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Can You Lay New Flooring Over Old?

Installing new flooring over old flooring is an attractive option for many homeowners. This approach can save time, effort, and even money. However, while it may seem convenient, laying new flooring over old can lead to several potential issues and complications. Here’s what you need to consider before deciding to layer floors.

Why Install New Flooring Over Old?

The primary reasons someone might want to install new flooring over old include:

  • Cost Efficiency: Removing old flooring can be labour-intensive and costly. By installing over it, you can reduce both labour and disposal costs.
  • Time Savings: Skipping the removal process speeds up the installation of the new flooring.
  • Convenience: Avoiding the mess and hassle of tearing up old flooring can make the renovation process smoother and cleaner.

Potential Issues When Installing Over Old Flooring

Uneven Surfaces

Old flooring, especially if it has been damaged or worn down unevenly, can lead to an uneven surface for the new flooring. This can cause problems such as cracking, creaking, and instability in the new floor.

Door Clearance

Adding an extra layer of flooring can raise the floor level, potentially leading to issues with door clearance. Doors may need to be trimmed or adjusted to accommodate the new floor height.

Moisture and Damage

If the old flooring has any undetected moisture issues or damage, covering it with new flooring can exacerbate these problems, leading to mould, mildew, or further structural damage.

Specific Considerations for Different Flooring Types

Carpet Over Old Flooring

Can Be Laid Over:

  • Hardwood: Carpet can generally be installed over hardwood without much issue, provided the wood is in good condition and thoroughly cleaned.
  • Tile: As long as the surface is even and all tiles are secure, carpet can be installed over tile. Use a thick underlay to smooth out grout lines and unevenness.

Should Not Be Laid Over:

  • Carpet: Installing new carpet over old carpet is not recommended as it can lead to uneven surfaces and reduced longevity of the new carpet.
  • Laminate: Carpet should not be installed directly over laminate because the surface can be too slick, and laminate’s floating installation can compromise carpet stability.

Vinyl Flooring Over Old Flooring

Can Be Laid Over:

  • Tile: Vinyl can be installed over tile, provided the tile is even and well-adhered to the subfloor.
  • Hardwood: This is feasible if the hardwood is in stable condition without significant warping or damage.

Should Not Be Laid Over:

  • Carpet: Vinyl should not be installed over carpet as the soft base can cause the vinyl to buckle and shift.
  • Floating Floors: Installing vinyl over floating floors like laminate is generally advised against due to potential movement and instability.

Laminate Flooring Over Old Flooring

Can Be Laid Over:

  • Tile: Laminate can be installed over tile if the surface is flat and all tiles are intact.
  • Vinyl: It’s possible to lay laminate over vinyl if the vinyl is level and in good condition.

Should Not Be Laid Over:

  • Carpet: Laminate should not be installed over carpet because the carpet’s cushion can prevent the laminate from locking properly, leading to movement and separation.
  • Floating Floors: Similar to vinyl, laying laminate over other floating floors can lead to issues with stability and locking mechanisms.

Successful Combinations and Final Recommendations

While you can successfully install certain types of flooring over old surfaces, doing so often comes with risks like uneven surfaces, potential moisture issues, and door clearance problems. The most successful combinations typically involve installing harder surfaces like vinyl and laminate over stable, hard surfaces such as tile or old hardwood.

Despite the potential for time and cost savings, the recommended approach for flooring installation is to remove old flooring first. This allows for inspection and repair of the subfloor, ensuring a level base and reducing the risk of future problems. Choosing a professional for installation is also advisable to ensure the best results and long-term satisfaction with your new flooring.

Last Updated: 12/04/2024

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