Laminate floors are a gorgeous, versatile option for any home. While it’s a long-lasting choice, if you’ve just bought a new home with old laminate floors (or your current laminate flooring has worn out), you’ll need to replace it. Many homeowners wonder if they can simply cover their old laminate floors with brand new laminate.
You shouldn’t install new laminate over old laminate flooring. Since laminate is a floating floor, each layer will expand and contract differently, which can cause issues in the future. If you opt for this route, ensure that the older laminate is even before starting the installation.
The rest of this article will examine why laminate floors aren’t the best choice to cover existing laminate. I’ll also reveal the factors worth keeping in mind if you decide to proceed with this process. At the end of the article, I’ll explain how to install new laminate over existing laminate.
Can I Install New Laminate Over Existing Laminate? Should I Do So?
It is, of course, possible to install new laminate floors over an existing layer. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea; there are several reasons for that, including:
Layering laminate floors on top of each other increases the risk of moisture becoming trapped between the layers. Moisture retention can lead to severe issues, such as the growth of mold and rot. Not only can these cause floor damage, but they can also lead to uneven floors.
As they’re floating floors, laminate planks and tiles aren’t attached with glue but are tightly fit together side by side during the installation process. While this makes installation easier, it also means that they’ll expand and contract according to the weather.
Adding a new layer of laminate tiles or planks over the existing floor creates tension in your flooring. This tension happens because the two layers expand and contract against one another, which, in turn, creates friction.
Friction can stress out the joints in your laminate floors, causing significant wear and tear. Some floors may even track and become damaged, significantly affecting the lifespan of the laminate.
Effect on the Rest of the Space
Adding an extra flooring layer means that your floors will be taller than they were before. This, in turn, often means that the doors in the room will get stuck against the planks, forcing you to trim them to a more reasonable height.
Trimming the doors takes a significant amount of time and effort. Additionally, should you ever decide to take apart and reinstall your floors completely, you may face issues due to the trimmed door openings.
One option you can consider to avoid these issues is to cover the existing laminate floor with adhesive and a thin laminate sheet instead of installing an entirely new floor. A laminate sheet is also the more durable of the two options, not to mention more affordable.
However, we usually reserve this method for laminate countertops, and it may be difficult for you to find a laminate sheet that’s suitably large enough. Instead, you can use this method if a small area of your laminate floors gets worn out, so you don’t have to worry about relaying the floor to get an even look.
What Is a Floating Floor?
The biggest reason that attempting to lay new laminate over existing laminate floors can cause issues is that laminate is a type of floating floor.
A floating floor is essentially a special kind of method used when installing floors. Floating floors come in a range of materials, from laminates and vinyl to engineered hardwood.
In this installation, planks or tiles interlock with each other edge-to-edge to create the flooring surface. This surface rests upon the underlayment without the need to use any glue or stone.
Floating floors are popular for several reasons. For example, they’re easy to install, making them the flooring installation method of choice for DIYers and amateurs. They also allow homeowners to save money on installation fees and are generally the more affordable option.
Finally, they’re easier to remove if necessary. This is why I recommend simply pulling up your old laminate floorboards and relaying the floor instead of installing a newer layer of laminate flooring over it.
Things to Consider Before Installing Laminate Over Laminate
If you choose to install new laminate over old laminate, there are a few considerations that you should keep in mind:
Check the existing laminate flooring to make sure that it’s completely even. If there are any depressions in the existing subfloor, the new laminate will have similar issues. These issues can cause the connection between the joints of the new laminate to fail, resulting in a damaged floor.
Even if you use a thick layer of underlayment, the structural problem will still exist. While there may be some masking of the depression, you will ultimately still face the same issues. Worse, this will likely damage the original laminate flooring as well, which means you’ll have to pull out all the laminate and start completely fresh.
If the edges of the old laminate are under the floor trims and molding, you’ll first have to remove the trim. After that, you’ll need to install the new laminate on top of the existing floor and re-trim everything. This can be a relatively time-consuming effort, particularly if you have used nails in any portion of the trim.
How to Install Laminate Over Laminate
If you choose to install a new layer of laminate, the process is relatively simple. In fact, it’s more or less the same process you would follow when laying out a new laminate floor.
- Circular saw
- Table saw
- Tape measure
- Speed square
- Spacers (you can use scrap wood for this)
- Install the underlayment. Foam is usually the best choice for laminate, and opting for an underlayment with an attached vapor barrier, like the Roberts First Step Underlayment, is a good idea. This is because the vapor barrier acts as an additional layer of protection against moisture retention. Make sure to trim the underlayment to fit against the walls and secure the seams.
- Lay out the first row of planks. Make sure the planks are securely locked side-by-side. Don’t forget to trim off the tongues of the planks that will edge against the wall using a table saw or circular saw. And remember to leave about 1/4 – 3/8 inch of space from the wall to allow room for expansion and contraction.
- Cut the last plank of the row. In most situations, the last plank in a row will be too big to fit, meaning you’ll have to trim it. Measure the length precisely and cut the last plank as appropriate using a circular saw or jigsaw. Don’t discard the cut-off piece – this will act as the first plank in the next row.
- Finish laying out the rest of the floor. Once you’ve completed the first row, you can now work on finishing the other rows of planks. Insert the tongue of these planks into the grooves on the planks in the previous row. This will lock the joints together and create a sturdy connection.
- Install the last row. You will likely need to rip the planks using a table saw or circular saw to ensure they fit. Remember to leave a 1/4 inch expansion gap between the floors and the walls. Remove the spacers, and install the molding.