When you are planning to invest in a new wood floor, one essential item on your checklist should be your subfloor. Sadly, something that’s often ignored, your subfloor plays a much more important part in the look and the longevity of your wood floor than you might give it credit for. So, before you go ahead and lay a newly purchased wood floor, take the time to check out what lies below. Here are some things you need to think about…
Find out what your subfloor is made of
The first thing you you need to establish is the material of your subfloor. The most common subfloors are wooden planks and concrete. If you have already ordered your floor but haven’t braved the task of ripping up your existing floor covering to see what lies below it, it’s time to get your skates on. When you lift an old carpet or an old wood floor you’ll get a clear impression of the state of your subfloor and one of the main things to identify is what it’s made of.
If your subfloor is made of planks, you’ll be faced with the dilemma of whether you should put a layer of ply over the boards or if the boards are sufficiently stable to stand up to the direct installation of your new floor. In order to make any sort of assessment of the floor, you need to look at the planks closely to see if they are stable, well fixed and in reasonable condition. If they look in any way damaged or unstable, it’s probably worth introducing a layer of ply before fitting your new floor. However, if you decide that the planks are in sufficiently good order to take your new floor, then you just need to make sure they’re well fixed and free of protruding nails and sharp objects.
If you are in any doubt, it’s well worth considering laying a layer of ply over your existing planks. Ply is a great surface for your new floor and shouldn’t break your budget.
By carefully checking and preparing your plank subfloor correctly, you will significantly improve the overall look and lifespan of your new floor. NOTE: One thing to remember if you are laying a new plank floor directly over an old one is that you must lay the new boards perpendicular (at a 90 degree angle) to the old ones.
Concrete is one of the most common subfloors today and the most important thing to check with a concrete subfloor is the moisture level. Concrete subfloors need to be in good condition and relatively dry to support a new wood floor successfully.
When it comes to measuring the moisture content, you can either get the pros in or hire or buy a moisture measuring machine. If you get the professionals in, you won’t need to worry about taking measurements yourself. However, if you decide to go it alone, you should take around 30 moisture readings and aim for a consistent average across your readings of no more than 2-3%. Laying your new wood floor over a damp subfloor will just stock up problems for the future.
Once you are satisfied that the moisture levels are within acceptable limits, you need to make sure that the subfloor is free of old glue, lumps and bumps and is generally in good condition before proceeding to lay your new floor.
Might you need an underlay?
It’s a strange thing, but almost everyone accepts that an underlay enhances a carpeted floor significantly, but many people don’t even think about underlay when fitting a new wood floor. That’s a shame, because no matter what material your sub floor is made of, a quality underlay will give you:
- A great laying surface.
- Increased energy efficiency.
- Reduced risk of moisture.
- Lessened noise pollution.
If you’re planning a wood floor project and you’re worried about the condition of your subfloor, why not get in touch for some advice? At Wood and Beyond we’re always here to help you make the most of your wood flooring project.
What is the importance of checking the subfloor before installing a new wood floor?
The subfloor plays a crucial role in the look and longevity of your wood floor. A subfloor that’s in poor condition could compromise the appearance and durability of the wood floor installed over it.
What are the most common subfloor materials?
The most common subfloor materials are wooden planks and concrete. The condition and type of subfloor could determine the preparation required before installing a new wood floor.
How do I prepare a plank subfloor for wood floor installation?
If your subfloor is made of planks, you need to ensure that they are stable, well-fixed, and in reasonable condition. If they appear damaged or unstable, it might be worth introducing a layer of ply before fitting your new floor. If you decide to lay a new plank floor directly over an old one, you must lay the new boards perpendicular (at a 90 degree angle) to the old ones.
What should I check for when my subfloor is made of concrete?
When your subfloor is concrete, it’s crucial to check its moisture level. The concrete subfloor needs to be in good condition and relatively dry to successfully support a new wood floor. If the moisture levels are above 2-3%, it could cause problems in the future.
Why might I need an underlay for my new wood floor?
An underlay can enhance the installation of a new wood floor, providing a better laying surface, increased energy efficiency, reduced risk of moisture, and lessened noise pollution. This can be beneficial no matter the material of your subfloor.