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Can you install hardwood flooring over concrete?

Hardwood flooring over concrete - Westchester County NYYes you sure can…provided there is not a moisture issue.  (You should never install hardwood when there is a moisture issue regardless of the subfloor).  I do get a lot of customers asking me about hardwood flooring over concrete, and there does seem to be a lot of confusion, so I hope this helps clarify.

 

If you live in a condo or co-op building in Westchester, you may have a concrete subfloor rather than a plywood subfloor.  Many customers think that this limits their choice of flooring and that they are restricted to laminate flooring (i.e. fake hardwood) or carpet.  While laminate flooring will work in these conditions, so will engineered hardwood, so you may want to consider both options based on your preference and budget.

Please note that this article may contain affiliate links.  You can read my full disclousre at the bottom of the page.

As background, there are 3 ways to install hardwood floors (from best to worst):

Hardwood flooring installed over concrete Westchester New YorkNail downrequires plywood sub-flloor (you can’t nail into concrete…last I checked)

2.  Glue downengineered hardwoods can be glued (note: solid hardwood can not be glued (except for bamboo))

3.  Floatthis is when the hardwood is clicked into each other (or glued at joints) but is not attached to the floor.  The floor is secured via the base molding around the edges.  Both laminate and engineered hardwood floors can be floated.

 

So, if you have a plywood sub-floor, the world is your oysterYou can choose any type of flooring (solid or engineered) and any type of method (but I would suggest nailing since it’s the most secure).

 

If you have a concrete -, then you have choices to make 

Hardwood flooring - floating floors over concrete - Westchester NY1.  You can install either an engineered hardwood floor (this is real hardwood done in layers) or a laminate floor (this is fake floor that looks like hardwood) on top of cement.  Laminate will cost less; engineered hardwood will improve the value of your home.

 

2.  If you really want to install a solid hardwood floor, it will cost extra as first you will need to install a 3/4″ plywood subfloor.  Adding this extra layer will definitely cost you more and add some height.  Sometimes, the additional height is not an issue at all.  But, if you have low ceilings, you may feel a bit more closed in, and more importantly, you may have issues with your doors.  If you have solid wood doors, these can usually be shaved; if you have a metal door, you are definitely limited.  You also need to consider the height differences vs. the rest of th flooring in your home.  Sometimes the height difference is insignificant and other times, it can be a bit of a mess.  Usually it’s easy to put in transitions pieces between levels, but some people just don’t like height differences across rooms.  (Others, couldn’t care less).

 

It’s often best to have a hardwood expert come to your house and provide advice and options for what works best in your home.  There are many factors that go into this decision and there is no “one size fits all” solution.  I like to see what type of sub-floor there is (cement vs. plywood) and whether the sub-floor is even and I like to look at decor/style.  Budget is often a consideration as well, and I’m happy to provide multiple options to my customers, so they can select the best option for their needs and their budget.  I love giving advice on hardwood floors…many customers don’t realize how much they don’t know and they can’t get this same sort of service in a store…you have to visit the home to give the best advice.

 

Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors

  • Bona hardwood floor cleaner
  • Felt pads to protect floors
  • Office chair mat
  • Doggie Socks

    Where can you buy engineered hardwood online?

    Gray hardwood floors - prefinished Shaw Castlewood engineered woodIf you’re looking for some engineered hardwood flooring that you can buy online, I’d check out FlooringInc.com. They are very affordable and shipping is free.  Here’s a link to their engineered flooring section.  In particular, I like Shaw Castlewood’s line for a wide plank, contemporary white wash and gray looks. It’s a rustic line that looks chic with a wire brushed effect. Warning: the picture this link will take you to on their site is not the most attractive picture…scan through the other colors below to see the breadth of this line.  The picture here is Shaw Castlewood in Hearth.

    Can you install hardwood flooring on top of concrete?  Westchester County NY

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13 thoughts on “Can you install hardwood flooring over concrete?”

  1. we want to put carpet over laminate. why can we not nail with brad nailer and change floor to solid before carpeting removing the existing floor is not an option.

    1. Joanna – I’m not sure I understand you question. You can put carpet on top of laminate. However, the installation will be MUCH more secure if you remove the laminate since the floor won’t move.

      I supposed if you wanted to, you could try nailing the laminate to the floor below…but this might cause some other issues…as your floor may buckle.

      If you have laminate and can’t remove it, a better solution would be to do an area rug…even if it just went to the edges of the floor.

  2. Thanks for the explanation, I think I’m one of those people who asked you about this awhile ago.

    I still haven’t made a decision what to put in my home that’s on slab. I really wanted to do hardwood, I just can’t seem to pull the trigger on engineered.

    Have you written a post on the environmental advantages of engineered over hardwood. Is there an advantage? besides the obvious fact that you don’t need to chop down tree are there other advantages? Or does the processing of the wood product to make engineered wood cancel out the ‘green’ advantages?

    1. Rich – Yes, there are some green aspects to the engineered flooring as there is less wastes. Those with good finishes can last a long time, too. Give me a call sometime, so we can discuss your particular circumstances to see if engineered or solid makes more sense. There are lots of considerations, including heights of doors, appliances, cabinets, humidity and condition of subfloor.

  3. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day.
    It’s always useful to read articles from other writers and use something from their
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  4. I had to replace the dishwasher in the kitchen. I could not remove the old one until I removed the nearly 2 inches of wood sub flooring which is over concrete. The kitchen cabinets were installed first over concrete. The previous owner, I guess then installed a wood sub floor in kitchen. I have to cut a 2′ x 2′ hole in the floor to get the old dishwasher out and the new one in. When I was tearing out this wood sub floor in the kitchen I noticed that it was very dark and looked mildewed. I want to tear out the whole floor because I don’t know how much of it is rotten or mildew and install ceramic tile directly over the concrete. What do you suggest?

    1. In general, I’d rather take a safe than sorry approach. It sounds like there may have been some water damage there and yes it’s possible you have mold. It’s safer to remove. You may find that as you do it, it is just in one area, but you won’t know until after you start ripping it up.

      In terms of tile vs. wood, part of that depends on height, but in your case, if you have concrete subfloor and it looks like the height will work, you may want to try tile. Please note that you may need to level the floor (use self leveling mix to do this).

      I hope that helps.

  5. I agree that height issue can be an issue. However, in my opinion, less than an inch doesn’t really matter. The height difference would be minimal in comparison to how the floor could look. Hopefully, my project will turn out great and look beautiful.

    1. William – No, you CAN NOT install hardwood on top of a laminate floor. Laminate floors are floating and they expand and contract based on temperature and humidity. You need a strong base for the hardwood…or any type of flooring for that matter. So, you would want to remove the laminate flooring first, and then install the hardwood.

  6. I live in condo on the second floor.
    we have plywood base and soundproof concrete material on top. Pre finish hardwood floor was installed on top. The floor is not even, there are humps. What can we do ?

    1. Garo – If the floor is already installed, there is very little you can do. Maybe put area rugs and furniture in areas to camouflage. If the flooring hadn’t been installed, you would want to level the floor first. Easiest way to do this is self leveling mix, but it’s not cheap. alternatively, you could smooth out with cheaper concrete (but it probably wouldn’t be completely flat or potentially add in wood sleepers…if there is wood to install that into. At this point, if floor is installed, only way to actually fix is to rip up the floor and start again.

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