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Can You Put Laminate Over Hardwood? Answered



V Susan
Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about woodworking, general DIY and home improvement. If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com


Can you put laminate over hardwood?

Planning to replace your old hardwood floor without having to go through the hassle of removing the existing flooring?

Laminate flooring is the way to go.

Yes, you can put laminate over hardwood flooring, provided that the existing floor is flat and has no major defects. Laminate flooring over hardwood not only gives your room a significantly more appealing look at a lower cost but also makes maintenance and cleaning easier.

This article provides a detailed guide about the process of installing laminate flooring over hardwood flooring while providing insights about the things to consider to attain the best results.

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Before Installing Laminate Over Hardwood Consider these

Installing laminate flooring over hardwood provides a fresh new look to the place at a reasonable cost.

Furthermore, it provides good resistance to wear against water spillage and moisture.

However, there are a few things that you need to consider before you start installing your laminate floors over the hardwood flooring.

Inspect the Hardwood Flooring

Protruding nails on an old wood flooring
Protruding nails on an old wood flooring

The very first thing to consider before installing laminate flooring is to check whether the pre-existing hardwood flooring is properly fixed and does not contain any loose panels.

Both the hardwood and subfloor should be in good condition. In case of damage, it should be repaired or replaced before the laminate is installed.

Walk around the room to see if any of the floors are moving. Additional nails or screws should be hammered into any floorboard that is moving. 

Installing laminate flooring over loose hardwood panels may result in the short life of the flooring, as the joints may come loose along with the hardwood flooring.

Furthermore, check that the floor is completely level and flat.

Installing laminate flooring over uneven hardwood flooring will lead to the loosening of joints of the laminate flooring.

Look for any nails or fasteners that are protruding out. If there are any, remove them or push them into the wood floor.

Check for the Effects of Increasing the Floor Height

Door installed flush with the existing floor
Door installed flush with the existing floor

Installing laminate flooring over an existing hardwood floor raises the floor a few units.

This increase in the floor height can affect the doors, trims, moldings, or closet doors in your room, so keep this in mind before you begin laying down the laminates.

Check If Hardwood is Repairable

You can repair or refinish hardwood flooring if it is in good condition.

Repairing entails using wood filler to cover gaps, cracks, and holes, as well as replacing damaged or missing panels.

Refinishing your floor entails sanding away the top layer of wood and adding new stain and lacquer over the existing wood to make it look glossy and new again.

Refinishing hardwood floors is an excellent way to prolong the life of your flooring and is less expensive and safer for the environment than replacing it entirely. 

However, take into consideration that refinishing a floor can be time-consuming.

Before staining or coating the hardwood, any structural or cosmetic repairs must be completed. Also, keep in mind that not all hardwood floors can be refinished.

If you don’t want to deal with this, instead of having your hardwood floors refinished, you can put laminate flooring over them. 

Check the Laminate Material

The type of material used in the laminate is important when putting laminate over hardwood.

Vinyl or laminate that uses a peel-and-stick adhesive or requires glue-down installation could damage the hardwood subfloor or reveal imperfections in the subfloor.

Evaluate Property Value

Hardwood flooring is a natural material that has a distinct texture and grain pattern. It is a timeless and classic flooring option that can increase a property’s overall value.

Even though laminate flooring is a low-cost option, it cannot compete with the natural beauty and durability of hardwood flooring.

Therefore, it is always advised to repair hardwood flooring, if possible, rather than installing laminate flooring.

How to Install Laminate Over Hardwood?

Installing laminate flooring over hardwood flooring requires a few easy steps. However, it is important to follow each step carefully to avoid any errors or mistakes.

Step 1: Surface Preparation

Repairing hardwood floor before installing laminate flooring
Repairing hardwood floor before installing laminate flooring

Before you begin installing the laminate, ensure the floor is clean and clear of dirt or debris.

Even the smallest particle of debris can cause your floor to lift, resulting in an uneven surface of the flooring.

Inspect the hardwood flooring for nails, staples, fasteners, or any other damages or imperfections, then repair or replace any damaged planks.

Small holes or uneven surfaces can be repaired by using wood putty, such as SEISSO Wood Putty to fill the hole and smoothen it out.

