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Laminate Flooring over Hardwood Floors

June 4, 2012


I have a condo (early 1950s vintage) with oak hardwood flooring. I want to cover it with laminate. The existing floors are kind of shot. Was looking for the durability factor. I have asked some local flooring stores if I can install laminates over top the wood floors...they say sure. But wanted to check with you guys because I am not sure about the salesmans experience.

Also, there are several spots were the wood floors are not perfectly true (in the corner of the room where an end table would go at the edge of the sofa) in which is slopes down a bit.

Is there a way to handle this? Can I fit the imperfection with some sort of leveler, is such a product exists?

Was considering products at Costco, or a leftover lot of Armstrong the warehouse had for $99 a square foot. It is more than I needed, but the total cost with buying more is still less than buying other products.

Comments (44)

  • DanG4

    While you could do this my question is why? Why would anyone cover up real hardwood and replace it with hollow sounding clickety clack plastic pixtures of wood? Don't do it. You'll cheapen your property and you won't like the result.

  • parkplaza

    Yuk, I read so many postive comments about their durability.

  • PRO
    Sophie Wheeler

    Ick factor. Plus, your floor will need to be FLAT. Those areas that have problems will not lay down smooth without proper preparation. That will involve removing the existing wood and figuring out why there is a leveling problem there and fixing the root of the problem, not just a band aid for the symptom.

    Call in a professional and have your current floors refinished would probably be your best choice.

  • punman

    We had carpeting in three bedrooms, the hall, and living room and took that out for laminate flooring a month ago. We have been very happy with it. Can't comment on the leveling issues you have. Maybe hardwood is better, but we sure like the laminate where the carpet was (although we have carpet in the basement that is not as old as the upstairs stuff so it will stay).

  • mjtx2

    I'm with those who find this idea very puzzling. But to compound it with an issue like leveling, why do this? Wood floors are an expensive upgrade when building or remodeling and you're going to cover them up with the low end alternative? Have you considered refinishing and going with a beautiful stain?

  • madeyna

    We did this a few years ago and are very happy we did. Our contractor was unalble to get the floor totally level because the house was built in 1915 and has been added on several times. The kitchen addition was probly put on in the 70s without the origenal house being level and not only is that a addition but another addition was added to that at a later date so if he leveled it at this point it would have caused more problems than it solved. The solution was simple layers of old newspaper brought the floor to level without damaging the floor underneith. When the kids and pets are older we will move out for a few weeks and have the floors refinished for now this has worked great for 8 years and no damage is being done to the floor underneath. And yes I know its not being damaged because a leak in the dishwasher a few months ago caused us to have to remove part of the kitchen floor to replace the damaged laminate. The flooring underneath looked just like it did when we covered it. To reveiw news print was layered on the floor in the low areas to bring them level then the entire floor was covered with some sort of felt made for that purpose then the flooring was laid over that.

  • live_wire_oak

    Newspaper??? Sheesh. The crappy practices that some low budget contractors will do never ceases to amaze me.

    Putting laminate over wood floors is like putting Formica counters on top of granite. The basic idea is completely unsound to start with. I would even go so far as to say "stupid". You're shooting yourself in the foot financially for sure. You'd pay less than even the cost of DIY laminate to have the wood refinished for sure. Paying a pro to do the install is just throwing even more money away on plastic stuff that will end up at the landfill.

  • AdeleInTexas

    What a bunch of DIYS snobs! Did it occur to any of you to be helpful and just answer the question without judgment because perhaps the hardwood in question is beyond restoration or to restore it isn't cost effective?

    I moved into a house 5 years ago with hardwood in the family room and tile throughout the rest of the first floor. The previous occupant had several dogs of her own as well as foster dogs coming in and out that damaged the hardwood in numerous places. Of course, I have options: restore the good wood, replace the damaged pieces; replace the floor, cover the bad areas with rugs or maybe do a laminate overlay. I'm exploring them all, but why can't anyone who has absolutely no knowledge of all the issues involved just answer the question that was asked without all the yadda yadda?

