Sub-Floor Preparation

When preparing for the installation of new flooring it is imperative to prepare the sub-floor properly based on the type of flooring you are going to install. Different types of flooring require different levels of preparation and many flooring renovations go awry because this crucial step is overlooked or the importance of this first step of the renovation is minimalized. A common mistake is to assume that the sub-floor requirement is the same for all types of flooring. Professional installers always check the sub-floor to ensure that it meets the requirement of the type of flooring being installed.

The most forgiving type of flooring to install is carpet and this is due largely to the fact that it is normally installed with some type of foam underlay which may range from 8mm – 12mm. This type of cushion underlay may hide minor sub-floor imperfections however the sub-floor should still be checked for high or low spots and to ensure that it is reasonably level.

For laminate and engineered hardwood that is ‘floated’ overtop of the sub-floor but not attached to it, the sub-floor requirement would be solid, clean, dry and level within an 1/8” over an 8’ span. Laminate and engineered planks are rigid and can therefore be installed using underlays that may help hide minor imperfections. The quality of the underlay you select will determine how precise your sub-floor preparation should be. When installing laminate or engineered flooring that is floated, Laminate Warehouse recommends using a 3mm felt underlay. Not only will the felt underlay help hide minor imperfections but it will also provide superior underfoot comfort as well as better noise reduction and increased insulation value.

When nailing down solid hardwood or engineered hardwood, many manufacturers recommend a wood subfloor that is at least ¾” thick. With the current trend of wider planks, it is also recommended to glue and nail the planks to the wood sub-floor. Although some manufacturer’s may allow for the wood flooring to be glued down on concrete it can prove to be problematic and usually this type of installation is best left for the flooring professionals.

When installing ceramic or stone tile over wood sub-floors, the industry standard calls for an additional layer of sub-floor to be installed to provide more stability and less flex in order to help prevent the product from cracking. When installing tiles on concrete it is recommended to use some type of an anti-fracture membrane.

When installing glue down vinyl, the sub-floor should not only be level but should also be perfectly smooth. This type of installation requires the highest level of sub-floor preparation to prevent any imperfections from transferring through to the new product being installed.

When installing click together vinyl (usually SPC not actually vinyl) the subfloor should be perfectly level or the end result will not feel very comfortable underfoot and may create installation issues over time. Click together waterproof flooring (Vinyl, SPC, WPC) can range in thickness from 3mm – 8 mm and will often come with an attached pad. The attached pad will usually be 1mm – 1.5 mm. It is important to note that this type of attached pad will not provide the same level of comfort as the type of pad used for carpet or laminate. Click together waterproof products may require substantial sub-floor preparation and the thinner products require even more precise sub-floor preparation, so often the savings achieved in purchasing the less expensive (thinner product) is lost when dealing with potential sub-floor issues.

A quality installation starts with proper sub-floor preparation. Should you require further information please contact a Laminate Warehouse dealer through our contact us page.

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FREE Flooring Cutter

*When you purchase 1000 sq ft of Sherlock Water Resistant Laminate and Ultra Felt Underlay or 1000 sq ft of Sherlock SPC Luxury Vinyl Plank.

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