Installing Laminate Over Hardwood Floors (Can You Do it?)

Laminate is a floating floor that stays over most surfaces. So, can you install laminate over a hardwood floor?

You can install laminate over a hardwood floor as long as the hardwood is in good condition and has an even surface. Laminate is a floating floor installed over any flat and strong surface.

However, if the hardwood is damaged or cracked, you must repair (or replace) it before laying laminate planks over it. If you don’t, the laminate planks won’t lock because of the uneven surface of the subfloor.

Things To Know

If the hardwood floor is in good condition, laminate planks will stay over it. That’s because laminate is a floating floor designed to stay over even (flat) surfaces. A hardwood floor is in good condition if the floor is flat, even, dry, and has no damaged areas.

Floating floors are designed with a lock mechanism that allows planks to lock with each other. This means floating floors don’t need to be glued or nailed on the subfloor. The locking mechanism is strong enough to hold the planks in one place. 

A floating floor won’t stick over uneven or damaged subfloors. The planks must lay flat for the locking mechanism to work. If the surface isn’t flat, the locks on the laminate won’t lock (stick), and the floor will be uneven.

You also need a waterproof underlayment between the laminate and hardwood floor. That’s because hardwood floors are porous and will allow water to pass through. So, if the subfloor is exposed to a water leak, the laminate planks will also be exposed. This leads to bouncy, swollen, or separating planks. 

Also, if any part of the hardwood is weak, rotten, or damaged in any form, you must replace it. If not, the laminate won’t stay over it and can damage the planks permanently. 

Pros/Cons

Here are the pros and cons:

Pros

  1. Laying laminate over hardwood is easier than re-installing hardwood. 
  2. You can seal, wax, or polish the floor. 
  3. Cheaper. 
  4. You can go to the old floor by just removing the laminate. 
  5. The floor is easy to clean and maintain. 
  6. The floor is durable. 

Cons

  1. Laminate floors are not as strong as hardwood floors.
  2. A floating floor doesn’t support as much weight and traffic. 
  3. Planks are more prone to scratches and dents. 

Installing a laminate floor over your hardwood floor will increase the floor height. This can be a good or bad thing depending on the current floor height and the height of residents. The floor will be increased by over 2-inches, depending on the size dimensions of the planks and underlayment.

Install an Underlayment or Not?

You need to install a waterproof underlayment between laminate planks and hardwood floor. That’s because hardwood is natural wood and is porous, meaning it won’t prevent water from passing through. 

So, if the hardwood is exposed to a water leak, the floor won’t prevent water from getting to the laminate planks (from underneath). If the planks are exposed to water, the floor will lift, separate, or get waterlogged. 

However, a waterproof underlayment will prevent water from getting underneath the planks. A waterproof underlayment is formulated with protective and waterproof additives that repel moisture and prevent it from penetrating its surface. 

But, if the hardwood floor already has a waterproof underlayment installed under it, you don’t need to install an extra one. Instead, just ensure the floor is dry before laying laminate planks.

How To Install Laminate Floors Over Hardwood Floors?

Putting laminate over a hardwood floor is easy if the floor is flat and in good condition. 

Here are the tools you need:

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

1. Mop and Clean The Floor

Mop and Clean The Hardwood Floor

First, mop and clean the hardwood floor. The floor must be clean and free of debris before you lay planks over it. The planks won’t sit or lock properly if you install laminate over a dirty (or filthy) floor.

To clean a hardwood floor:

  1. Sweep or vacuum the floor. 
  2. Mix detergent with water or use a floor cleaner. 
  3. Apply the mixture or cleaner to the floor.
  4. Use a floor brush to scrub the surface. 
  5. Rinse the surface with clean water. 
  6. Allow the floor to dry for a few hours. 

2. Repair The Hardwood Floor

Repair The Hardwood Floor

If the floor has cracks or gouges, you must fix them before laying laminate planks.

To fix cracks on a floor:

  1. Use joint compound or wood filler to fill them. 
  2. Wait until the joint compound dries.
  3. Remove the excess compound from the floor.
  4. Optionally, sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper. 

If the hardwood floor is heavily damaged or rotten, you must replace it. 

3. Take Your Measurements

Take Your Measurements

Measure the dimensions of the floor using a tape ruler. You must remove the baseboard trims and rubber fittings around the base of the wall and door frames to get an accurate measurement. Knowing the exact dimension of the floor allows you to know how many planks you need. 

After getting the needed laminate planks, lay them accordingly on the floor, but don’t lock them in place (yet). This helps you to know which planks go where. It also allows you to see if you need to trim any plank or not. 

4. Install a Waterproof Underlayment

Put a Waterproof Underlayment on The Hardwood Floor

Install a waterproof underlayment between the planks and the hardwood floor. 

5. Install The Laminate Planks

Install The Laminate Planks

After you install the underlayment, lay the laminate planks. Start by laying the longest planks to the shorter ones. Also, ensure the locks click in place while installing planks side-by-side. Optionally, you can use a rubber mallet to tap the planks.

Leave expansion gaps (8-15mm) between the planks so the floor can acclimate without planks clashing with each other. Wait 1-3 days for the acclimation to be completed before using the floor. 

Final Words

You can install laminate floors over the hardwood floor as long as the floor is flat and isn’t damaged or rotted. Damaged or rotten hardwood should be replaced. 

Also, since hardwood is porous, you need to install a waterproof underlayment to prevent water from affecting the laminate planks.

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