  • jfcwood

    There's no technical reason why you can't lay laminate over wood. The low area can be built up with layers of 15lb. roofing felt or almost any other material that won't compress or degrade. When floating wood floors first came out it wasn't uncommon to use sand for leveling. You could use a floor patch like Ardex Feather Finish but I would avoid it in case someone decides to try to refinish the wood floor in the future.

  • dominoswrath

    As harsh as Live Wire Oak's response may come across, I have to lean in their favor. And I do believe it is VALUABLE feedback, and that's why we are here.

    it baffles me that anyone would want to put cheap over quality. Going the cheap route only leaves future owners scratching their head and asking the question we've had to ask many times - what were they thinking????? Not to mention the fact that you just devalued your home.

    Newspaper under flooring to level it? Did that contractor consider what happens when moisture hits it? Among many other issues that can crop up. *** blink *** blink *** scratching head.

    Refinish the floors. That's the logical option.

  • jakrussel3

    It may be baffling to you, but sometimes there are very good reasons to look at all of your options.

    I've been considering this too. I live in a 600 sq foot, 1 bedroom house. When I purchased the home, it had carpeting over hardwood floors. I have 2 large, shedding dogs and burned out 2 vacuums before deciding to rip out the carpet in the bedroom, living room, and dining room. The wood floors underneath were in pretty rough shape. Paint splatters, stains, serious warping, gaps, chunks missing, etc. My home is so small, there is nowhere to put the furniture in order to take a weekend to sand (it's the only way the stains are coming out), stain, and refinish the floors properly. I'd have to rent a U-Haul or something along those lines and hope no one steals it while I'm refinishing the floors. You may laugh, but that happens quite a bit around here. I'd also have to board my dogs and live elsewhere for the weekend since there is no way to get to the bathroom, kitchen, or get out of the house without stepping on the areas that need to be done. So I am looking at all flooring options. Would prefer not to do carpeting with the dogs (and my allergies), not to mention I prefer the look of hardwood or laminate. Have considered putting wood laminate over my hardwood floors and wondered if it were possible or if I'd have to rip out the current hardwood. Also wondered if I'd be able to install one side of the room at a time and simply move around the furniture based on where I'm working that day.

    Anyway, just looking at all options, trying to decide what will be easiest, most cost effective, and most convenient.

  • talk2jorge

    I love this question! Why would you cover flooring? I can give you 3 big reasons why. Maybe 4.

    So, here is my dilemma. I want to noise proof my condo. I am on the third floor and no one is over me. The problem with wood from the 1920s is that it was never made from quiet wood. The result is I can hear my neighbor below me getting it on with porn or his girlfriend. I can hear sneezing. I can hear every little thing. Snoring, yawning.

    So who am I to tell me neighbor not to make normal noises. It's wonderful refinished hardwood flooring but there was not any soundproofing in mind when this condo was built. The walls are solid plaster or exposed brick so I don'e hear the neighbors to the left or right. I have pets and their pet dander is all over the place. If I can hear my neighbor then guess what, I am sure he can hear me.

    My compromise is to cover one or both of the bedrooms with some sound deadening foam underlay then either put laminate or carpet over it. It' my bedroom. My feet get cold. I want carpet or laminate where it matters. Rugs and carpet really do help with the pet hair too. I can vacuum that up in 15 minutes as opposed to sweeping and sweeping for 45-60 minutes. Dust and dander flying all over the place. etc.

    My bathroom has wonderful tiles so I am forced to ask the same question. Do I cover it with something and put a rubber or foam dB reducing underlay? It would be 170 ft max sq footage. Investment is 1 mortgage payment at best. I can always rip it up if I sell the place. The question is how do I go about this? Thanks for your post.

