When Can I Install a New Floor Over an Old Floor?

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 10:00 AM

If you are considering a new floor for your home or business, a question that is often asked is can I install my new floor over my existing floor? The answer is... it depends.

It depends on the type of flooring you've chosen and on your existing floor. Let's explore the options.

Which Floor Types Can You Install Over Existing Flooring?

The following are flooring types that may be able to be installed over your existing flooring.

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It's always best to check with the flooring manufacturer for specifics they recommend when you plan to install over existing flooring.

Carpet

Carpet that is installed with tack strips around the perimeter of the room and stretched in can generally go over many different existing flooring types such as:

  • Vinyl Tile 
  • Asbestos Tile
  • Strip or Plank Hardwood Flooring
  • Sheet Vinyl or Linoleum
  • Ceramic Tile
  • Glued Down Commercial Carpet

Because carpet is usually installed with a minimum 3/8" cushion, many existing floor imperfections are hidden.

Don't Install Carpet Over a Floating Floor!

One type of flooring that you can not install carpet over is an existing "floating floor." A floating floor is a floor covering that is not adhered to by glue or any fasteners.

>> See What is a Floating Floor?

All floating floors must be removed prior to the carpet being installed.

Don't Install Carpet Over a Floating Floor!

Floating Floors

A "floating floor" is actually not a type of floor, though for years the term was associated with laminate floors. A floating floor is an installation method.

A floating floor does not get secured in any way to either the existing floor or a subfloor it is being installed over. Today, most floating floors have a locking system that attaches each plank or tile to each other.

Below is a list of the most common flooring types available with floating floors:

  • Engineered Hardwood
  • Luxury Vinyl Plank and Tile 
  • Cork
  • Bamboo
  • Linoleum Planks and Tile
  • Porcelain Tile (New)

Most flooring installed with the floating method can be installed over your existing flooring if it meets the following criteria:

  • The existing flooring is securely fastened to the subfloor.
  • The subfloor is in suitable shape.
  • Raising the floor height will not cause a tripping hazard in doorways to and from other rooms.
  • Entry doors will still be able to open freely.
  • You have enough room between the top of the refrigerator and the cabinet.

Ultimately your installer is responsible for determining if a new floor can be installed over the existing floor. For this reason, it's always best to be sure your installer is a trained flooring professional and not a handyman or remodeler who doesn't do floors full-time.

A floating floor is an installation method.

Glued Down Flooring

A glued-down floor is only as good as the floor it is being adhered to. For that reason, it is important to be sure the existing floor is smooth and tightly secured to the subfloor. Any imperfections in the existing floor need to be addressed prior to the installation of your new floor, otherwise, the imperfections will telegraph through your new floor.

>> See How to Plan for a Successful Flooring Installation

In most cases, you can glue your new floor to one layer of an existing vinyl floor that is in good shape and is installed over a suitable subfloor.

When Not to Install Glued Down Flooring

You cannot glue your new floor over existing strip or plank hardwood floors because hardwood flooring will expand and contract during seasonal changes. In this case, you will either have to remove the existing hardwood flooring or install a minimum 1/4" approved subfloor on top.

If you have two layers of vinyl flooring, most manufacturers will not warranty your new floor unless one layer is removed or a 1/4" subfloor is installed assuming adding the additional height is not an issue.

Beautiful wood floors

Hardwood over Existing Hardwood

If you are considering new hardwood flooring and would like to install it over your existing hardwood floors, there are two options.

  • You can install a hardwood floor that has a locking system allowing it to "float" over your existing hardwood floor.
  • The second option is to install your new flooring either diagonally or perpendicular to your existing flooring.

Again be aware of any red flags that may cause issues such as height or nonpleasing aesthetics.

READY TO Pick a New Floor to Install over an old Floor? Visit Floor Decor Design Center in CT

READY TO Pick a New Floor to Install over an old Floor?

Ultimately, it's critical to always check the manufacturer’s recommendations on your new flooring and look for red flags that may cause an issue. 

We invite you to visit one of our two showroom locations in Middletown or Orange, where you can explore different flooring options and confirm what's right for your installation. 

Feel free to let us know of any questions in the comments or contact us.

We look forward to helping you.

Thanks for reading,

Janine & Michael

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Note: We originally published this page on 03/04/2020, and have updated it.

Michael Phoenix, Floor Decor Design Center

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