Removing a wooden floor may be messy, dirty, expensive, and tedious, especially if you have no access to the edge of the flooring from another room. Instead of removing the old worn out floor, can you put laminate over hardwood?
Laminate can be laid directly on existing hardwood floors if it has a built-in underlayment. However, if there isn’t a built-in underlayer, you’ll need to roll an underlayment over the hardwood before you start installing the laminate.
In this article, we’ll explain what laminate flooring is composed of, what to consider before applying it over your hardwood floor, the need for an underlayer, and the step-by-step procedure for installing it. Plus, we’ll discuss 3 top laminate floorings for use over hardwood, whether it’s cheaper to refinish hardwood or cover it and look at other types of floorin that can be installed over hardwood.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- What is Laminate Flooring?
- Can You Put Laminate Over Hardwood?
- Do You Need Underlayment for Laminate Flooring Over Hardwood?
- How to Install Laminate Floor Over Hardwood
- Best Laminate Flooring to Install Over Hardwood
- Is It Cheaper to Refinish Hardwood Floors Or Replace With Laminates?
- What Other Flooring Can You Put Over Hardwood?
What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is a multilayered synthetic surface material composed of flat paper and melamine resins glued and pressed together during the lamination process.Laminate consists of at least three layers: The thickest is called the carrier board, which usually consists of pressed wood fibers. Above this is the decorative textured layer printed on a special paper with an imitation wood grain or other designs. The top layer of the laminate is a hard durable sealer that resists moisture, abrasion, and dirt.
Whether tile or imitation wood, laminate floors look quite similar to expensive floor coverings such as tiles, hardwood planks, and parquet. Thanks to digitally printed decorative layers, laminate can imitate all other types of floors.Laminate flooring with textured embossing similar to parquet and V-joints between the panels is an alternative to genuine wooden floors.Although the visible surface usually looks like wood, it is actually printed paper. This is the main difference between laminate, hardwood, and parquet.
With hardwood or parquet, the real wood is visible on the surface. However, the disadvantage with laminate is if it is stained or damaged, you cannot simply sand it down like real wood. Doing so will ruin the seal along with the decorative layer.
On the positive side, laminate is cheap and easy to lay. After a few years, you can easily replace it for a fresh new look. Depending on the size of the room and your DIY skills and experience, this work can be completed in one day.
Can You Put Laminate Over Hardwood?
Technically, laminate can be installed on hardwood floors. You will, however, need an underlayer over the hardwood before installing the laminate, unless the laminate has a built-in underlayment.
If you are planning to lay a new floor covering directly on an existing floor, you should check carefully beforehand that it also meets the following requirements:
- The existing hardwood floor must be stable and level. Joints, cracks, and dents can be filled with casting compounds, and creaking floorboards should be screwed tight before covering.
- If the old floor is uneven, the dents and bulges will sooner or later transfer into the new layer, so the new laminate floor will show the same problems.
- The old floor must be clean and dry. If the old floor is damp or full of moisture, it will soak into the laminate and damage it over time.
- The installation height must not be too high. Otherwise, the doors will have to be shortened.
Do You Need Underlayment for Laminate Flooring Over Hardwood?
Laminate flooring underlayment is necessary when installing laminate materials over hardwood unless the laminate flooring has a built-in underlayment. It is important to note that you’re installing a floating floor and the underlayer is what makes the floor float.It makes the flooring more stable and supports the installation’s locking system. In addition, the underlayment acts as an impact noise dampener.
How to Install Laminate Floor Over Hardwood
When installing laminate there are some things you should consider.Before cover existing hardwood floor, consider whether it is vital. The natural wood floor has a certain charm, so even if it is damaged, could it be repaired?
If you’ve decided you want to lay laminate, you should look at the existing floor. Check for bumps, dents and deep scratches that could transfer through.Depending on the height or depth of the damage, consider what material is best suited for leveling out. If you are unsure, consult a professional.
Occasionally, there may be residues of other materials on the old wooden floorboards, which is usually the case when carpet has been glued to the floor. Remove these residues as much as you can before laying the laminate.
Steps to install laminate over hardwood
Step 1: Clean the hardwood
The first step is to clean the old hardwood flooring. You can use a vacuum for this. If any carpeting material has been glued to it, scrape it off thoroughly.
Step 2: Check out loose boards
Check for loose or moveable floorboards and fasten them securely. When laying laminate on wood, the existing wooden floor must be as static as possible. Otherwise, the laminate will later move with the underlying wooden floor, damaging the laminate.
Step 3: Examine the floor for bumps
Identify any unevenness and level them out with thinset or an insulating material. If there is only a slight unevenness of about 1 mm, thin insulating underlaymentmaterial is sufficient. If the height differences are larger, sand or plane them down or use a self-leveling compound or an insulating board.
Step 4: Lay the impact sound insulation
Lay the sound insulation material evenly on the floor. There are different types of sound insulation materials to choose from – foam underlayment, felt underlayment, acoustic underlayment, and more. Underlayments which are adhesive on both sides are particularly practical as they don’t slip, andthey create an even surface as the base of the laminate flooring.
Note: This step can be ignored if the laminates have built-in footfall and/or impact sound insulationunderlay
Step 5: Lay the laminates
When applying the laminate, ensure it is laid transversely to the existing floorboards. In this way, the laminate lies better, and any movements in the wood underneath will not have a strong effect on the laminate floorboards above.
