Choices of Flooring

What Are The Main Types Of Sub-Floor Wood Flooring?

by Roy Akirov
September, 2015

A sub-floor, as the name suggests is nothing else but a floor situated under the floor which you walk on. When you remove the carpet or a different type of flooring material, you can get to the sub-floor. Sub-floors are a crucial factor that needs to be taken into account when installing a new floor. You should consider what material the sub-floor is constructed from and then think about the types of flooring that can installed on such a sub-floor type. When it comes to finished flooring material, people usually choose solid wood flooring, or engineered or laminate flooring. Now, let’s discuss different types of sub-floors – it can help you to understand what finished flooring types are best. 

Tongue & Groove and Plywood

Plywood is a composite material manufactured from thin layers (‘plies’) of wood veneer that are put together with adjacent layers with the use of an adhesive. You can often encounter such sub-floors in houses. Solid wood floors can be installed through either nailing or gluing to the plywood. As was the case with concrete sub-floors, engineered wood flooring of different types can be glued or floated to the sub-floor. In the case of laminate floors, gluing is not a suitable installation method; instead, such floors have to be floated.

Tongue & groove sub-floors are composed of boards made of a softwood type. They look a lot like regular hardwood floors. Flooring installation methods used for a tongue & groove sub-floor are the same as those used for plywood sub-floors.

Concrete Sub-Floors

Concrete sub-floor is a flooring solution which is most frequently used in basements and at commercial buildings. Undoubtedly, no finished flooring can be nailed down to a sub-floor made of concrete. In such a case, a strong adhesive may be used to glue down battens (long flat strip of squared timber or metal used to hold something in place or as a fastening against a wall) to the concrete. That is a number one method, recommended when installing solid floors over concrete sub-floors. Then, you can fasten or glue the floor directly onto the batten. If you’ve decided to go for engineered wood floor, you can use a suitable method consisting of floating or gluing it directly over the concrete. The proponents of laminate floors can only resort to floating, as it is the only floor installation method advisable in this case.

Particle Board

Other known as chipboard, this an engineered wood product made from wood particles and a synthetic resin, which is pressed and extruded. It is a relatively cheap alternative to tongue-and-groove or plywood sub-floors. Particleboards have become increasingly popular in new houses because it’s durable, easy when it comes to installation and somewhat firm. The one thing that you should take into account in the case of particle board is the fact that when installing solid wood flooring, you can’t nail it onto the particle board. The recommended fitting method is gluing it down. For laminate flooring, you should use floating (alike with all the above sub-floor types). An engineered wood floor can be installed by floating or gluing it directly onto the chipboard sub-floor.

What type of Sub-floors is not a Good Option?

You should avoid specific types of materials as sub-floors; for instance, vinyl floors or carpets which could have been glued down in the past. At first, you can remove them before you install the floor. Moreover, here is one crucial thing that applies to the fitting of all flooring types – before installation, remember to clean the sub-floor carefully, make it flat and ensure that it’s dry. If you overlook it, you may get a floor which is uneven or doesn’t stick. Moreover, the flooring can also warp and get damaged in the future.

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