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Can You/Should You Put Engineered Wood Over Hardwood?

Consider this situation: you’ve bought the house of your dreams, and everything is perfect— aside from the floors. Though original hardwood, they’re old, faded, and a color that doesn’t match the rest of your interior décor. Worse, they’re glued down, making them hard to remove; installing engineered wood on top of them sounds like the perfect solution, but can you do it?

You can install engineered wood over real hardwood floors. The original hardwood will serve as a subfloor, with the engineered wood forming the visible, top layer of flooring. There are two ways to do the installation: gluing or floating engineered wood on top of the hardwood.

Hardwood floor installation tools

The rest of this article will examine whether or not you should install engineered wood over hardwood. It’ll also look at whether you should install floating or glued down engineered wood floors and the process of fitting these floors over an existing hardwood subfloor.

Can You Lay Engineered Hardwood Over Hardwood?

You can install engineered wood over hardwood floors, but whether you should do so or not depends on your requirements. There are several situations where installing engineered wood over hardwood can be relatively simple:

  • If there’s plenty of height allowance. If your existing hardwood floors are very high or consist of multiple layers, you risk having to conduct more modifications, like trimming the length of any doors so they fit.
  • There are no structural deficiencies in the old floor. If there are issues, such as squeaky floorboards or an uneven surface, an additional layer of engineered wood won’t provide a solution. You’ll have to conduct repairs to the original floor first.
  • Your floor is free of asbestos. If there’s asbestos present, it’ll first need to be enclosed with a vapor barrier, after which you can lay down engineered wood. The vapor barrier will ensure that the asbestos isn’t disturbed. However, the additional step can be time-consuming and problematic, and many people prefer flooring replacement over doing so.

Should You Put Engineered Hardwood Over Hardwood?

Confused female with tools

While you can lay engineered hardwood over hardwood floors, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should do so.

You should put engineered hardwood over hardwood, as long as the old floor is free of asbestos and structurally solid. Ideally, you should also make sure that there’s enough height allowance between your old floor and the room and door trims. However, if you’re willing to make more modifications to the space, height allowance isn’t a necessity.

There are two major strategies when installing engineered wood over hardwood floors: gluing down the flooring or floating it.

Gluing Down

Gluing down your engineered wood floors involves the use of a bonding agent. How it works is simple: you apply the bonding agent or glue to the hardwood floors before installing the engineered wood floors.

This approach creates a stable floor that doesn’t shift much. The result feels much more like real hardwood than floating floors do, and there’s no risk of either a spongy feel or a hollow sound when you walk on the floor.

However, the installation process can be messy and time-consuming, particularly if you aren’t a professional. If you choose to hire a professional to install glued-down engineered wood floors, the labor costs will be higher. Additionally, if you ever want to remove or replace the floor, the removal process will be more complicated than that of a floating floor.

Floating

Floating floors don’t involve using glue or other adhesives. Instead, they use the weight of the floor itself to ensure that the planks stay in place. These floors offer more flexibility than glued-down floors, as they are designed to contract and expand with natural humidity levels.

Engineered hardwood is particularly suited to floating, and the installation process for a floating floor is relatively quick and straightforward. The natural expansion and contraction allow for less overall damage, as you don’t have to worry about it rubbing against materials such as nails or glue. Additionally, floating floors tend to be a more affordable option than glued-down floors.

However, you can’t install floating floors in kitchens and bathrooms. The heavy appliances and furniture in these areas can cause significant damage to the flooring.

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Additionally, these floors tend to shift more than glued-down floors. If not installed properly, a hollow sound can be heard when people walk on them.

Each of the two options has its pros and cons, and the decision ultimately rests on what you expect from your engineered wood floors. However, if you’re installing engineered wood over hardwood, floating floors are usually the best option. Not only are they more affordable, but they’re also easier to install, which is a significant advantage if you’re doing the installation yourself.

How To Install Engineered Hardwood Over Hardwood

Hardwood floor installation

Installing a floating engineered hardwood floor over an existing floor is relatively easy.

Tools Needed

Installing engineered wood floors doesn’t require too many tools. Aside from glue, painter’s tape, spacer blocks, and the planks themselves, you’ll need:

  • A flush-cut and a dovetail saw
  • A miter saw. I recommend the Metabo HPT 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw from Amazon.com. It is lightweight and maneuverable, with up to 5000 RPM speed, making it perfect for precision work.
  • A circular saw
  • A hammer. I recommend the Amazon Basics Claw Hammer from Amazon.com. The combination of a curved claw head and flat hammerhead makes it highly versatile, and the weight is comfortable to handle when working.
  • A flat pry bar
  • A coping saw
  • Nails

The installation process shouldn’t take too long. Barring the time needed for the glue to cure, you should be able to install your floating engineered wood floor over your existing hardwood subfloor in 8 to 10 hours.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Trim your door casings. Doing so will ensure that your doors will open and close easily when the engineered hardwood is installed. The new flooring layer will add additional height to your floor, and if the door casings aren’t trimmed, there’s a risk your doors will get stuck when used.
  2. Install the underlayment. This is usually made out of foam and provides a sound-dampening and cushioning effect. It also provides stability and support for the floating boards, supports the interlocking system that makes this type of floor installation possible, and corrects minor imperfections that might be present in your original hardwood floors.
  3. Measure the room and determine how many strips (or courses) of planks you’ll need.
  4. Install the first course of planks. Make sure the tongues are facing out. When installing additional planks, start with the grooved end so it’ll fit the last plank. Apply glue to the groove of the new pieces before installing.
  5. Lever the joint together with the help of a pry bar. Remove any excess glue.
  6. Install the rest of the planks. To keep the joints staggered, each new course should begin with flooring left over from the last one, using pieces longer than 8 inches (20.32 cm). Continue installing planks, and check to ensure joints are tight every four to six courses.
  7. Start the last course. When installing the last course, the first thing you’ll have to do is measure the width you need it to be. Keep in mind that it’ll need to be notched to fit in the doorway, so measure the course to the closer of the doorstop’s edges.
  8. With the help of a jigsaw, rip the last course to the width required. Make sure to cut in the doorway notches.
  9. Install the final course. This will require patience and dedication. You’ll have to use a pry bar to ensure that the last course is tight against the previous plank and may need to use a box and hammer.
  10. Let the glue cure. Leave the area to cure for a minimum of 12 hours. Once cured, you can remove the painter’s tape and spacers.
  11. Add the finishing touches. Depending on your preferences, you can now apply molding around the perimeter and a finish trim.

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ReadyToDiy is the owner of this article. This post was published on 2021-06-27..

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