Can You Put Laminate Over Hardwood Floors? (How-To)

Laminate floors are easy to install on virtually any type of subfloor but can you install a laminate floor on an existing hardwood floor?

You can install a laminate floor over a hardwood floor as long as the existing hardwood floor is in good condition. Laminate is a floating floor meaning that it can be installed on any flat and strong base like your hardwood floor as long as the hardwood hasn’t suffered any damage.

If the hardwood has suffered water damage or the wood is cracked or broken, then you need to fix the existing hardwood floor before installing laminate planks on it. Also, installing a laminate floor over an existing hardwood floor will increase your floor height.

This post reveals all you need to know about installing a laminate floor over a hardwood floor including the steps to do this. So, let’s dive in.

Will a Laminate Floor Stay on a Hardwood Floor?

A well-installed laminate floor will stay on a hardwood floor because laminates are floating floors that will stay on any flat and strong surface like hardwood flooring. The only reason for otherwise is if the hardwood floor is damaged.

In this case, the hardwood floor will not be stable enough to support the laminate planks and this can cause the laminate flooring to shift, vibrate, squeak, and even separate.

Laminate floors are called floating floors. This is because the laminate planks are not to be nailed, glued, or bonded to the subfloor. Floating floors like laminate are usually designed with a click and lock mechanism on the sides of the laminate planks. The locks help the laminate planks stay together to form the laminate floor.

The main requirement to install a laminate floor is for the base to be strong and flat. It doesn’t matter if the surface is a hardwood floor or a concrete slab. As long as it’s flat and strong, the laminate flooring will stay on it.

So as long as your hardwood floor is strong, flat, and in good condition, you can put a laminate floor on it and it will stay. But being flat and strong are just two of the things to know before installing a laminate floor over a hardwood floor. Let’s find out more next.

Things To Know Before Installing a Laminate Floor Over a Hardwood Floor

Here are important things to know before installing a laminate floor over a hardwood floor:

The Hardwood Floor Should Be Flat and Even

A very important factor is for the hardwood floor to be even and flat. This determines if you’ll enjoy a beautiful and strong laminate floor or a laminate floor riddled with problems.

If the hardwood floor is bumpy, riddled with nail holes and dents, or rough for any reason, the laminate floors will either separate or lift. You should fix uneven hardwood by sanding.

The Hardwood Floor Should Be Dry

Before putting a laminate floor on hardwood, the hardwood should be completely moisture-free. This means to mop any spills on the hardwood.

If the hardwood has soaked water, it’s best to let the hardwood dry first. If you install a laminate floor over wet hardwood flooring, the moisture in the hardwood will cause the laminate planks to become wet. This can also cause lifting, buckling, and bubbling on the laminate floor.

You Need a Waterproof Underlayment on the Hardwood Floor

A waterproof underlayment or padding must be put on the hardwood floor before the laminate planks are installed. This is even more important for old hardwood floors.

The reason for the underlayment is to protect the laminate floor from water damage in case of a flood or leaks underneath the hardwood floors.

Though hardwood floors are water-resistant, the hardwood loses this moisture resistance over time. If it’s an old hardwood floor, it will not be enough to protect the laminate planks from water damage. So, a waterproof underlayment is important.

Weak and Damaged Hardwood Should Be Replaced

To allow the laminate floor to stay strong and durable on the hardwood floor, the hardwood has to be completely strong and durable too.

If any part of the hardwood is weak, rotten, or damaged in any form, the hardwood should be replaced. Not replacing such hardwood will put the homeowners at risk of injuries as the laminate floor can give way at any time.

Next, let’s check out the pros and cons of installing a laminate floor over a hardwood floor.

Should You Install Laminate Floor Over Hardwood Floor?

Here are the pros and cons:

Pros

Here are the biggest perks of installing a laminate floor over an existing hardwood floor:

  1. The task is much easier than reinstalling a hardwood floor
  2. Laminate floors can mimic the appearance of a hardwood floor making visitors wonder what you have done with your flooring
  3. Laminate floors can be sealed, waxed, or polished to offer different sheen levels
  4. Putting a laminate floor over a hardwood floor is a cheaper alternative than removing the hardwood floor first
  5. You can go back to the old hardwood floor anytime you want by just removing the laminate floor
  6. Laminate floors are easy to clean and maintain
  7. The laminate floor will not chip or damage the hardwood floor

Cons

  1. Laminate floors are not as strong as hardwood floors
  2. The laminate floor might not support the weight and traffic that the hardwood floor used to support
  3. Laminate floors are more prone to scratches and dents than hardwood floors

You should know that installing a laminate floor over your hardwood floor will increase the floor height. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the current floor height and the height of residents. A laminate floor can increase your floor height by over 2 inches depending on the size dimensions of the planks and the underlayment.

