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Types of Subfloor Required for Hardwood Flooring

August 11, 2021
Roberto

Most people do not think about their subfloor when considering new hardwood flooring. But this foundation for your hardwoods is one of the most important parts of your installation. It is the part that lies under solid hardwood or engineered hardwood floors, out of view. But it provides the strength and longevity of your investment. Below, we look at the types of subfloor required for hardwood floors and factors you should consider before your flooring project begins.

Four Layers of Hardwood Flooring

Your smooth, beautifully sanded and stained hardwoods are not just simple planks pieced together. Instead, they are the top layer of four. Each layer performs its own function. 

These layers include:

  • Joists, the parallel structures running between beams or walls to hold up the floor
  • Subfloor, the structural layer on top of joists that provides a stable, solid surface for people, furniture and household elements
  • Underlayment, the layer over the subfloor that provides a smooth and flat surface on which flooring is installed
  • Hardwood flooring, whether solid hardwoods or engineered hardwoods, the layer visible within your living spaces

Installation of Your Hardwoods

The types of subfloor used in your home determine appropriate methods for installing your hardwoods. The most common methods for installation include stapling or nailing the flooring to the subfloor. While this works well for solid hardwoods and engineered hardwoods alike, you have more options with engineered flooring. For these, you can also choose to glue down your flooring or use floating installation.

Ideal Types of Subfloor for Hardwoods

The ideal types of subfloor for hardwoods are generally plywood. Although plywood is the best material, it is available in varied thicknesses. You should talk to your hardwood flooring pros at Tri Point Flooring about your subfloor to ensure the existing material suits your installation. This typical thickness is 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick plywood.

Besides varied thicknesses for plywood, these types of subfloor are also available in multiple forms. Your hardwoods are less likely to squeak if you use tongue-and-groove plywood. Tongue-and-groove sheets fit together more securely.

The Moisture Factor in Types of Subfloor

When installing hardwoods, it is important to consider moisture as a factor. Your subfloor must stay just as dry as your hardwood surface to prevent damage to this critical layer of your installation. Pay particular attention to the moisture factor if placing hardwoods in a kitchen, mudroom, bathroom or laundry room. 

Moisture damages all layers it comes into contact with, making it very important to keep your floors dry and use proper materials. You must protect your subfloor from water seepage from surface spills or leaks. Seal any cracks and ensure it is not uneven in any areas. Water can pool in uneven spots of subflooring, leading to rotting.

By installing the right types of subfloor for your hardwoods and ensuring they stay moisture-free, you can enjoy your hardwoods much longer.

Pay Attention to Flooring Grade

Even the best types of subfloor cannot provide a good surface for solid hardwoods below grade. Installing hardwoods below the outside ground level makes it almost impossible for moisture to evaporate from beneath the flooring. Since basements are typically below grade, you should install engineered hardwoods in these areas of your home. You can find engineered hardwoods that look similar to the solid hardwoods used in above-grade levels. 

Pay attention to types of subflooring used above-grade. For these levels of your home, the strength of your subfloor and joists are critical to the durability of your installed flooring. Ensure the subfloor is strong and rigid enough to support solid hardwoods. Use OSB or plywood, not particle board or chipboard. 

The best scenario for solid hardwood flooring installation above-grade is OSB or plywood of 3/4" or more. But particle board and chipboard can work for engineered hardwoods.

Turn to the TriPoint Flooring Pros for the Best Hardwood Flooring Installation

When you want to ensure your hardwood flooring is installed for beauty, durability and longevity, you only need to enlist the help of the pros at TriPoint Flooring. We will ensure you have the right type of subfloor as a foundation for your new hardwoods. Call us today for a consultation in Raleigh, Apex or Cary, NC at (919) 771-7542.

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