After 5 years of living with engineered hardwood we FINALLY made the big decision to cover it up with luxury vinyl plank. There were of course lots and lots of questions on how it was possible for us to install directly over our hardwood floors, why we were replacing them, and specifics on the install process. So here are your questions, answered!
The first question I got when embarking on this crazy project was, WHY!? There’s a slew of reasons, but biggest reason was how fragile and high maintenance engineered hardwood is. It took constant cleaning, attention to every dropped ice cube, quickly mopping wet feet coming in from the hot tub,. Not to mention the scratches EVERYWHERE from dog paws and kids dropping toys. I would clean them, and within a few hours they looked filthy. For our family of 3 kids and 3 dogs, engineered hardwood floors just weren’t practical.
What are the different flooring options?
There are 5 main types of flooring.
Tile – permanent flooring, laid with thinnest and grouted into place. Tile is waterproof, but has its own “look.” Removal is extremely labor intensive.
Hardwood – real hardwood also considered natural, permanent flooring. It is usually nailed or glued in place. It is also not waterproof and depending on the species and finish it will show scratches, dings, and dent. It can be sanded and refinished, but the install and refinishing make this your most expensive option.
Engineered Hardwood – has a thin top layer of real wood, followed by several layers of plywood. It can be refinished 1-4x depending on the brand. Because only the top layer is real wood, they are able to cut a lot of the costs down making this an affordable alternative to real hardwood. It can be installed a variety of ways: floating, glued, or nailed down.
Laminate – is a synthetic flooring. Manufactured to look like wood, inexpensive, newer lines are water resistant, but not waterproof. It is durable against scratches, and it is similar in thickness to engineered hardwood or hardwood around 1/2″ thick.
Luxury Vinyl Plank – 100% synthetic floors which are made to look like hardwood, tile, or other flooring. The main difference between luxury vinyl and laminate is luxury vinyl is typically 1/2 the thickness, and it is 100% waterproof making it a great option for wet spaces like bathrooms and kitchens.
Remove existing floor or lay on top?
Disclaimer: Each brand of flooring will have specific instructions on whether or not it is possible to layer your flooring. Not all are created equal. We used Audacity Flooring’s luxury vinyl in the color sandpoint which is one of the lines that allows you to layer over an existing, permanent floor. Our engineered hardwood is nailed into place making it a permanent floor, and not a floating floor.
What you need to assess first:
1- Transitions into other rooms with different flooring. Will layering LVP on top make your transitions too high?
2- Door clearance. Especially doors that lead outside. It is possible to trim down your doors with a saw, but know that going into the project you’re adding a lot of extra work.
3- Is your existing floor permanent? Is it glued or nailed into place? check by pulling up a vent, baseboard and attempt to remove a piece will show you how it’s installed. Have tile? You may be able to install over tile if the above aren’t affected.
Install over concrete? YES! You will need an additional moisture barrier.
*DO NOT LAYER A FLOATING FLOOR OVER ANOTHER FLOATING FLOOR!
If this flooring is intended to be installed over an existing wooden floor, it is recommended to repair any loose boards or squeaks before you begin the installation.
Nail or screw every 6” / 15 cm along joints to avoid squeaking.
First off, this is completely unnecessary. Removal of a floating floor is very quick once you get the first piece up. Second, it will lead to buckling and separation down the line.
What do you look for when picking out a high quality luxury vinyl flooring?
Despite popular belief, high price tag doesn’t always equate to high quality and not all luxury vinyl is created equal.
Second, I would look at large samples to look at the varying grain pattern and look for the most natural planks that blend.
Third, check if the company makes transition pieces (reducers, T thresholds, stair treads) or if there are matching transition pieces you can purchase from a nearby flooring store or online retailer.
How do you stagger flooring correctly so it flows naturally?
There are 2 main ways to lay plank flooring, one is to have a pattern 1/3, 1/2, full and continue the pattern. This typically makes for a quicker install. The 2nd option is to lay your row ensuring your end piece and starting piece are 12″ or longer. When you get the end of a row, the excess from your last piece becomes the starting piece for the new row. I find this pattern to be more organic.
Tools Needed for Install:
Table Saw *Optional
Miter Saw *Optional
Luxury Vinyl Cutter *optional
The general rule of thumb is to start in the upper left corner of your room. If running boards across multiple rooms start in one room that requires the least amount of backfilling.
Do not level off your your walls, odds are they are crooked.
Be sure to use spacers between the wall and your first row to get that first row very straight.
Leave 1/4″ gap from the walls and the ends of your boards. Your baseboards and trim should cover this expansion gap.
Make sure each and every piece is clicked and locked into place before moving onto the next piece.
Sand down any high points in your subfloor that will cause your floating floor to not click in correctly.
Fill any missing holes in your subfloor/level your subfloor with plywood or self leveling cement.