Laying carpet can be a difficult process to begin with, but making sure you have the right subfloor makes the process even more complicated. Particleboard is used in many homes as a subfloor, but it may not be the best candidate for laying carpet. This article discusses whether you can lay carpet over particle board.
You can lay carpet over particle board, using adhesive and tack strips, but the quality will not be as good because of the cheap and brittle nature of the particle board. Preferably, an underlayment should be installed between the carpet and the particle board to hold the carpet better.
I will explain in more detail why it is better to use an underlayment for carpet and particle board in the article below. I will also outline how to install the carpet and underlayment over the particle board.
Can you Lay Carpet over Particle Board?
Carpet can technically be laid over particle board. However, there will be many issues when fixing the carpet in place and it will not last long before needing replacement. This can also cause damage to the particle board.
Particle board is a material made from wood dust or shavings, often cast off from other projects. The wood fibres are bound together with a resinous material and pressed into the flat boards you may have seen. It is also known as chip board.
Particle board has been known to be installed as a subfloor in many homes, but this is starting to become a hassle when homeowners want to replace their floor coverings. Although it is cheap and flat, it is not easy to work with.
Issues with Particle Board
One of the major issues with particle board is its brittle nature. People have experienced splitting of the board when driving nails into it, especially if the nails are situated to close to the edge of the board.
Screws have been known to come out easily, taking chunks of particle board material with them. Staples also come out easily, making it very difficult to secure floor covering. The exception is floating floors, which are not fixed to the subfloor.
Another issue is the absorption of water. If there are any spills that seep through to the particle board, it will absorb the water, which could attract mould. It will also cause the board to become distorted and degrade the quality.
With carpet in particular, all it takes is someone to spill their drink and the particle board underneath could be affected.
Particle board will also absorb the moisture from any glue that is used, such as with adhesive vinyl floor coverings. If the glue loses its moisture to the particle board, it will not set as strong and can lead to problems with your floor covering.
Key Considerations When Working with Particle Board
With the issues above in mind, there are some things you can do to help lay a floor covering directly over the particle board.
Firstly, screws are preferable over nails to avoid splitting the board. On top of this, the screws should be placed in line with the underlying joists of the home, which should line up with the existing screws or nails in the particle board subfloor.
Any screws that are driven into the particle board should be driven all the way through it into the joists beneath. This will help hold the screws in place so they don’t dislodge and damage the board.
If using staples, it is best to use many so that loose staples do not greatly affect the integrity of the floor covering. The staples should be used in conjunction with a layer of glue between the particle board and floor covering. This combination should provide enough strength to hold the floor down.
Finally you should use a waterproof sealant on the particle board to help protect it against moisture.
Laying Carpet Directly on Particle Board
I will explain how to lay your carpet in more detail further down. However, because carpet is primarily held in place by the tack strips, this can still be installed over particle board.
The padding beneath the carpet can be secured with staples around the perimeter of the room, and, in a similar way, the tack strips are nailed around the perimeter of the room. As long as there are more staples and nails, these components have a higher chance of staying fastened to the particleboard.
As I mentioned earlier, nails can easily become dislodged from the particle board, meaning the tack strips may lift with time. You will also find any adhesives used for the padding will not be as strong because it will be partly absorbed by the particle board.
Should You Put Carpet Over Particle Board?
Although you could lay carpet poorly over particle board, it is recommended that you install an underlayment in between, such as plywood. This will be much stronger than particle board.
Although particleboard has a smoother surface, is cheaper and more environmentally friendly, plywood has many advantages that make it a suitable candidate for laying carpet.
Plywood is made of thin sheets of veneer that have been glued together and treated with heat and pressure. This makes plywood more durable, lighter to carry and more moisture-resistant.
Plywood is also much easier to handle than particle board. The cross-grain pattern of the plywood means that nails or screws stay in place, instead of breaking the board apart.
How to Install Carpet over Particle Board
Here you can find how to install carpet with a plywood underlayment, as well as the tools required.
Installing the Plywood Underlayment
· Plywood – at least ¾ inch thick
· Vacuum cleaner
· Wood screws/screwdriver (electric)
· Flooring adhesive
· Paint roller
· Saw to cut plywood
First you will need to vacuum the particleboard in preparation for the adhesive covering. Then you will need to roll adhesive over the particleboard where you will be laying the first sheet of plywood. Make sure you are laying the plywood staggered from the particle board so that the seams don’t line up.
To further secure the plywood, drive the wood screws into the plywood and particle board. The screws should be long enough so they drive into the joists beneath as well.
You can establish where the joists are by looking at the pre-existing nails/screws in the particle board. Keep the screws more than one inch from the edge of the particleboard to prevent damage.
Continue laying the plywood sheets until the floor is covered. You may need to cut the last few pieces to fit the room.
Installing the Carpet
· Carpet pad
· Utility knife
· Carpet pad adhesive
· Duct tape
· Tack strips
· Shears (to cut tack strips)
· Measuring tape
· Seam sealer
· Seaming tape and iron
· Carpet kicker
· Wall trimmer
· Stair chisel
· Power stretcher
· Transition moulding
Once the plywood has been installed over the particle board, you will have a solid base for your carpet. Start by attaching the tack strips with nails to the perimeter of the room, leaving a small gap between the strip and the wall. There should be at least two nails per strip and the tacks should be up and facing the wall.
Measure out and cut the carpet pad to fit the room, making sure it reaches the tack strips, but does not lay over them. Tape the seams of each piece of carpet pad with duct tape. Use the carpet pad adhesive to secure to the plywood.
Measure the room and cut the carpet so that it is slightly bigger than the room. If using multiple sheets of carpet, joint them together at the seam using the seam sealer. Once the sealer is dry, use the seaming tape along the seam and heat it to the back of the carpet with the sealing iron.
Lay the carpet on the floor and use the carpet kicker to push it into the tacks along the perimeter of the room. Remember, there should be excess carpet around the edges to trim with the wall trimmer. You can use the knife to trim the corners.
Once the carpet has been trimmed, use the stair chisel to push the edge into the gap between the wall.
Once you have done this for the first wall, do the same for the opposite wall, then the third wall. You will need to use a power stretcher on the final wall to avoid any laxity in the carpet.
Use the transition moulding over any doorways and attach these with nails. Reattach the baseboard to the walls.