Gone Outdoors

How to Install Luan Plywood

by Azrael Morherudaen

Luan plywood is popular underlayment typically used when vinyl flooring is going to be installed as the finished resilient flooring. Subflooring is generally too rough to attach vinyl flooring directly. It takes the abuse of the construction necessary to erect a building before the finishing touches can be started. The dips and crevices in it will show through vinyl flooring if there isn't an underlayment installed. Luan plywood provides a smooth surface for maintaining a professional looking finished floor. However, luan plywood installed incorrectly can leave blemishes the vinyl flooring will not cover up.

Measure the width and length of the area with a tape measure to get the square footage needed to cover the subflooring. Divide the square footage by 32 to calculate the number of sheets of luan plywood needed. Allow the luan plywood to acclimatize to the area it is going to be installed in for several days.

Clean the subfloor clear of any debris, dirt or dust. Remove any nails or screws protruding from the subflooring. Fill any gaps with floor patching compound according to the specific manufacturer's instructions. Allow the floor patching compound to dry and sand any humps for a level surface.

Measure and cut the luan plywood with a circular saw so that all cut edges are against the walls. Dry fit the laun plywood to ensure accurate measurements. Lay the luan underlayment perpendicular to the subflooring. Leave a 1/4-inch gap between the cut edges and the walls. Leave 1/8-inch gaps between the sheets of luan underlayments. Remove the luan plywood.

Spread enough floor adhesive with a 1/8-inch notched trowel to cover the area for the first piece of luan underlayment. Install the plywood with a staple gun and staples slightly shorter than the total depth of the subfloor and underlayment. Hammer any staples flush with the surface of the underlayment. Remove any pieces of wood that may have splintered around the staples. Install the remaining pieces of luan underlayment until all the plywood has been installed.

Fill the gaps against the walls, any holes left by splintered wood and in between the seams of the plywood with flooring patching compound and allow the compound to dry. Sand the seams smooth with an orbital sander until there is a smooth level surface.

Items you will need
  • Tape measure
  • Luan plywood
  • Floor patching compound
  • Circular saw
  • Floor adhesive
  • 1/8-inch notched trowel
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Orbital sander


  • The top layer of finished flooring is referred to as resilient flooring.
  • The subfloor is only the layer of wood that sits directly on the floor joists.


  • Staples that stick through the subfloor may rust from moisture and can eventually show through the resilient flooring.
  • Only the highest grade of luan plywood is recommended for a proper underlayment.

About the Author

Azrael Morherudaen has written for the Upper Peninsula's Second Wave website and CloudCrowd. He attended the University of Michigan before serving in the U.S. Marine Corps as a certified intelligence specialist.

Photo Credits

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