How to Lay a New Subfloor

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“Whatever you do, don’t try ripping up that old flooring,” warned the guy at the flooring store, after it was already too late. Now you are going to have to lay a sub-floor. While it may sound like a daunting job, it’s really quite easy.

Things You'll Need

  • 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch plywood
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Ruler
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Remove the old baseboards. (After installing your new sub-floor, you'll need to reattach them by connecting them to the wall over the top of your floor. That way the floor can expand and contract without damaging the walls.)

  • Measure the dimensions of your room, taking into account any cubbies that will effect your sub floor. Leave an 1/8-inch gap for expansion at the edge of each wall as you measure, and draw the dimensions on paper as you go. It will help to use a ruler to create your diagram to scale.

  • Figure out which direction to lay the floor utilizing the least number of 4-foot by 8-foot plywood sheets. Use your diagram to do this.

  • Lay 1 large piece of plywood on the old floor in a corner, placing the bad side down. Make sure to leave an 1/8-inch gap at the walls for expansion.

  • Nail the piece down using 1½-inch to 2-inch nails. Don’t be stingy. Nails are cheap. Use a lot of them to insure a quiet floor after it is finished.

  • Measure for another piece and make any required cuts, using either a circular saw or a jigsaw.

  • Lay the next piece snugly against the last piece. Make sure that in so doing that you keep a 1/8-inch gap at the wall. Proceed with other pieces until you have gone wall-to-wall in one direction. You are now ready for your next row.

  • Start the next row. Use a piece of plywood roughly half the length of the first piece, so that when you lay the new row, the seams will jog, much like a bricklayer lays bricks. This allows for a stronger link between the pieces of the sub-floor.

  • Continue in this manner until the entire area in question is fully covered. When you have finished, your new sub-floor will be complete. You are ready to lay your new floor.

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