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Installation: Over Existing Floors

Wondering how to cover up an old floor with hardwood flooring? Here's some installation guidelines for covering existing floors.


Part I

Existing Floor Requirements

A. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for installation over existing flooring.

B. Glue-down parquet applications that require the use of PVA adhesives are not recommended over existing sheet vinyl or vinyl and cork tile flooring unless an underlayment is put down first. Underlayment should be in accordance with adhesive and/or flooring manufacturer's recommendations.

C. Particleboard is not generally an acceptable underlayment, because it lacks stability. Some manufacturers approve particleboard as an acceptable underlayment, as they do not warrant against subfloor movement. In such cases, follow manufacturer's recommendation.

D. Other types of adhesives may require the use of a primer or vinyl blocker when installing over sheet vinyl or vinyl and cork tile flooring. Follow adhesive manufacturer's recommendations.

E. Nail-down applications may be successful over existing sheet vinyl or vinyl tile if fastener penetration is not significantly diminished and the subfloor meets minimum requirements. Fasteners must penetrate a proper subfloor by at least 5/8".

F. Wood flooring can be installed over existing ceramic tile, terrazzo, or marble with proper underlayment or adhesives only on manufacturer's recommendation.

G. Installing wood flooring over an existing wood floor. Caution: Do not sand any surfaces containing lead based finishes/paints or asbestos. Check applicable local and federal EPA and OSHA regulations. For buildings built in 1978 and earlier, contact the EPA for lead based testing prior to any sanding (www.epa.gov).

  1. If safe to do so (see caution above), sand off old finish and or high spots and prep to clean, dry, sound and flat. Repair, renail or replace loose flooring products as needed.
  2. Over an existing glue-down floor, glue direct to the existing floor. Or, if the thickness of the floor will allow it, staple to the existing floor. Check with the flooring manufacturer for recommendations.
  3. When installing new wood flooring parallel to an existing solid nail-down floor, add a minimum of 3/8" plywood underlayment over the existing floor to increase stability. Check with the flooring manufacturer for recommendations.
  4. When installing new wood flooring at a 45-degree to 90-degree angle to an existing solid nail-down floor, additional underlayment may not be required.