Furthermore, gaps in the wooden flooring can provide a passage for moisture to seep under the laminate flooring and damage the flooring in the long run.

Step 2: Laminate Preparation

The first step is to determine how many laminate panels are needed.

Laminate flooring is supplied in boxes with around 15 to 25 square feet of flooring in each box.

Measure the length and width of your room using a measuring tape to determine how many boxes and how many total square feet you will require.

Note that based on the thickness, length, and width of the laminate flooring, the square footage provided in each box varies.

Generally, it is advised to buy around 10% more laminate and round up to complete full boxes to compensate for the errors made during cutting and installation.

The most important thing to remember is that you must allow your laminate flooring to acclimate to the humidity and temperature of the room in which it will be installed. 

To accomplish this, remove the panels from the box and place them in the room for 36 to 48 hours.

Always follow the manufacturer’s directions to find out how long your laminate flooring needs to acclimate.

Step 3: Install the Underlay

The laminate can be laid directly on top of the hardwood flooring if it has an inbuilt underlayer. 

If the laminate does not come with an inbuilt underlayer, you will need to roll out and tape your underlayment to the hardwood before installing your first laminate boards.

The underlay should be properly cut to fit all the surface area of the floor. It provides additional cushioning and helps in sound absorption.

Step 4: Install the Laminate over Hardwood

Installing laminate flooring
Installing laminate flooring

Check that all of the laminate is in good condition and free of defects. Before installing the laminate, make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions.

When installing laminate flooring, it is important to maintain a 1/4″ gap along the edges of the room to allow for expansion of the laminate panels due to changing temperature and humidity conditions in the long run.

You can use laminate installation kit, such as REXBETI installation kit, that includes spacers to ensure a uniform gap along the perimeter of the flooring.

The first row of laminates plays an important role in determining the alignment of the flooring.

Therefore, it is advised to measure a 1/4″ gap from the wall and hammer in a nail on the place, followed by hammering another nail at the same distance on the other end.

Then tie a string tightly between these nails and use it as a reference for ensuring the straightness of the initial row of laminates.

Pay close attention to the pattern you are creating on the panel and look out to avoid placing two identical pieces next to one another.

Preferable pattern for installing laminate panels
Preferable pattern for installing laminate panels

It is important to make sure that the ends of the panels do not all line up at the same position while installing the following row.

It not only looks bad, but it also reduces the overall dimensional stability of the laminate floor.

Apart from that, a precise cut is crucial for a perfect fit. If the panels are not cut to the right size, they may result in gaps or inaccurate installation.

You may see a gap between one row and the next as you arrange the panels. Gently push them into place with a hammer and the tapping block.

The tapping block distributes the hammer’s force uniformly and prevents laminate panels from deforming under the action of force exerted by the hammer.

Repeat these steps for additional rows until the floor area is completely covered.

Keep in mind to leave an expansion gap of 1/4″ at the first and last laminate panels of each row, and also along the entire length of the last row. 

You may need to rip your last row of panels to ensure that everything fits properly. Ripping a panel is the process of cutting a straight lengthwise cut in laminate flooring rather than widthwise.

To allow for the gap, reduce 1/4″ from the measurement of the distance between the panel and the wall. Cut the laminate panels after marking these measurements on the board.

After the installation is finished, properly clean and inspect the flooring to make sure there are no gaps, irregularities, or defects.

Laminate Flooring vs Hardwood Flooring

ParametersLaminate FlooringHardwood Flooring
AppearanceVariety of colors and textures.Provide beauty of natural wood 
CostAffordable costExpensive
DIY-FriendlinessEasy DIY-installProfessional help needed 
DurabilityDurable and last usually 15 yearsDurable and long-lasting
Maintenance and cleaning Easy to maintain and cleanChances of dirt trap, special cleaning products needed
Environment friendlyNot environmentally friendlyMade of natural wood
Pet-FriendlinessScratch resistant (better for pets)Get scratches from pets or nails 
Laminate flooring vs hardwood flooring

Laminate or Hardwood- Which is Aesthetically more Appealing?

Although laminate flooring has advanced to produce a variety of colors, patterns, and textures to choose from, the naturally appealing look and finish of hardwood are unmatchable.

If you are looking for a superior look with excellent durability, it is always advised to go for hardwood flooring.

