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Can You Put Plywood Over Old Hardwood? (How To)

There may be times when you want to cover up an old hardwood floor but you don’t necessarily want to go through the trouble of tearing it out first. Is it possible to put plywood over old hardwood?

It is not generally recommended to put plywood over an old hardwood floor but it can be done. If you install the plywood properly and attach it solidly, it can provide a suitable subfloor for almost any other type of floor, with the exception of tile.

Old hardwood flooring

We recognize that most contractors and homeowners are not going to want to use plywood over old hardwood floors. As we will discuss in this article, there are a number of different problems that can occur when you do so.

That being said, it is a lot of work to tear out an old hardwood floor and you never quite know what you are going to find when you get underneath it. Sometimes, it is just a judgment call on if plywood can be used in this case or not.

Can You Put Plywood Over Old Hardwood? (How To)

I would have to say that with all the floors I put down, I have never experienced a problem with plywood. It is one of the best choices for a subfloor and it really doesn’t matter what is underneath it, it can add another layer and make a new subfloor for whatever is going down.

That being said, however, there are some things to watch out for and this includes some shifting that may take place with the floor underneath the plywood. Although it may not be a lot, it can be enough to make a difference when it comes to the floor above.

It is also a good idea to consider how thick the plywood is going to be. Since you are already putting it over a hardwood floor, it doesn’t necessarily need to be the thickest available. Actually, that would be quite expensive!

For the most part, you can put down plywood as a secondary subfloor over hardwood and you only need to go with 1/2 inch. That will be sufficient so that it will stay in place and won’t tend to move and shift as you are walking on the new floor.

In this article, we are going to discuss a number of different points that can make a difference in whether you install the plywood or whether the installation is going to be successful. It’s important to understand these things because the last thing you want is to damage the new floor before you ever even put it down.

What are the problems associated with putting plywood over hardwood and what tools do you need if you decide to go through with the project? We will discuss those points, along with how to prepare for and install the plywood so that you can be as successful as possible with this DIY project.

Should You Put Plywood Over Old Hardwood?

Installing plywood floor

Although it certainly is possible to put plywood over old hardwood, there are some problems you need to be considering. Knowing about these problems and events can sometimes help you to head them off so that they don’t ruin everything when it comes to the new floor.

Expansion – One of the biggest problems of putting plywood over old hardwood floors is the fact that the hardwood tends to expand. This is not generally a problem when you’re just dealing with hardwood because it all expands and contracts together.

When you put plywood over the old hardwood, however, the plywood is not going to expand to the same extent as the hardwood. This means that things are going to be shifting under the plywood and the plywood can shift along with it. If you are installing any type of tile over the plywood, it can end up with cracks.

Damage – As we will discuss in the preparation portion of the article, it is important to consider any damage to the hardwood before you install plywood. If there is damage, it needs to be fixed so that it doesn’t end up showing through the plywood or you don’t end up with creaks and groans as you are walking on the new floor.

Finish Floor – If you are installing half-inch plywood over old hardwood and then you are installing another floor on top of it, you can be extending the finished floor another inch or more. This can be a problem.

Although you wouldn’t notice a difference when it comes to the ceiling height, you may notice the difference when it comes to the door clearance and you will certainly have to remove the baseboard and reinstall it. Keep these things in mind, because it can add a lot of work to the project.

Weight – It is really important to consider the weight that you are putting on the floor joists. In some cases, you may be taking things too far and you could actually end up with damage or perhaps even a collapsed structure.

The weight of the hardwood and whatever subfloor is underneath it is likely enough for the joists. When you add new plywood and then an additional floor, especially if it is tile, you are adding a lot of weight to the home. Consider this because it can make a difference in your safety.

Glue vs Nail – Some contractors may recommend that you glue down the new plywood but that can be a problem. It is much better to nail or even better, to screw down the new plywood so it stays in place but still has a little give.

What Tools Do You Need To Put Plywood Over Old Hardwood

tools used for plywood

Before you start putting the plywood over the old hardwood floor is a good idea to gather your tools together. Here are some of the tools you will need.


4 Foot Level

2 Foot Level

Broom and Dust Pan

Shop Vac

Tape Measure




Utility Knife with Sharp Blades

Chalk Line

Drill with Screw Bits

Safety Glasses


Dust Masks

Knee Pads

What Preparations Do You Need To Put Plywood Over Old Hardwood

Installing plywood floor

As is the case with any project you do around the home, it’s important to prepare things in advance. The more you prepare, the better the end result. How do you prepare old hardwood for a new plywood subfloor?

Copyright protected content owner: and was initially posted on December 9, 2022.

Repair – Although small gaps between the hardwood planks or slight damage are not going to make a difference when you put down the plywood, you should repair any large damaged areas that exist. This can really make a difference because any damage below the new subfloor can end up damaging the new floor.

Noise – In many homes, the old hardwood floor may have some character in the form of squeaks and creaks. You may not notice these when you are walking on the hardwood but you don’t want them to transfer to the new floor. Fix those problems first and then put down the plywood.

Raised Areas – Inspect the hardwood for any nails or screws that may have popped. If there is anything that has been raised, it should be fixed right away. If there is a raised nail or screw under the plywood, is going to eventually show in some way or another.

Clean – Although most people would say that it goes without saying, is very important to clean the hardwood floor before you put down any new plywood. Anything that is on the subfloor is going to keep the plywood from laying properly. In addition, any dirt that is left behind is going to be there forever.

How To Put Plywood Over Old Hardwood

confused man standing

Now that we have prepared the hardwood floor, it’s time to put some plywood over it. There are certain steps that need to be taken in order for this job to go successfully, including the following:

Step 1: Measure – The first piece of plywood should be measured and laid in place dry. You want to look at the edges of the plywood and make sure that it is falling in the right area. Try not to get an edge of the plywood in a location where it is in the gap between hardwood planks.

Step 2: Place – Next, place two pieces of plywood in position on the hardwood floor. Continue to inspect the edges. Do not glue the floor in place because it will be held down with fasteners and that will allow it to shift a little if necessary. Otherwise, it could bind.

Step 3: Tap – As you may have noticed, the plywood subfloor has a tongue and groove along the edges. You may need to use a rubber hammer to tap the plywood subfloor into position so that it properly locks in place with the piece next to it. Be careful that you don’t damage the tongue and groove in the process.

Step 4: Screw – Use screws to attach the new plywood subfloor to the hardwood floor underneath. Nails are acceptable if that is all that you have available, but you may find that screws make a better connection. If at all possible, attach the plywood to an area where a joist is underneath.

Step 5: Continue – Work your way around the room until the subfloor is down. Cut the edges and put them in place as well, leaving a slight gap for expansion and contraction.

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on December 9, 2022.

Although it is not recommended to put plywood over hardwood, it can be done. The hardwood floor may shift under the plywood but if you are putting in another type of flooring such as new hardwood or carpeting, it is a good choice.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on December 9, 2022.

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