Waterlogged Plywood Subfloor? Consider a Laminate Flooring Replacement.
LESLIE: Joseph in Virginia’s a WJFK listener and you’ve got a flooring question. How can we help?
JOSEPH: Hi, my home – an addition was built back in about 1979 by the previous owner. I guess they were trying to save money. They put down some kind of particleboard. Then they put vinyl self-adhesive vinyl tiles over the particleboard. Over the past few years, from our girl mopping the floor, the water has seeped down under the particleboard; made it expand. My question is I really don’t want to tear this floor out. It’s a 30×15 foot room …
JOSEPH: … and it’s a functioning office. It was a living room for the previous owner but it’s a functioning office. I wanted to know if you thought maybe I could go over it with like marine plywood and screw it down with maybe like screw nails and then put another flooring over it. Or am I working on something unstable and I’m going to be really sorry in the long run if I do that?
TOM: Well, how swollen is it? Is it just a little bit swollen? Is mostly – is mostly the problem that tiles are popping off?
JOSEPH: It’s only a little bit swollen …
JOSEPH: … and it’s the particleboard underneath that’s swollen.
TOM: I understand. So here’s what I think you should do, Joseph. I think you should think about installing laminate flooring. Because I don’t think you’re going to have to put another layer of plywood. You could, if you wanted to put, say, some quarter-inch luan under it. But if it’s not like deformed in any way, you could put underlayment down for a laminate floor – which is sort of like a soft foam or sometimes a laminate floor is actually backed with its own underlayment – and then the floor tiles themselves or the flooring strips, depending on what type you choose, actually lock together. So they make a very strong floor when it’s all done and all installed properly.
LESLIE: And they’re structurally stable …
LESLIE: … so that if it’s in a moist condition or the way you’re cleaning or whatever it is that’s in there that might compromise the integrity of the flooring, it’s not going to affect it in any way because it’s a manufactured flooring. It’s actually a plastic product that’s made to look like whatever it is you want.
JOSEPH: OK, I’m going to go ahead and do that and I’ll send you an email in a couple of weeks and I’ll tell you how it went.
LESLIE: Alright, good luck with it.
TOM: Joseph, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.