Step 6: Lay molding over the gaps between the laminate and the wall
Adding molding to cover the openings between walls and floor will make the work look neater and the flooring more stable.
Best Laminate Flooring to Install Over Hardwood
To help you chose the best laminate for your project, here’s a brief review of the three best laminate floorings suitable for installation on an existing hardwood floor:
1. Pergo TimberCraft +WetProtect Laminate Flooring
The Pergo TimberCraft +WetProtect is a 12mm thick wood plank imitation laminate flooring with hi-def printing and embossed surface textures. All these recreate a vintage wooden surface. The Pergo +Wetprotect technology ensures the flooring is fully waterproof, with a lifetime warranty backing the waterproof quality.
It is resistant to spills, splashes, and all elements from pets. This laminate is ideal for the kitchen and bathroom. Furthermore, the flooring is also scratch and stain-resistant, making it easy to clean. It can be installed over or below any other type of flooring. However, it doesn’t come with an underlayment.
2. TrafficMaster Lakeshore Pecan Stone
The Lakeshore Pecan Stone from TrafficMaster is thinner than the Pergo model reviewed above. It’s a 7mm thick laminate flooring with a wood look that blends with almost every interior. It has a simple click-lock installation system which means you don’t need to use glue during installation.
However, this also doesn’t come with an underlayment. We recommend getting the First Step Underlayment with the TrafficMaster Laminate for a perfect installation.
3. Mannington Restoration Collection
The Anthology, from the Mannington Restoration Collection, is a laminate flooring product that combines three of the most used wood species in flooring – hickory, white oak, and maple. The anthology is the first laminate floor pattern from Mannington that features 20 unique plank visuals. This has resulted in better realism and improved beauty of a timeless floor.
The laminate features various special qualities such as the Spillshield Waterproof Technology. Made in the USA, the laminate is environmentally friendly, and Floorscore certified. It is easy to clean and maintain, and is scratch, fade, and stain-resistant.
Is It Cheaper to Refinish Hardwood Floors Or Replace With Laminates?
It is usually cheaper to restore a hardwood floor than to replace it or cover it with laminate. However, the extent of damage the wood floor has received, and its thickness, may mean refinishing is not an option. So, covering it with an underlay and laminate is cheaper than ripping the old wood flooring out. Laminate, although cheaper than natural wood, is still expensive and it takes time and effort to achieve the beauty of wood flooring. Removing the old wood flooringis dirty, dusty, costly, and tedious, especially if you have no access to the floor edge from another room.
What Other Flooring Can You Put Over Hardwood?
Laminate may be the best covering for hardwood flooring, but there are other flooring types that can be used.
1. Ceramic Tile
Most ceramic flooring is suitable for renovating a wooden floor. One thing to consider, however, is the size of the tiles.
To limit the risks of shearing and cracking linked to the natural movements of the wooden flooring and supports, it is recommended to choose a floor tile whose unit surface does not exceed 144 in² or 1200 cm², i.e., 12”x12” or 30×40 cm.
- Fill in the holes and cracks, and drive in any nails. Then dust and clean the surface. In case of excessive bumps or irregularity of the floor, leveling may be necessary.
- Create the bonding surface with a suitable primer. It is strongly recommended to apply a coupling undercoat.
- For gluing the tiles, choose a tile glue use on wood. Then, apply the tile glue using a glue comb.
- Lay a row of tiles, reserving a space for the joints between the tiles and on the periphery with spacers of suitable width.
- Tap each tile with a rubber tile mallet without excessive pressure.
- Correct the positioning of your tiles as long as the glue is fresh.
- Add tile grout between the tiles at least 24 hours after laying the tiles. Start with a trowel, applying a generous amount between the tiles.
- Remove excess grout and clean the tiles with a damp sponge.
2. Sheet Vinyl or Linoleum
Laying linoleum or sheet vinyl over hardwood floor is quite doable, provided that the floor is solid. Leveling is mandatory; otherwise, the design of the wood will appear through the linoleum. The process of laying sheet vinyl or linoleum over hardwood is simple.
- Prepare the floor by scraping off any roughness with a brush and scraper. Then clean the floor by vacuuming.
- Examine each slat of the hardwood flooring to check the strength of the fastening nails.
- Remove loose nails using a pair of pliers and replace. If your hardwood floor is disjointed, fill the gaps with wood putty.
- Choose an adhesive primer specific for wood. Read the instructions for use; in particular, the temperatures must be between +5 and +30°C. Apply a coat of adhesive primer using a large brush. Let it dry for at least 3 hours, but not more than 24 hours, after which the primer will lose its effectiveness.
- Level the floor with a fiber mortar and a trowel.
- Lay the lino on the hardwood.
3. Vinyl Tile
Highly durable, stain and scratch-resistant, vinyl tile is quite popular for flooring. And it can also be used over an existing floor, such as hardwood.
Vinyl with the click system requires an even and clean surface with footfall sound insulation as an intermediate layer. If self-adhesive vinyl tiles are to be used, they also need an even and, above all, joint-free surface.Otherwise, due to its flexibility, the material will reveal all the surface’s unevenness beneath, which won’t look good.
Hardwood flooring can be covered with other floorings, such as laminate. However, the existing hardwood and the new flooring must be decoupled or separated at least with an approved underlay, or better still, with impact sound insulation.
Hopefully, you found this article helpful and are better prepared for your flooring project. If you enjoyed reading the article, kindly share it. Also, tell us what you think about the article in the comment section.