  • hockeychick

    I am facing this dilemma now. We have very nice hardwood floors (white oak) but we also have three heavy dogs--each over 60lbs who have scratched and indented these floors to the point of embarrassment. Parts of it actually look dirty when it is freshly cleaned. I was so embarrassed about this that I had to cancel a neighborhood meeting at my house. I hate coming home to this every day and seeing this mess.
    I did have a few contractors come to the house and for a significant amount of money they would sand and refinish my 600 sq ft area. They all said that even with the bona traffic product I would be facing the same issues in a fairly short period of time. So do I pay the 3 to 4 grand to have this done, only to risk being in this exact situation again, or do I cover my hardwood with laminate that I love the look of, the color I want, the width I want, for half the cost until my dogs are no longer with us....I am not looking forward to this day we do not have kids, so these dogs are our babies--I am trying to figure out a viable solution that makes sense for all. So please do not judge me or chastise me for considering this option. I need a solution, not ridicule. What issues may i incur if I decided to go this route....construction wise....

  • PRO
    Sophie Wheeler

    Trim your dog's nails, keep them trimmed, and refinish. If they click, they are too long.

  • ralphevans

    Laminate flooring can be installed almost anywhere in your home, as long as you have a structurally sound, clean, dry, and flat subfloor. You can also install laminate over existing floors made of wood.

  • Rachelle McKinnon

    I am covering my six month old oak hardwood floor with laminate. The floor was being destroyed by our 80 lb dog, so we are covering it while we have her (she is only 3). When she is no longer with us, we will remove the laminate and refinish our hardwood. There is no way I would spend $3000 to refinish our hardwood just to have her destroy it again. I am a veterinarian and keep her nails trimmed short, but she still scratches it when she plays with our smaller dog. Laminate looks great. We have no intention of selling our home. Why not cover the floors to protect them for now, and we will enjoy them later when our circumstances have changed. I totally agree with covering with laminate. I was at the point that I was embarrassed to invite people over because the hardwood looks terrible in our otherwise brand new house. This was perfect solution for us!

  • pegasus1213

    I am also looking at covering our hardwood floors with laminate, our house was built in 1917.

    The house seems like the exterior walls were built then the hardwood laid before any interior walls were built as the boards seem to go under the walls. I have removed the baseboards and scraped off the many layers of paint previous owners have put over the floor. I have also found lots of areas that the gaps between the boards is 1/4" wide. Was told in order to fix the hardwood properly i would need to completely remove the interior walls so the floor can be tightened up. My question is should the laminate be laid the same direction as the hardwood or should it be laid across it??

  • publicsafety

    I have a dilemma as well. The condo board wants 80% carpet over the beautiful wood floors. I don't like wall to wall and the area carpets and runners look like patch work. So I was thinking about laminate floors with backing as an alternative if the board will agree. The idea is to place the laminate directly over the wood floors. The floors also are not perfectly level. Will it work?

  • Joy Rieckman

    I am also interested in real advice on how to or what to cover old hardwood flooring with. I have house bulit in 50s. Yes beautiful wood flooring. However the living room has sliding glass doors that open onto patio. So there is constant mud, snow, dirt being tracked in that a rug can not catch. I want some sort of flooring just for that area but I don't know how to keep level with the rest of living room. When I look up info online, everyone simply advises to keeps the old hardwood instead of coming up with a solution. Does anyone have any practical advice to give, please?

  • live_wire_oak

    You need a better rug. A good water hog rug should be able to keep the mess off of your floors. Buy 3 and change them out every couple of days while you clean one and have one ready to go.

  • Joy Rieckman

    Never heard of the kinda rug lol... I will check it out! Thanks!

  • Chahumpi

    Another reason to put laminate over wood is my 1920 house that has had various floor treatments over the century. At some point, there was linoleum, evidenced by the cut off door moldings and cellar door, and the chunks that were still under the old counters we just removed. There are also pinprick holes all over. If you leave the basement light on at night, the darkened kitchen looks like you are standing on a starry sky. The laundry area below the basement is covered with dirt that has sifted through all those holes. The 1960 room addition off the kitchen is at least 1/4" higher than the kitchen floor and I need to tile that cement floor. I believe it's time for laminate. Aesthetically, I'd love to stay with the heart pine, but refinishing isn't enough. Oh, and there is no subfloor-- just the pine boards, so there's no insulation.

