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Can You Put Hardwood Over Particle Board?

Particle board has been used throughout the years for a variety of different furniture designs, as ceiling tiles, and even as the material used for kitchen cabinets. Though, when it comes to subfloor material, is participle board a good option for going beneath hardwood floors?

Installing hardwood flooring over particle board requires careful consideration due to particle board’s susceptibility to moisture damage and lack of structural strength. For a successful installation, replace the particle board with plywood subflooring to provide a stable, durable base for the hardwood.

Hardwood floor installation

One major concern with particle board is its lack of rigidity. Like a sponge in water, particle board absorbs moisture, leading to swelling and weakening over time. This can make it an unreliable foundation for hardwood floors, which need a stable base to avoid warping and buckling. The solution is straightforward: remove the particle board and install a plywood subfloor. Plywood offers the necessary stability and resistance to moisture, ensuring a long-lasting hardwood floor installation.

Furthermore, particle board’s smooth surface can be deceptive, making it seem like an ideal base for hardwood. However, this smoothness does not provide the grip needed for nail or glue adhesion, critical for securing hardwood planks. To combat this, laying a layer of moisture-resistant plywood over the particle board creates a textured surface that nails can grip effectively, similar to using anchors in drywall for heavy pictures. This step is essential for preventing the hardwood floors from shifting or creaking underfoot, resulting in a solid and squeak-free finish.

Whether you are taking up old flooring in your home and discover particle board beneath old flooring, or you are laying down a brand new subfloor in an area, you are left to decide if particle board is really the best option to go beneath hardwood floors. Although particle board may save expenses short term, using this material could cost you in the long run. Continue reading to find what you need to know about putting hardwood floors over particle board.

Can You Lay Hardwood Over Particle Board?

There is such an advantage to living in a time period where engineered materials are regularly produced, used, and are able to withstand the test of time. Among these engineered materials stands particle board, which when invented in the mid 1800s, was considered to be a cheaper alternative to that of its natural wood counterparts, while working as a competent substitute. Knowing this, can particle board be used as an underlayment for hardwood floors?

If there is no other alternative, yes, you can lay hardwood over particle board. It is much more time-consuming, tedious, and risky to lay hardwood over particle board, but if you find yourself in a position where you have no other option, it can be done. However, always keep in mind that particle board is very weak and it is also very absorptive when it comes to liquid exposure.

For the majority of hardwood floors laid, they are laid over a subfloor that is strong enough to hold the nails that are used to keep it down. For classic hardwood floors, nails are the best option to keep them secured to avoid any type of moving or uplifting of the floor overtime. If you are using particle board as your subfloor, nails cannot be used, as the particle board is not strong enough to keep them from pulling up.

Therefore, if you find that you have to use particle board beneath your hardwood floors, the best way to install them without nails is by using glue to lay them down. By using glue, there is no risk of nails pulling from the particle board, which gives the hardwood floors a much better attachment to the subfloor, allowing for better wear over time.

Should You Put Hardwood Over Particle Board?

Particle boards

You now know that, although it should be one of your very last choices, you can put hardwood over particle board. This may feel like good news to those of you that have particle board as the existing subfloor in your home, but beyond asking if you can put hardwood over particle board, there is a completely different matter of if you should. Although you can put hardwood flooring over particle board, should you?

Although particle board can be laid beneath hardwood floors, it is not a material that should be used if you can avoid it. Particle board, essentially, is made of wood dust which is held together by a resin and pressed together into sheets. Due to its composition, it makes this material a poor choice for going beneath hardwood floors due to its lack of overall strength.

One of the biggest reasons that particle board should not be laid over particle board is that it is simply too weak to hold the nails that are used to hold down hardwood. When installing classic wood floors, small nails are used to attach the floor to the subfloor so that the hardwood becomes a more stable surface. If you were to place particle board beneath hardwood floors, you run the risk of those nails pulling out and your floor coming up.

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on May 10, 2021.

Another reason why you cannot install wood floors over particle board is that it is incredibly absorptive. Due to the nature of this material, when it is exposed to any type of moisture, it very easily swells and warps. When it comes to flooring, there is always the potential for spills and leaks in high traffic areas like kitchens and bathrooms, therefore, this makes using particle board very risky as it can cause your hardwood floors to warp over time.

How to Install Hardwood Over Particle Board

Particle board floor installation

If you find that you have no other option than to install hardwood over particle board, you will then need the proper instructions to ensure that the installment process is as properly done as possible. Taking your time, paying attention to detail, and being incredibly thorough will lead to a better installation process, but will also allow your hardwood floors a better chance to wear well over time. Therefore, how exactly do you install hardwood over particle board?

To install hardwood over particle board, you will first need to clean the particle board thoroughly of any debris or dust with a vacuum. Lay down a moisture barrier, then set ¾ inch spacers every few feet around the walls which will keep the hardwood from making contact with the walls and allows room for expansion. Once this is done, you will then spread the flooring adhesive on the particle board with a flooring trowel.

When you are applying the adhesive (or glue), be sure that you only spread the substance in a small area to avoid it drying before you are able to lay any hardwood overtop of it. You will then lay the first hardwood plank on the glue with the grove facing the wall as you press it against the expansion block. Once you have this down, lay another board at its end and continue the row until you are met with another wall.

Once you reach the end of the first row, you will then apply more glue to the area and begin the second row. Be sure that you lay them in a way that the lines are random rather than matching. Once you have the floor completely laid, give it 24 hours to dry and you will then be able to remove the expansion spacers and put up any baseboards that were taken off before the start of the project.


When laying hardwood floors over particle boards, you may not need a nail gun and a copious amount of nails, but there will be a few other tools that will be incredibly handy. Before you start the massive feat of laying hardwood floors, be sure that you have every tool you anticipate needing so that installment can be rather fluid without any unnecessary stops to grab tools that are not present. Knowing this, what tools do you need for installation?

The tools you will need to install a hardwood floor over particle board include a mallet, crowbar, measuring tape, utility knife, a trowel, a carpenter’s square, and either a circular saw or jigsaw depending on the thickness of your hardwood floors. Along with these tools, you will also need your safety tools like glasses or goggles, knee pads, and gloves that will protect your hands from the adhesive.

When you are laying down adhesive and sawing any wood pieces to fit odd angles or complete the end of a row, always be sure to wear a mask to keep any fumes or wood particles from entering your system. Tools for actual installation are essential, but even more important than that, comes the protection of your health. Work hard, but always work smart.


With any home project comes the understanding that there is going to be some level of preparation, no matter how extensive or simplistic it may be. Prepping any project is a way of not only minimizing compilation throughout the actual project, but also a way of ensuring that you have everything you need to begin and proceed without interruption. Take a look below to find out what preparation is needed before installing hardwood over particle board.

The most crucial aspect when it comes to preparing before installing hardwood over particle board is ensuring that the surface area of the particle board is completely clean. This means that there should be no debris on the surface and no dust present, all of which can cause the adhesive to bond incorrectly which can lead to a poor bond between the hardwood and the particle board.

To clean the particle board, vacuum the surface very thoroughly and make sure that there are no areas in which the particle board has started to rise. If you find there are unlevel spots, either sand down that particular area and thoroughly clean it afterward, or use a self-leveling compound to fill in any spots that are too low. Once your particle board is clean and level, you can begin the installation process.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on May 10, 2021.

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