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Can You Put Hardwood Over Particle Board

Many people will decide to resurface their floor with a nice hardwood, only to discover that there is particle board underneath the old flooring. It can be difficult and time consuming to replace particle board, and this will add to the cost of your project. If you are considering leaving the particle board in place and install your hardwood over the top, this article will help to guide you in your project.

Hardwood can be installed over particle particle board by using both flooring adhesive and screws to secure it in place. However, this is not recommended because particle board can swell with moisture or flake around screws, reducing the quality and lifespan of your finished hardwood floor.

Hardwood installation over particle board

You can find more information about installing hardwood over particle board below. If you choose to keep the particle board underlay, you can follow the method found in this article to reduce the change of damaging the particle board and floor covering.

Can you Lay Hardwood over Particle Board?

Female with hammer and power drill in each hand

Particle board is not a suitable subfloor for hardwood. However, you may not have a choice if you are on a tight budget or your particle board is glued down to the subfloor beneath. Particle board is often used more as a filler or underlayment between the subfloor and floor covering to add height to the floor.

Although it is not recommended, you can still install hardwood over particle board. In order to improve the strength of the instalment, you should use both flooring adhesive and screws. Screws are a better choice for particle board, but I will explain this further down.

As both particle board and hardwood can be susceptible to moisture, you will need a moisture barrier between these two layers. This will protect the particle board from moisture or spills in the room, and it will protect the hardwood floor from moisture below the subfloor.

Moisture barriers are usually an addition layer of waterproof sheeting beneath the floor covering. However, if you are using a floor adhesive to secure the hardwood flooring to the particle board, this will act as a moisture barrier instead. Check with the manufacturer whether the adhesive is waterproof.

You can find a step-by-step guide to installing hardwood over particle board below.

Should you put Hardwood Over Particle Board?

Particle board background

Although it is possible to install your hardwood flooring over particle board, you should try to avoid it. Particle board is incredibly unreliable as a subfloor or underlay due to its brittle nature and tendency to swell, which I will explain below.

When weighing up the price of your new hardwood flooring and the likelihood of the particleboard to warp or flake, it is not worth it. It is likely to reduce the lifespan of your hardwood floor.

There are a number of reasons why particle board is not suitable as a subfloor or underlayment for hardwood. The biggest issue is that particle board is very brittle. It is made up of wood fibres or sawdust that has been mixed with glue and pressed into flat sheets.

Particle board is a good flat surface and is inexpensive, but its lack of strength and brittle nature make it a poor candidate for nails and screws, which are commonly used to secure wood flooring. Nails can easily come loose from the particle board and screws can rip chunks of board out with movement or if placed too close to the edge.

In addition to this, particle board is very sensitive to moisture. If there is moisture wicked from the cavity below or a humid room above, the particle board will absorb the moisture and swell. Even small spills can seep into the wood fibres.

Swollen particle board can then buckle the overlying flooring and will be even weaker than when it was dry. Damp conditions will also make the board susceptible to mold.

If you are able to remove the particle board, plywood is a much better subfloor when installing a hardwood floor.

Copyright protected content owner: and was initially posted on May 23, 2021.

How to Install Hardwood Over Particle Board

Hardwood floor installation

Tools Required

Below is a list of tools that you will need to install your hardwood flooring over particle board. You may not use all of these tools or you may have alternatives that you prefer. This simply serves as a guide to start with.

Vacuum cleaner 

Crow bar

Expansion spacers

Floor adhesive

Flooring trowel

Electric drill

Trim-head screws

Circular saw

Plastic wood filler

Installing Hardwood over Particle Board

If you do choose to install hardwood over particle board, it is best to use both adhesive and screws to fix your hard wood flooring to the particle board.

However, this is very difficult to replace in the future, so if you prefer a semi-permanent solution, you can just use adhesive. Keep in mind that this will not be as secure as using screws as well.

First you will need to prepare the particle board by vacuuming any dust or dirt, even if it looks clean. Having a dust-free surface will make the adhesive more effective between the particle board and the wood. You will also need to remove the skirting boards using a crowbar.

Wood is known to expand in the warmer months, so you will need to put expansion spacers evenly around the edge of the room. They should be between ¼ inch and ¾ inch so that the wooden flooring does not touch the walls. If there is not enough room for the wood to expand, it may buckle with time.

Usually wooden flooring is manufactured with a tongue-and-groove design. This means that the boards will interlock to give a smooth finish. When you are ready to install the first board, spread the flooring adhesive in one long strip for your first row of wood. You can use something like a flooring trowel to do this.

If you are using screws, you will need to drill holes into the boards and secure the screws as you go. You can hide these in the tongue of the wood by drilling them on an angle into the ‘L’ of the wooden tongue.

You should ensure the screws are driven in so they are recessed as this will make sure it isn’t in the way when the adjacent wood interlocks. You will also need to make sure you are screwing into both the particle board and the joist beneath for extra hold. The joists will be located along where the particle board screws or nails are.

Once you reach the end of the row, you will need to cut the final piece to size. Do this by laying the piece against the wall spacer, turning it upside down and marking where you need to cut for it to fit. Make sure you are cutting the correct end so that the wood interlocks with the adjacent planks.

When you are ready to lay your second row, you will need to stagger the pieces by using a shorter piece as your first piece. The edge should be at least six inches from the edge of the adjacent plank to make the final floor covering stronger. Spread the flooring adhesive ready for the next row and repeat the process from above.

You will need to cut pieces in your final row to reach the spacers on the wall. When you are installing the final row, you will not be able to drill the screws into the tongue, so you should drill from the top. These holes can be filled with a plastic wood that is similar in colour to your wooden floor.

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on May 23, 2021.

Once your floor is installed, you can remove the spacers from around the room and re-attach the skirting board.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on May 23, 2021.

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