 year grantees vinyl plank floor from lumber liquidators shows wear at the plank edges because rolling desk chairs put excessive pressure. This was placed over a separate underpayment that lumber liquidators recommended and also sold me to go over the cement Can new vinyl plank s be placed over this existing vinyl plank floor?

    10. Can I install/is it acceptable, to install 1/4″ luan under the 20 mil/8mm wear layer in a house on the 2nd floor near the ocean? Should I glue the LVP or use snap together?

    11. Deborah M Kuiken

      Can you put down vinyl plank over existing vinyl flooring? We built our house in 1980 and used Armstrong vinyl flooring which still looks new, but I am tired of it. Would like to update.

      1. I can see your question is from 2019, and this reply is probably no longer helpful to you, but I’ll state for anyone else who might be reading. All brands have spec sheets that will state the temperature range for their product and that is what their warranty will cover. Anything outside that and you could try it, but you’d be assuming the risk.

    12. Has anyone ordered and had their LVP flooring through an online seller? If so, were there any problems? I am hesitant to do this but ran across a better than great deal!

    13. I find all this information on vinyl flooring interesting and learning a lot. Can I put vinyl flooring on top of ceramic (I think it’s ceramic) tiles and if so, do I need to place anything on the tiles before the vinyl floors go down?

      1. We put vinyl plank flooring right over the top of ceramic flooring in a ground floor condo.That was 2 1/2 years ago.. This included KITCHEN LIVING DINING AND HALL.
        Water proof vinyl plank still looks like new.. No shifting or separation. We used a type with foam backing attached.

      2. If you are gluing your planks over ceramic tile it’s a good idea to run a sander over the ceramic first to scuff up the ceramic. If not the glue may not adhere to the smooth glazed ceramic. Also it’s a good idea to use a filler like Ardex to skim coat over the grout lines so it doesn’t show through on the new vinyl plank.

        Pegasus Flooring

    14. After spending significant time looking for a click install plank flooring that works for my entryway, I found one. However, it’s much thinner than the bamboo flooring it’s adjacent to. Can I use backerboard (or a thin piece of plywood) underneath to raise it to a similar height as the bamboo?

    15. I have installed LVP flooring in my home. The Eternity 4mm Rigid Core vinyl plank.

      Few days after installation, it has started to bulge at the centers. The heat from the slider door is making it bulge. Anything that I can do?


    16. My laminate floor is curling on the corners and the seams are puckering. I am going to purchase vinyl planking with cork backing. Do I have to take my laminate out or can I go over it?

      1. You can go over it. Cut off the peeling pieces to where it’s sticking well again, then patch the gaps with self leveling floor patch.

    17. I am looking for Luxury Vinyl Planks — I would like 8mm and 20 mil but also went a snap lock system like Shaw Floorte or Floorte Pro. The only problem is I cannot find a color I like. I have a Laminate floor in my computer/sewing room called Spalted Maple and I love it but I cannot find anything close in Vinyl planks. I have oak cabinets and Natural maple dining room set, hutch, and breakfast set. Any suggestions?

      1. Look at Provenza Maxcore Moda line. 8mm wear layer, 20mil – good for commercial use as well. To me, they are the most realistic wood vinyl floor out there.

      2. There is a spalted maple at floor and decor, but it’s only 6.5 mm and I don’t know what the wear layer is!

    18. Leaning toward choosing Rose Canyon EVP from Lumber Liquidators. It is 8mm thick and has a wear layer of 28 mil. I have tried to “damage” the sample as a test of its durability and so far it has held up well compared to other samples I have from Home Depot (which revealed “white” underneath when I scratched it with scissors. ). Has anybody used this particular EVP?

      1. We are also considering Rose Canyon EVP from Lumber Liquidators. I’m curious, did you go with it and are you pleased? If so, can you see distinction between planks (beveled edge) very well? Anything else we should think about with that specific flooring?

      2. We installed Core Luxe Ultra iwith underlayment n our daughter’s newly finished basement area throughout. She liked it so well that we did the main floor also. 4 dogs, 1 cat, 1 adult and 2 pre-teens. It’s been a year in the basement area – office, family room and laundry area. Main floor installed 4 months ago- still loving it! We are looking at same product, different colors (Rose Canyon) to install in our home 1500 sq ft. Lumber Liquidators and their chosen installer in our area did a great job! That’s why we would like to stay with them and this product again.

    19. I’m looking for LVP but am totally confused about the thickness issue.

      Contractor wants me to install 3mm glue down but it seems so thin compared to what I’ve seen at Lowe’s or Home Depot which are tongue and groove.

      Any suggestions?

      1. Glue-down conforms to surface and does not need to be thicker. Check out wear layer. A floating floor is a completely different product.

    20. Do you have any comparisons on the type of coatings, I hear that is a very important component in these comparisons

    21. Great info! I am pretty up to speed on a lot of the basics, what I can’t figure out is how important is what the wear layer is made of? I hear ceramic bead is the best but I was considering CoreTec and sounds like that is a urethane product.

      Any insight on that topic and or brands that have a stronger material on the wear layer?

