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Installing plywood underlayment

The correct underlayment will make your new flooring stay flat and resist water for many years. But it needs to be installed properly. First prepare the existing floor so that it provides a solid base. Then select an underlayment thickness that will make the new floor match the height of floors in adjoining rooms. Cut the panels to size, and place them on the floor so the joints are staggered. Then attach the panels with screws driven through the underlayment and subfloor, and into the floor joists.

 

Step 1. To cut plywood underlayment, place the panel on scrap boards; mark the length on both edges; and snap a chalk line between the two marks. Make the cut using a circular saw. Be sure to set the blade depth so the saw cuts through the panel but doesnít hit the floor.

 

Step 2. Start the second course of underlayment with a sheet thatís shorter than the first, so the joints in the underlayment will be staggered. Maintain a uniform 1/8 in- expansion joint between sheets and along the room walls.

 

Step 3. Underlayment panels should be attached to the floor joists, not just the flooring. Lay out where the joists fall, and snap chalk lines above each. Drive screws that are long enough to reach through all the layers of the flooring and at least 1 in. into the joists.

 

 

TYPES OF UNDERLAYMENT

Underlayment-grade plywood made from fir or pine is available in 4 x 8-foot sheets in thicknesses of 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, 5/8 and 3/4 inch. Because it can expand when damp, ply wood is not as good a choice for ceramic tiles as cement board.

Lauan plywood, a species of mahogany, is often used under resilient flooring. It is available in 4 x 8-foot sheets. The usual thickness for underlayment is 1/4 inch.

Cement board s also called tile backer board. It is made ofa sand-and-cement matrix reinforced with fiber glass mesh. It is usually available in 3 x 5-foot sheets in a thickness of 1/2 inch. This is the preferred base for ceramic tile and stone floors in wet areas.

If the old flooring is not in good condition, remove it and smooth down the old underlayment before installing the new floor covering. If you canít remove the old floor covering, just apply the new underlayment over it.
 

UNDERLAYMENT OPTIONS

Floor Covering   Acceptable Underlaymennts

Resilient floor coverings   Old vinyl or linoleum flooring in sound condition
Underlayment-grade plywood
Lauan plywood

Wood parquet flooring   Old vinyl or linoleum floor in sound condition
Underlayment-grade plywood
Lauan plywood
Hardboard

Laminate flooring   Any sound surface

Solid-wood flooring   Underlayment-grade plywood

Ceramic tile and stone   Old ceramic tiles, if sound
Concrete slab
Cement board
Underlayment-grade plywood

 

 

 

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