Subfloor Guide

Your subfloor is the floor beneath your floor. It is the structure upon which your new flooring will be installed. Subfloor can be the concrete foundation of your home, or the boards or plywood laid over the floor joists. The decision on which type of floor you can install and the method of installation to use depends on the subfloor you have. For example, if you have a concrete subfloor, like in your basements, you can install laminates or cork using glue-down or floating methods. A nail/staple method is impossible for the obvious reason that they will not penetrate concrete.

Some common subfloor types are:

  1. Concrete or cement.
  2. Plywood a panel made of thin layers of wood bonded together using glue. The layers have alternating grain directions, usually oriented at right angles, to add strength.
  3. Particleboard - made from wood particles (wood chips, sawmill shavings, saw dust) bonded together under pressure. Particleboard has a higher density than chipboard and is a cheaper but less durable alternative to solid wood or plywood subfloors.
  4. Tongue & Groove Floorboards traditional softwood floorboards.

Vinyl floors, glued-down carpets, and other existing flooring types are not suitable as subfloor (especially for wood floors) and must be removed. Before installing any type of flooring it is important that you get down to the solid, flat and dry subfloor.

Here's a quick reference on subfloors and the flooring types and installation methods you can use:

Subfloor Flooring Type Installation Method
Concrete Solid Nailed onto Battens,Glue-Down
Engineered Floating, Glue-Down
Laminate Floating
Bamboo Floating, Glue-Down
Plywood, T&G Solid Nail-down, Glue-Down
Engineered Floating, Glue-Down
Laminate Floating
Bamboo Floating, Glue-Down
Particle Board Solid Glue-Down
Engineered Floating. Glue-Down
Laminate Floating
Bamboo Floating, Glue-Down

 

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Submitted by Jason Ashby, UKFD