  • Hesh Halt

    I got old hardwood floors on the second floor most of which is damaged in the bedrooms but good in the living room. However these old style hardwood floors have no underlayment, and are very thin. Sanding, finishing, and replacing damaged ones is possible but would be very noisy for the lower level. I plan on renting out a room downstairs so i want sound proof. I insulated the ceiling below and will be putting laminate planks which to me look even better then alot of the hardwood planks (not typical laminate flooring) with floormuffler underlayment. I hope it looks good. I will take a picture and let u know how it goes. My question is should i remove the old hardwood floor? or just go ahead and put it on top? Structurally my contractor says its better for my house to keep the old floors in place. I live in CA.

  • Connie Cable

    So, we are dealing with this issues too, but for an entirely different reason. We have no dogs and no children in the home now. We built our house in 1988 and put down hardwood in the living room several years ago. It continues up the stairway to the second level hallway. Now, we are removing a wall and extending the room. When the house was built, we could only afford carpet and linoleum. We now have different levels of sub-floors, and are unable to come close to matching the shade and the size of the hardwood.

    Therefore, we have concluded that it would be easier and more cost effective to simply overlay the existing hardwood and continue throughout the entire floor with a higher grade laminate. For those who claim this will devalue our home, I would suggest visual examination prior to such criticism. On the other hand, this article does confirm our plan is feasible. Thanks.

  • Susan Parrish

    My house was built in the late forties with hardwood floors. My late husband wanted to put laminated flooring in the hallway so I compromised and it was done, Part of the problem was the laminate floor came up a little bit too high for a doormat to fit behind the front door so after a few years the floor was damaged, We did have a doormat out the front and one inside but you had to have a reasonably long stride to reach the inside one. I also thought it looked a bit tacky as it was a pale colour unlike the polished floor I have in the kitchen. Anyway I have had the laminate removed and had the hallway floor polished and I am very happy with it! I am so glad I didn't compromise with him when he wanted to tile the kitchen floor .

  • Frans Odendaal

    I need help/advice for a very simular issue. But before I spark this same debate about why on earth laminate over real wood, let me explain in more detail. My house is old and the largest part of it has wooden flooring. Of which most of it is original oregon pine and a small part has been replaced with a cheaper (SA Pine). I love the wood, the floor, the skirtings, the wooden door frames, all of it. Bay windows, frames from wood. I sanded down and reworked my self. I was even prepared to take of the original skirtings, strip it from old paint (yes, layers and layers of old paint) and reworked it back to the wooden look. But the hard reality, after getting pro's and knowlegable friends advice, is that the wooden floor is past its life and I have to make terms with that. It has been sanded down to many times and the tung and groove is to thin and is breaking out at a number of places while in two corners the floor is sagging. (The floor is suspended) A new wooden floor costs a fortune. ripping out the floor and filling it with concrete, screte and level will be a massive exercise involving moving out for two weeks and extremely costly. My best option seems to be laminating over the wooden floor. Is this possible? I will ofcourse have to repair the structural integrity of the original floor as best I can. Tung and groove is difficult to remove to repair support beams below. Most of the floor still feels pretty steady though.

  • Linda Cates

    I would never recommend laminate flooring over hard wood flooring or any reason. I contacted of flooring company to get an estimate for hardwood flooring to replace carpet. I wanted hardwood flooring. At the time I was not educated at all about laminate flooring. The salesman convinced me that laminate would be so much better and why would I want to put hardwood down that would have to be refinished and create all this dust when it was done. So I took his advice. It was bad advice I hate the laminate flooring in my house I spent $10,000 having a laminate flooring put in three rooms and two hallways. It has now been 10 years it looks terrible it cannot be refinished like hardwood and my understanding is I could have had real would put down for A lot less money . Even if it cost me more at least I could've had the hardwood refinished all I can do with this stupid laminate that I hate is to have it taken up they glued it to the floor with glue so I am sure it will cost Waymore than I want to spend to have it removed and have what I wanted from the beginning, hardwood/real wood. Don't let anyone ever convince you that laminate is better than hardwood it is not sincerely D

  • dann ronda

    I'm also covering my hardwood floor, I am putting record albums down in my teenagers room and polyurethane over the top of it and I'm wondering if there is a way to protect the hardwood underneath before I do so? If not then I'll proceed anyway, I would just feel better knowing that I want destroying it completely

  • jrb451

    So, you're laying old album covers over hardwood flooring and then a thick coat of poly over that? Got a picture of what this looks like? I'm guessing that would be a big mess to get back to the original hardwood flooring if you ever wanted to do that.