However, the wide variety of laminate flooring is preferable when you want to match the flooring with he already existing interiors of your room.

Laminate or Hardwood- Which is Cheaper?

When choosing between laminate and hardwood flooring, the cost is the most important thing to consider.

The premium feel and appearance of hardwood comes at a higher price, and is, therefore, recommended for applications where good quality and appearance are preferable over cost.

On the other hand, laminate flooring is a cheaper alternative to wood flooring that provides a similar appearance but lacks the premium texture and feel of wood.

Therefore, laminate flooring is a cost-effective option for those looking to renovate their flooring on a budget. 

Laminate or Hardwood- Which is Easier to Install?

Hardwood flooring is more challenging to install than laminate floors.

Unlike certain varieties of hardwood, installing laminate panels does not require any nailing or adhesive. It’s a basic tongue-and-groove system that can be installed in a single day.

Therefore, laminate flooring is ideal for a DIY project, while installing hardwood flooring might require professional help.

Laminate or Hardwood- Which is More Durable?

Laminate floor wearing over long time
Laminate floor wearing over a long time

Laminate flooring excels in the durability category due to its sturdy, scratch-resistant wear layer, making it an excellent choice for high-traffic areas or houses with children and pets.

Hardwood, on the other hand, is natural wood flooring, making it slightly more susceptible to wear and tear under certain conditions.

To put it briefly, both alternatives are strong and long-lasting and can endure places with a lot of foot traffic, but hardwood flooring is comparatively more prone to damage when subjected to high moisture content.

Laminate or Hardwood- Which Requires less Maintenance?

Mopping laminate floor
Mopping laminate floor

Laminate flooring is low maintenance and easy to clean, making it great for working households looking for a low-maintenance flooring option.

Hardwood, on the other hand, needs routine upkeep like sweeping, cleaning, and occasionally refinishing/polishing because it has more pores and grains that can trap dirt. 

For those who are ready to put in the effort to maintain their flooring and want to preserve its natural beauty, hardwood flooring is preferable.

Laminate and Hardwood- Are they Eco-friendly?

Currently, sustainable, renewable, and recyclable solutions outperform other products chosen just for their appearance.

Hardwood flooring is manufactured from natural wood, which is biodegradable, sustainable, and renewable. As a result, it is an environmentally friendly solution.

Many manufacturers are now producing laminate flooring from renewable materials that can be recycled, making it an environmentally friendly material.

Furthermore, laminate flooring is simple to clean with soap and water, eliminating the need for harsh cleaning chemicals. This makes them an excellent choice for people who suffer from allergies.

Laminate or Hardwood- Which is More Pet-friendly?

Pet dog on a laminate flooring
Pet dog on a laminate flooring

Pet owners love laminate floors because of their wear-resistant layer that protects them from scratches, dents, and stains.

Natural hardwood has the drawback that it is prone to scratching and can be difficult to clean up odors from pets.

Although minor scratches on hardwood flooring can be repaired, these repair patches can reduce the aesthetic appearance of the flooring, when performed frequently over a long period of time.

Final Thoughts

Laminate flooring is an excellent alternative if your existing hardwood flooring has lost its luster over time.

You can install the laminate flooring over the existing hardwood flooring, provided the floor is uniform and intact.

However, hardwood flooring is comparatively more appealing and brings about more value to the property.

Therefore, it is always advised to repair and re-finish the hardwood flooring, if possible.

Compared to hardwood flooring, laminate flooring is more affordable, easy to maintain and clean, and pet-friendly, making it ideal for users who do not want to spend a lot of time maintaining their flooring.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What if the doors are almost scraping against the hardwood before the laminate is installed?

The doors must be removed and then shaved or cut to match the new floor height. Check that all of the doors continue to function properly without snagging on the installed laminate.

Is it possible to install laminate flooring in the bathroom?

Yes, laminate flooring can be installed in bathrooms. These laminated panels should be entirely waterproof and acceptable for use in ‘wet areas’.

How is the warranty of the laminate flooring voided?

The warranty of the laminate flooring may be void if the panels are not installed according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, if they are installed outside or exposed to direct sunlight or artificial light, if they are not properly maintained and cleaned, etc.

V Susan
Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about woodworking, general DIY and home improvement. If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com