Can I use an Existing Wood Floor as a Subfloor?

Jul 28, 2017

If you’ve recently decided to lay down some beautiful hardwood floors in your home, and you already have an existing wood floor, you may be wondering if you can use the existing floor as a subfloor. Doing this will make things much easier, seeing as you won’t be required to tear up and dispose of the existing floor. So, can it be done? The answer is actually yes, it can. Using an existing hardwood floor as a subfloor is possible, but you’re going to have to make sure the old floor meets a number of requirements.

Ensure Height Consistency

The first thing you need to be sure of is that your new floor is not going to be higher than any existing floors at areas of transition. You don’t want your new floor to be half an inch higher than your kitchen tiles or the landing area of your stair case. Ensuring a nice consistency in height is going to be crucial to your success in laying a new hardwood floor over an existing one.

Make it Squeak-proof

The last thing you want is to finish installing your new hardwood floor over your existing one only to realize you forgot to make sure you wouldn’t be dealing with squeaking. The best way to ensure your new floor is going to be squeak-proof is to carefully inspect the existing floor and look for any loose or damaged flooring. Loose flooring or voids in the floor will allow for the new flooring to move around more easily, causing irritating squeaks. Make sure to replace, repair, or re-fasten damaged or loose sections.

Get the Measurements just right

An existing floor that is being used as a subfloor has the same flatness requirements as a regular subfloor. For fasteners that are 1 ½ inches long or more, the subfloor should be flat to within ¼ inch in 10 feet or 3/16 inch in a 6-foot radius. For glue-down installations and fasteners that are less than 1 ½ inches, the subfloor should be flat to within 3/16 inch in 10 feet or 1/8 inch in a 6-foot radius. If any of these measurements are off, you are going to need to sand down any spots that are too high and fill in spots that are too low.

Proper Installation

After preparing the existing floor to act as a suitable subfloor, it’s time to install the new hardwood flooring. For the best results, try and install the new floors at a 45 degree angle to the existing floor, or perpendicular to it, rather than parallel. This will give you the best stability. If you must install parallel to the existing floor, consider laying plywood overtop before installing the new floor. The plywood should be no less than 3/8 inches in thickness.

By following this advice, you’ll see that using your existing hardwood floor as a subfloor is easier than you think. Pay attention to detail, get your measurements right, and install your new floors properly, and you’ll be on your way to enjoying your new hardwood floors while having saved yourself a good deal of work.