  • Janet

    Does anyone who covered their old, worn hardwood floor with laminate want to give an update on how it turned out? Lots of comments from a year or so ago. My floors have been refinished over and over and still drafty from the crawl space. I am not moving my furniture and me out again until the smell is gone from a do over! So? How did it go?

  • jlmoulton95

    Yes, we are considering the same thing. The hardwood is only 17 years old, and it is an embarrassing mess with scratches, dings, nicks and worn in dirt. Please, does anyone who covered their old, worn hardwood floor with locking laminate want to give an update on how it turned out...how did it go?

  • jlmoulton95

    Well, we did it. We covered our 18 year old red oak hardwood [that was in need of sanding and refinishing] and covered it with Pergo Haley Oak Laminate... AND WE ARE BEYOND THRILLED!!! It looks much better than we even dreamed it would, it is gorgeous actually. It DOES NOT SOUND like a 'clickety-clack' plastic floor, the Pergo has a foam backing attached to it. It truly looks fantastic. Meanwhile, the expensive red oak is in safe keeping under the laminate. If or when we either sell or move, the floating Pergo laminate can be popped off and the new owners can deal with the dust and toxic smells of refinishing the floor if they so choose. It was a GREAT decision, glad we did it!!!

  • Janet
    Anyone use luxury vinyl plank over old, bad hardwood?
  • jlmoulton95

    Yes, our friends did, they used the floating, locking luxury vinyl. IT IS POSITIVELY GORGEOUS!!! 2 years old and no issues.

  • Janet
    Thank you!! Decision made :)
  • divecaribbean

    I second the suggestion for the waterhog mats. I'll post where we purchase them if I can find the link - you can get custom sizes, colors, styles, etc. LL BEAN sells them too but they are very pricey IMO. We use them around our dogs water bowls too since they are sloppy drinkers.

    In addition to our entry way, we also use them in the back of our SUV's in the cargo area since we travel with our Boxers. Keeps the truck nice and clean and absorbs liquids. After my dog had surgery he peed in the truck on the drive home from the vets office (post-anesthesia, if I remember correctly) and I was thankful for that waterhog mat. Not a drop of urine on my upholstery; the waterhog captured all of it, and it was easy enough to clean -- I sprayed it down with a hose and some cleaning solution, left it out to dry and no residual smell whatsoever. They're awesome mats.

  • divecaribbean

    Americanfloormats.com. You can get custom sized waterhog mats here.

  • jlmoulton95

    It has been almost a year since we covered our 18 year old red oak with Pergo Haley Oak Laminate, and guess what? WE ARE STILL THRILLED!!!! We have had babies and toddlers spilling, dragging and droping, adults pretty much doing the same.....and the floor still looks BRAND NEW! We did put Water Hog mats at the entrance to the outside, and a long Chef's mat under the sink and we wipe up spills right away. Smartest decision we ever made!!

  • Janet
    I covered my old, worn down hardwood floor with LVP in June 2018. Today, seeing my floor in the morning and throughout the day makes me smile. Hands down, the best decision I could have made. Beautiful, easy to care for, no moisture from the crawl space and SO comfortable to walk on. The new flooring is not as cold as the hardwood floor so the pets love it too.
  • PRO
    Woodpecker Flooring

    I would advise getting them checked personally by professionals to really give you sound advice on the matter before making any decision.

  • Janet
    I was advised by a professional and a top-ranked floor installer in my area did the install. I appreciate and support your advice.
  • Lily

    Janet, what brand of lvp did you go with? I’m considering the lvp for the entire house. We currently have tile, brick and carpet.

  • Janet
    I bought Armstrong LVP floating in Chateau Oak. Light gray with dark grout ceramic in kitchen and bath compliment perfectly. Cannot imagine the recent deep freeze with old hardwood. Good luck!
  • PRO
    Groysman Construction

    Hello. There's a good article about flooring.

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