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Can You/Should You Lay Linoleum Over Hardwood?

Laying your own floor covering can be hard enough as it is. If you are considering laying linoleum over a hardwood floor, I’m sure you have been looking for all the ways to make the job as easy as possible and to do it right. This guide will help you understand more about laying linoleum over your hardwood floor.

Linoleum can be installed over any floor, including hardwood, provided it has been prepared properly. This involves making the surface flat, dry, level and smooth by sanding and levelling the wood, vacuuming and tightening nails/screws. This can also be achieved by using an underlayment instead.

Linoleum floor installation

I will go into more detail about laying linoleum over a hardwood floor and things to consider before making the decision to do so. I will also provide a step-by-step guide to help you through the process.

Can You Lay Linoleum Over Hardwood?

Man thinking and coming up with an idea

Linoleum, also known as ‘lino’, is a natural floor covering made from a mixture of materials. This includes linseed oil, pine resin, powdered cork, sawdust and mineral fillers. With the correct preparation, lino can be installed over any surface or subfloor.

There are two types of linoleum flooring available. Adhesive lino comes in either large sheets or individual tiles that are glued down. Linoleum planks are similar to a floating floor; the thick planks of lino are clicked together, resting over an underlayment.

Both types of linoleum can be installed over a hardwood subfloor. However, the hardwood must be flat, dry, level and smooth for the lino to be installed correctly. Installing over hardwood in this condition will also extend the lifespan of the lino.

Below is an outline that explains the reasons why the hardwood surface must be this way.


The lino will settle into the surface of the hardwood. Any bumps or dips will show in the finished floor covering. This can create uneven areas of wearing and create a tripping hazard in the future.


Lino is a porous material and therefore susceptible to water damage. Any moisture coming up through the subfloor can contribute to this. Fortunately, hardwood is naturally moisture-resistant.


As with any floor covering, you want the ground to be level.


A smooth surface will allow the adhesive material to stick better to prevent lifting of the lino pieces.

This surface is usually only achieved with hardwood after some preparation, because hardwood will normally warp with age. I will discuss this preparation in more detail further down.

In theory, you can install lino over hardwood at any point, but the results could be disastrous if the preparation is not done correctly. Both the visual appeal and the longevity of the lino will be compromised.

There are also benefits and disadvantages to consider when installing linoleum over hardwood.

Benefits of Installing Linoleum over Hardwood

People usually install lino for its comfort and warmth underfoot compared to other floor coverings, such as tiles. Hardwood will contribute to this comfort, being warmer and more forgiving than a concrete slab.

Hardwood is also more moisture resistant than concrete, which will help to keep the linoleum dry. This will help to prevent mould and damage from the moisture, such as lifting.

Disadvantages of Installing Linoleum over Hardwood

Unfortunately hardwood is not a naturally smooth, flat and level surface. Wood will buckle over time and this means the surface is not ideal for lino unless it has been prepared.

One major issue involves the nails or screws used to secure the hardwood. If they are not embedded deeper than surface level in the wood, they will cause lumps in the lino. They can also cause damage from wearing over time.

Another issue is the gaps between the wood. If these gaps are too wide, the linoleum will eventually start to sink between these gaps. This will degrade the appearance of the lino.

Another disadvantage is that the hardwood may be irreparably damaged in the process of installing the lino. When laying the lino, the hardwood floor may be sanded, levelled with cement or have glue applied to the entire surface. Some people may also plug the gaps between the wooden planks with caulk or cement.

As you can imagine, this process will likely destroy the hardwood underneath. Even if it is still salvageable, it would take a lot of effort to bring it back to a condition that can be used as a floor covering.

It might not be worth destroying a hardwood floor for the sake of installing cheaper lino that will not last as long. This leads us to the nest question about installing lino over a hardwood floor.

Should You Put Linoleum Over Hardwood?

Linoleum floor installation

As you can see, there are some benefits to installing linoleum over hardwood, but there are also major disadvantages. Although you can certainly install linoleum over a hardwood floor, it may not be worth ruining for the sake of the lino.

Overall, a hardwood floor is more expensive to install. Therefore having a hardwood floor will generally increase the value of your home, more than a linoleum floor covering would. Ripping up lino that has been glued to the wood is not impossible, but very hard to do.

This is why some people prefer to install an underlayment with their lino floors. This is something that is recommended for lino planks, but will help to preserve the hardwood underneath if you choose to use adhesive linoleum as well.

The underlayment is usually made of plywood, which provides the perfect surface for laying the linoleum. It is smooth, dry, level and flat, unless there are significant issues with the hardwood beneath that.

How to Install Linoleum Over Hardwood

Linoleum floor installation

If you do end up installing linoleum over your hardwood floor, this guide can help you in the process.

Tools Required

The tools required for the preparation of the hardwood are below.

Tools Required for Preparing the Hardwood

Spirit level

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  • Ruler
  • Caulk
  • Wide putty knife
  • Self-levelling compound (preferably with electric mixer)
  • Sander
  • Hammer or screwdriver
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Pry-bar
  • Handsaw

Tools Required for Installing the Linoleum

  • Linoleum
  • Underlayment
  • Nails
  • Scissors or knife to cut linoleum
  • Masking tape
  • Linoleum adhesive
  • Floor roller

Preparing the Hardwood

Use a spirit level to determine if the floor is level and to find any dips or bumps in the hardwood. You can also use a large ruler to cover more area when looking for bumps. The ruler or spirit level should be able to sit completely flat in any area of the room.

Fill in any dips with a self-levelling compound. This should be smoothed over with a flat putty knife. Once it is dry, any rough spots should be sanded down. You may need to use caulk to plug any gaps or holes in the wood.

You should also sand down any bumps you found in the hardwood. The nails or screws should be driven into the wood so they sit below the surface.

Vacuum the entire room so that the floor is clean and remove the quarter-round with a pry-bar so that you can install the lino closer to the wall. You will also need to measure the thickness of the lino and underlayment and cut into the bottom of the door-frame with a handsaw to allow room.

Installing the Linoleum Step-By-Step

Step 1: Make sure to acclimatise the linoleum to the temperature of your home. This can be done by resting the linoleum in the room 24-hours prior to installing it.

Step 2: Lay the underlayment with a narrow gap between sheets. This can be secured with nails approximately 4 inches apart.

Step 3: Fill the gaps in the underlayment with a self-levelling compound and smooth over with the putty knife.

Step 4: Unroll the linoleum in a large open space to cut. Use the measurements of the room, but add three inches to each side.

Step 5: Take the linoleum back into the room and centre it on the floor.

Step 6: Use the ruler to create sharp creases along each wall where the excess linoleum folds up the walls.

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Step 7: Cut ‘V’ shapes out of the corners of the linoleum sheet to remove the excess folded material.

Step 8: Secure half the linoleum with masking tape and fold the other half over.

Step 9: Spread the adhesive over the exposed floor and wait until it is tacky (as per manufacturer’s guidelines).

Step 10: Set the linoleum onto the adhesive and use the roller to stick it down well. Repeat this for the other half of the linoleum.

Step 11: Wait 24-72 hours for the adhesive to dry before reattaching the quarter-rounds and moving in furniture.

Laying linoleum tiles or planks is easier than laying an entire sheet. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to complete the process with these two forms of linoleum instead.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on April 28, 2021.

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