Installing hardwood directly over laminate

Q: Please help. We hired a team to lay hardwood flooring down after they removed the laminate currently in place. Today we were told the laminate had been glued down and therefore it would be very difficult and expensive to remove it. They suggest (and say it will be okay) to lay the hardwood directly over the laminate. What do you think?

Also, the same folks say there is no need to remove baseboards as shoe molding is easier and cheaper to do. I think that looks tacky. Your take?

A: This laminate as you call it, is it hard surfaced like a counter top? Or is this an all wood product like engineered floors? If it is the first case, no I would not install over it. Even if the cleats or staples penetrate that surface and not bend the core itself is basically a glorified version of particle board. It doesn’t hold fasteners well at all. If it is an all wood product with say a hardwood top layer built on what looks like plywood, then sure it will be fine provided it is nice and solid.

As to the baseboards this can be a matter of taste. It used to be standard to have baseboard and quarter round. In more recent times some have decided they don’t like the look of quarter round and instead use what is essentially a door stop or in other cases nothing at all except the baseboard. If you don’t want the trim then they will likely have to pull off the base and install it again after.

Similar Q: My wife and I are planning on getting our house done in hardwood floors. Currently we have carpet over particle board over plywood throughout the house. One contractor told us that the hardwood manufacturers would not honor the warranty if placed on top of particle board due to swelling if it gets wet. So now we are looking at tearing out all of the particle board first. My question is do we need to build the floor back up with more plywood or is it okay to lay the hardwoods directly on top of the very bottom layer of plywood? We are on a crawl space foundation.

A: Definitely a no to installing on particle board or chip board. You should have at least 3/4 spruce plywood. Make sure the crawl space is dry and ventilated.

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