    22. Two 65 year olds wanting to put waterproof vinyl strips with click construction in our basement. I would like to not spend hours running around looking for a suitable product. You wouldn’t possibly help us out by giving us a nice middle of the road flooring option, would you? Please… 30 some years of teaching 7th graders has exhausted me; driving all over hoping to find a good deal and a good product just doesn’t sound like that much fun!

      1. Donna,

        I’ve installed almost 1,400 sq. ft. of Lifeproof LVP from Home Depot in our house. It’s reasonably priced, has excellent color choices, easy to install and has held up to our 3 children and a 90 lb. dog!

        BTW, my late father was an educator. I appreciate and commend you. Enjoy relaxing and your new floor!

      1. So i found flooring i like that is 30 mil which I’m happy with, but the mm is 5.8. Does anyone know if that 5.8 is it okay number?

      1. FYI… Comparing Godfrey Hirst Orion Hybrid WPC Floor Boards (no phthalates) with Cork Backing at 7.8mm thickness, including .55mm Wear Layer and Karndean Looselay Longboards with Grip Backing (plastic type material) at 4.5mm thickness and .55mm wear layer.

        Both offer either waterproof or for wet areas; 25 year Residential Warranty for Orion Hybrid, suitable for Heavy Traffic (Residential) areas; and Lifetime Warranty for Karndean, kid friendly and pet friendly.

        Sizing is comparable in length and width. No difference.

        Hope this helps some other floor board researchers!


    23. I am considering an Empire product called Valletta, they claim an overall thickness of 4.2 mm and a wear layer thickness of 12 mil. Do you think that is an acceptable thickness for a residential kitchen application? Thanks for your response.

        1. Hi BSTEVE I am about to order Flooret Modin, trying to be sure I have done all my research and saw your post. Wondering if you still love it or have encountered any problems since your install?

        2. Hi BSTEVE,

          How have your Flooret floors held up? I am considering ordering them Thanks for your input!

      1. Chris, the moderator has given guides as to 12 Mil = .3mm wear layer. From my research, a high traffic area ie. a kitchen, should be no less than 20 mil or approx .5mm wear layer. The thicker the wear layer the more resistant it is to wear & tear, denting, scratching etc. Heavy pots & pans, if dropped from shelving etc, could damage a thin wear layer. Hope this helps!!!

    24. Dear Jeanine (and Floor
      Very good article! I’ve been researching online and asking ?s in stores for WEEKS to get contrasting answers. This new product has me stumped and sales reps are pushing it but the specs have me questioning if it will be a good fit. We do have an active family, cats, and the basement is to be a multipurpose (ping pong, dance, yoga, fitness…) space. The gym area has a rubber floor where weights will be used.
      Coretec Pro Plus is relatively new and has a 30% thinner “CORE” but overall 5mm thickness. 0.5 mm/20 mil wear surface.
      1.0 mm vinyl base layer
      1.5 mm core
      1.0 mm vinyl balance layer
      1.0 mm cork underlayment. Seeing it in person the tongue and groove is noticeably thinner and while it would fit our budget much better than the $5.99/sq ft price of the the HD series.

      Would you think “Pro Plus” provides adequate cushion? One flooring guy said you could add 1/8″ cork underlayment (3mm) and maintain warranty but also help it work better overall but then i’m looking at $490 for 7-100′ rolls to do a 610 sq ft floor… I’m torn if that would be worth it or to pay more for the thicker overall floor (“Plus has a 1.5mm cork so negligibly more underlayment cushion, the “core” is what I’m concerned with if I go Pro Plus….


      Andrew from Lexington, married 9.75 yrs, 4 cats, 2 little girls, 2 jobs, 1 basement renovation

      1. Did you go with Coretec ProPlus? We are considering for our kitchen and living room area. The commercial (Pro) line is less than their residential line and I am wondering why.

        I appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

        1. Ramesh Hathiramani

          Did u go with coretec pro ??? I am also considering the same one, whats bothering me is the thickness of the plank, ?

    25. Crystal Brown-Voeltz

      I’m a little confused, as my contractor told me to get 6-8 mm, but never mentioned the wear layer, I discovered that during some research. Everything I read says 6 mm and up but in lowes etc I am finding 0.3 layer. Is that actually 3 or is that something else. Is 0.3 bad? I am loving some of the vinyl planks that are 3.2-4.5 mm thickness but I am worried that this is going to crack? Anyone have any insight. I will continue to google information, but I’m down to some deadlines so I gotta make some decisions

    26. Lots of great information! Had no idea there would be so much to consider when buying the vinyl flooring! Your guidelines will definitely be very helpful when checking out different flooring sources for vinyl flooring.

          1. Most seem to be 100’ before transition but you should check the instructions for the product you are buying, should be ale to find instructions online.

            1. Looking at floor and decors brand duralux – it’s 4mm think with a 12mil layer. Is that ok for a basement? Wouldn’t say high traffic, but does have some uneven spots. Additionally, the planks do have some padding on the back, but store still recommended the underlayment. Thoughts?

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