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Demus 01-17-2010 04:54 AM

Basic questions for hardwood or laminate install
I am looking to replace existing carpet/linoleum on my main floor with either hardwood or laminate. There are a few problems though, and I'm not quite sure what to do.

The existing linoleum is installed on top of a 5/16" (10mm) sub-floor, that I think is oriented strand board, or maybe particle board, which is installed over the 3/4" particle board sub-floor. The carpeted area however does not have the 5/16" sub-floor, and is installed right onto the 3/4" particle board sub-floor.

Removing the 5/16" sub-floor is going to be difficult at best. All of the kitchen cabinets are installed on top of it. My thinking at this point is to install 5/16" OSB in the carpeted areas, to bring the whole floor to the same level. Since the carpet is only in one completely open room this is a million times easier. Is there anything wrong with doing it this way? Only problem I can think of is loss of height in the dishwasher alcove. I think I have enough room, but will be sure to triple check before I buy anything.

My next issue is dealing with the expansion gap around the cabinets and fireplace. I can't get a very clear answer on exactly how much of a gap to leave around the cabinets. Some trades I have talked to, who have been installing hardwood floors for three decades, tell me that I can butt up tight against the cabinets with hardwood that is stapled, but not with floating floor installs. Other places say to leave 1/8" gap with stapled hardwood and 1/4" for floating floors. And a third source of information says to leave 3/4" for all hardwood, and 1/4" for laminate.

What the hell is it?

I would really like to avoid the use of quarter round wherever possible. And I think this will be the deciding factor in what type of material to use. In a worst case scenario I will install flat beading instead, but still would like to avoid that.

user1007 01-17-2010 06:52 AM

You have to level the floor but don't go with laminate unless it is the only option you can afford. I spec bamboo floors more and more and no complaints so far. 25 year structural guantee and five years on the surface.

You can nail or float the stuff. It comes in a rainbow of colors from a bleached white to dark ebony. Just get it from a reall supplier, not a box store. They only sell crap.

Daniel Holzman 01-17-2010 09:04 AM

Check out this site for good links and good information

I have inspected a dozen or so hardwood floors that have failed due to lack of proper expansion gap around the edge. Hardwood can expand up to 1 percent due almost entirely to humidity changes. If you have a 20 foot wide floor, this amount to about 2-1/2 inches, meaning you would need a gap of about 1-1/4 inches on either side to accommodate the movement.

Hardwood moves almost entirely perpendicular to the grain, so you need only a small gap in the long direction. Also, the one percent refers to the maximum change in size, so if you live in an air conditioned house and the humidity is relatively constant, you can get away with a smaller gap. However, if the power fails for an extended period (as in a hurricane situation), the humidity is likely to rise substantially, and the floor can buckle in just a few days. I have the pictures to prove it.

just tile 01-17-2010 06:38 PM

i would go ahead and build your floor up like you said and use a floating hard wood.use quarter round at your cabinets and base boards elswhere. dishwasher may be an issue though.good luck.

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