How to Install Wood Flooring Over Particle Board


Normally, hardwood floors are laid over plywood underlayment, with nails or special staples shot through the boards with air pressure. But if your underlayment is particle board, it is not a good idea to nail down your wood floor because particle board does not grip the nails well enough to ensure a solid hold. The better option here is to glue down the floor. It is a messier job, takes more work to get the boards to lock tightly and requires more time. You will have to let the first part of the floor set in its glue before you can stand on it to install the rest.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • Prybar
  • Expansion spacers
  • Rubber gloves
  • Floor adhesive
  • Notched floor adhesive trowel
  • Engineered tongue-and-groove wood flooring
  • Tapping block
  • Miter saw
  • Table saw
  • Use your hammer and prybar to remove the floor trim in the room. Set it aside for later re-installation. Make sure the particle board surface of the floor is clean, dry and free of any gloss, nail heads or other obstructions. Set your expansion spacers against the bottom of the walls every few feet around the room.

  • Put on your rubber gloves. Starting at the wall furthest from the entryway, spread down flooring glue with your flooring trowel, covering the whole length of the floor and coming out about 2 feet from the wall. Set your first planks into place with the groove side pressing the expansion blocks and the tongue side facing out into the room. Snap the boards together end to end, cutting the last piece on your miter saw to fit.

  • Lay your second course by pressing the groove side of the new boards against the tongue side of the previously set boards. Set your tapping block on the tongue side of the new boards and gently tap the block with your hammer, locking the tongue-and-groove connection in place. Cut the end boards as needed on your miter saw.

  • Continue installing across the floor course by course, spreading out more glue as needed. Do not step on the boards after they are glued down or they may shift out of position. Stop when you are within about 5 feet from the opposite wall and you no longer have enough room to work. Let the glue set for 24 hours.

  • Once the glue is dry under the floorboards that you laid, install the final few courses. You should now be able to stand and kneel on the previously installed part of the floor to work. Cut the final course lengthwise on your table saw to fit. Remove all the expansion spacers at the walls. Let the final courses set for 24 hours. Re-install your floor trim to cover the gaps at the walls.

Tips & Warnings

  • Not all hardwood flooring is able to be glued down instead of nailed, depending on its design; check the instructions that come with the flooring to make sure gluing is an accepted installation method for that floor.
  • Wear eye protection when cutting your boards.
  • Ventilate the room when spreading the glue.

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