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There are many stages and processes of hardwood floor installation, including installing or repairing a large structure beneath the finished floor, known as the subfloor. But, what is a subfloor, exactly? If you’ve ever visited a home with an unfinished basement, you have probably seen one without even realizing it. The subfloor is the foundational piece that keeps your flooring strong, sturdy, and intact – think of it as the backbone of your floor. 

We get clients asking some basic questions about subflooring, so we wanted to take the opportunity to explain what installing subflooring entails and the most commonly used materials for subflooring by hardwood flooring teams. 

Subfloor Preparation

The subfloor is the foundational piece of structure found beneath finished flooring materials. Commonly seen on their own in basements, subfloors can range from standalone concrete slabs to wooden structures placed over floor joists. Unlike an underlayment, a subfloor is a structural layer that the rest of the flooring depends upon. 

A thorough preparation process is essential for the installation of a subfloor. First, installers need to make sure the subfloor is viable and solid; once approved, it needs to be flattened and evenly leveled out – having a level subfloor is critical to the success of the installation. Simultaneously, installers need to be aware of moisture levels in the air if they’re installing a concrete subfloor. Once this is completed, they can move on with the next step in the flooring installation process. 

What is a Subfloor? – Plywood Subflooring

Plywood has been a favored subfloor material since the 1950s; this is due to its tongue-and-groove edges that interlock and withstand intense movement. Its stiff nature makes it a top choice for carpet, linoleum, or vinyl flooring. Plywood installation requires the subfloor to be glued and screwed to the floor joists. 

What is a Subfloor?  – Wood Plank Subflooring

Subflooring made out of wood planks is a more traditional installation form. Many homes built during the 20th century consist of wood plank subfloors, but it has fallen out of style since the introduction of plywood. Wood planks are typically made out of pine, fir, and other kinds of softwood – the subflooring is nailed to wood joists and covered with particleboard or a hardboard underlayment. 

Learn About the Amazing (and Clean) Process of Dustless Floor Refinishing!

What is a Subfloor? – Concrete Subflooring

Concrete slab subflooring is rarely seen in living spaces with heavy foot traffic. You’re more likely to see it in a basement due to its durable and smooth surface. It’s not ideal for living areas due to its risk of capturing too much moisture and its absorption of cold temperatures. Thus, most people include a moisture barrier or a certain kind of underlayment over the top of the concrete. 

Hardwood Floor Installation

While subflooring is certainly not the most interesting or beautiful piece of hardwood flooring projects, it’s a necessity. At JJ.Hardwood, we pride ourselves on being one of the best installation crews for custom wood floors

We provide reference-level hardwood flooring service; whether it’s hardwood floor sanding, wood floor staining, or other floor restoration services, our experienced team members are ready to help you with all your flooring needs.

 Contact us today to learn more!