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Is it okay to install my new floor over an existing floor?

Choosing a Floor
BY SCOTT LAUBE

In most cases, probably not…

You certainly do not want to attach or glue your new floor right to the existing one, as your new installation will only be as sound as the one before it, and most manufacturers will void their warranty if you do so.

In short, layers can cause problems. The most common one is squeaks. Any movement in any layer can cause this issue, and the more layers, the more potential for this to happen. Another common issue is floor height. Most homes, especially older ones, are not built with a really thick floor covering in mind.  When additional layers are added, this can cause doors not to close and trim to look short. You may also have a fridge that will no longer slide under that cabinet, a stove that you can no longer make flush with the countertop, or a dishwasher that is trapped in place (if you needed to replace it in the future, you’d have to tear up your new floor to do so).

And, once again, nailing or gluing your new floor to the existing one makes your new floor only as strong as the old one. If the old one fails, your new one will go with it. The demolition process for removing old flooring can be expensive, but not nearly as costly as replacing that new floor that you just shelled out a bunch of money for!

Situations where you may be able to install over the old floor

  • You have plenty of height (see potential issues above)
  • The old floor is rock solid and level, with no structural deficiencies.
  • If the above are true, and asbestos is present in one of the lower layers and you don’t want to disturb it.
  • With the correct selection of a new floor covering


Products that can be installed over existing flooring

  • Laminate flooring
  • Interlocking LVT (luxury vinyl tile)
  • LVT over a paper underlayment (not our preferred method, but may be a good option in certain settings)
  • Interlocking wood floors
Installing laminate flooring
Note that all of these flooring types will not be attached directly to the old flooring below. These products are great options when the old flooring beneath is sound and level, and you have the required height to allow for them. A key consideration in installing one of these “floating floors” is that all stopping points must be covered by trim of some kind, or end moldings/caps which are made by the manufacturers, as these floors are attached to themselves, but held down only by gravity.

Another advantage of floating floors is that they can be installed over an existing floor that you may want to save and uncover later (like an old wood floor that you don’t want to refinish just yet, but don’t want to put a bunch of holes in either).
Every home presents a different scenario, so it is important to have one of our flooring professionals stop out to assess your situation and help point you in the right direction for a long lasting, worry-free floor. As always, estimates are free throughout Central Iowa.

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