Flooring Installation – Can I Install over Existing Floor?

If you are considering new flooring for your home, the first question will be what type of flooring you will use, and the second question will be how to install it. Many homeowners wonder if they can install new flooring over existing flooring. The answer to this question is…it depends.

There are many factors to consider before placing one type of flooring on top of another. Depending on the type of new flooring you will have installed, you want to be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Some will say the flooring can be installed over existing flooring, while others will have more detailed specifications. They will know their flooring best, so be sure to follow what the manufacturer says.

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If the flooring you purchase can be installed over existing flooring, you will still need to consider some other things. First, you need to look at the condition of the current floor. If the current flooring is fixed to the subfloor and in good condition, you may be able to apply a new flooring over top. However, if the there are broken or worn parts of the current flooring, or if the subfloor itself needs some work, you will need to remove what’s there and start from the bottom.

Next, you need to understand how the new flooring needs to be installed. Will it be glued down or nailed? If glued, you need to know what type of surface the glue needs in order to stick. Certain adhesives are not recommended over existing sheet vinyl or vinyl and cork tile flooring unless an underlayment is put down first.

Sheet vinyl, if secure, makes a fine underlayment. However, a floor-patch product usually needs to be applied (called skim-coating). This smooths over the current vinyl pattern and prevents it from showing through a new vinyl sheet on top. In addition, skim-coating provides a good adhesive surface for any vinyl sheet or vinyl plank that will be glued down.

Wood flooring can be installed over existing ceramic tile, marble or terrazzo with proper underlayment or adhesives (according to manufacturer’s recommendation).

For nail-down applications, flooring can be installed over existing sheet vinyl or vinyl tile if fastener penetration is not significantly diminished and the subfloor meets minimum requirements. Fasteners must penetrate a proper subfloor by at least 5/8”.

If installing wood flooring over an existing wood floor, there are some extra precautions. First, you want to be sure you don’t sand any surfaces containing lead based finishes/paints or asbestos. If this is not an issue, you can sand off the old finish and or high spots then prepare the flooring by making any repairs or replacements of loose boards then thoroughly cleaning the floor.

One other thing to consider when putting one type of flooring over another is the floor height. You want to make sure you aren’t making the floor too high for doors to properly open and close or for appliances in the kitchen to still fit under cabinets or be flush with the countertops.

To summarize, always check the manufacturer’s recommendations on your new flooring, be sure you are able to install it properly over existing flooring, and make sure it won’t make your floor too high. If any of these present a red flag, it’s best to tear out the current flooring and install the new directly to the subfloor.

If you have more questions about flooring installation, be sure to give us a call at 952-933-8944 or stop in our showroom to visit with one of our flooring experts.

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