Do You Need an Underlayment Before Putting Laminate Planks on a Hardwood Floor?

You need an underlayment before putting laminate planks on a hardwood floor to protect the laminate floor from water damage.

This is why you should only go for a waterproof underlayment. Asides from water protection, the underlayment will also make the laminate planks adjust quickly and easily to the floor.

Laminate floor underlayment is a wrap of waterproof foam padding that is usually put on the subfloor before installing the laminate planks. The underlayment is tough, strong, and waterproof meaning that water will not get underneath the laminate planks.

Whether your laminate floor needs this underlayment or not largely depends on the condition of the hardwood floor and the room the laminate planks are being installed.

If you want to install the laminate floor on your existing bathroom or kitchen hardwood floor, an underlayment is very compulsory to protect the floor from water damage. If the hardwood floor is uneven, you need an underlayment too to provide an even base for the laminate planks.

Next, let’s learn how to install a laminate floor over a hardwood floor.

How To Install Laminate Floors Over Hardwood Floors?

Installing a laminate floor over a hardwood floor is an easy task as long as you know the right steps to follow. But we’ll need a few tools and supplies:

  • A mop
  • A floor brush
  • Wood caulk
  • A vacuum
  • Laminate floor planks
  • A waterproof underlayment
  • A rubber mallet

Here is a five-step guide on how to install a laminate floor over a hardwood floor:

1. Mop and Clean The Hardwood Floor

Mop and Clean The Hardwood Floor

The first step is to ensure that the hardwood is clean and free of debris. If you install a laminate floor over a filthy hardwood floor, you will not be able to get rid of the filth without removing the laminate boards first.

This can permanently discolor or stain the hardwood floor. Also, dust nibs and debris on the hardwood need to be removed so the planks can slide into each other.

To do this, start by sweeping or vacuuming the hardwood floor. After, mix some detergent in water and use a floor brush and the mixture to scrub the floor. Then use a mop to wipe the floor and wait for it to get dry.

2. Repair The Hardwood Floor

Repair The Hardwood Floor

When the hardwood floor is dry, check for cracks, gouges, and chips in the wood. All of these should be filled with joint compound or wood filler.

If the hardwood has been heavily damaged or rotten, ensure to replace the wood. All patches and repairs on the hardwood must be given enough time to dry before going on with the task. When you have repaired the floor, ensure to sand it to smoothen the hardwood.

3. Take Your Measurements

Take Your Measurements

The next step is to measure the hardwood floor. To do this, start by removing the baseboard trims and rubber fittings around the base of the wall and door frames.

This is to get an accurate measurement of the floor. After, use a tape rule to measure the width and length of the hardwood floor. This helps you to know the right size dimensions of the laminate planks that you’ll need.

After taking your measurement, lay the laminate planks accordingly on the hardwood floor but don’t lock the laminate planks in place yet. This is just to know which laminate plank goes where. Doing this will also help you discover if you need to trim the laminate planks or not. To trim the planks into size, use a power saw.

4. Put a Waterproof Underlayment on The Hardwood Floor

Put a Waterproof Underlayment on The Hardwood Floor

When you have the right sizes of laminate planks to use, lay a waterproof underlayment on the hardwood floor. Ensure the underlayment covers the entire hardwood floor.

5. Install The Laminate Planks

Install The Laminate Planks

With the underlayment in place, you can install the laminate planks. Ensure to lay the planks correctly starting from the longest planks to the shorter ones. Also, be sure that the locks click in place while installing the planks side-by-side. You can use a runner mallet to tap the planks if needed.

Also, ensure to leave expansion gaps between the laminate floor and the walls to allow the floor to adjust. You are advised to leave between 8mm and 15mm between the planks and the bottom walls.

Final Words

In summary, you can install a laminate floor over a hardwood floor easily. You just have to ensure that the hardwood floor is in good condition before laying the laminate planks over it.

Any dent, gouge, or crack in the hardwood should be repaired. Damaged and rotten hardwood should be replaced. You should also ensure to install the planks by sliding the locks correctly in place.

Also, remember that laminate planks aren’t as strong as hardwood floors so take it easy on the laminate floor.

Leave a Comment