How To

No matter which type of flooring you’ve invested in, it’s going to need to be installed on top of an even, stable subfloor in order to maximise its longevity.

Written by: Yarl Christie

Published on: February 01, 2021

How to Prepare a Subfloor for New Flooring

Before installing your new floor, it’s crucial to ensure the subfloor is well prepared. No matter which type of flooring you’ve invested in, it’s going to need to be installed on top of an even, stable subfloor in order to maximise its longevity.

A concrete floor needing to be prepared for a new flooring to be installed over it

Here, you’ll discover how to prepare a subfloor ready for your new flooring. Whether you’re fitting real wood, laminate or vinyl flooring, you’ll find the appropriate subfloor preparation tips below.

Preparing a Subfloor for Hardwood Flooring

When fitting wood flooring such as an engineered wood or solid wood floor it is important to ensure the subfloor is moisture free. After removing your old floor, you’ll typically be left with either a plywood or a concrete subfloor. It’s vital the subfloor is prepared accordingly if you want your hardwood floor to last.

Firstly, you’ll need to give it a good clean. Make sure there’s no dirt, debris or spilled paint on the floor. Then, it’s time to make sure the subfloor is even. If part of the subfloor is higher than the rest, sand it down. If there’s any holes or dips, fill them in. Make sure any compound you use on the subfloor is fully dry before moving to the next step.

Preparing a subfloor using a compound

If you’re working with a plywood base, ensure none of the boards are squeaky or loose. Ideally, the plywood should be fairly thick as this will add to the stability of your new wooden floor.

You’re also going to want to check the moisture levels. If there is any moisture in the subfloor, it’s going to cause issues with warping and swelling in your floor over time. This can lead to irreversible damage which will be costly to replace. If there is high moisture, consider investing in a moisture-resistant underlay to help protect your new floor.

Preparing a Subfloor for SPC

SPC flooring can be fitted over a variety of subfloor materials. However, as with other flooring types, you should check for excessive moisture prior to installation. Although they do feature a waterproof design, this tends to only apply to the surface and joints of the floors, rather the bottom of them. If there is an issue with moisture, you can use a moisture barrier underlay for added protection.

You will also want to make sure the subfloor is clean, and free from any debris left behind from the previous flooring.

Preparing a Subfloor for Laminate Flooring

When it comes to laminate flooring, there are certain types of subfloors which aren’t suitable to use. These include cushioned flooring, carpets and glued vinyl. Ideally, you’ll want to work with a concrete, plywood, ceramic or vinyl subfloors which hasn’t been glued down.

Brushing a subfloor for installing SPC over it

The preparation process for installing laminate is pretty much the same as it is for hardwood subfloors. It needs to be cleaned and levelled off to ensure it’s going to provide a stable base. Moisture should also be kept to a minimum, ideally with a less than 12% moisture reading.

Preparing a Subfloor for LVT Vinyl Flooring

Luxury vinyl flooring is known to be extremely durable. However, that doesn’t mean you can get away with a poor-quality subfloor. Even vinyl floors can become damaged over time when exposed to moisture. So, you’ll still need to check the moisture levels of the subfloor prior to installation.

You’ll also need to clean and level out the floor if required before fitting the vinyl. As an additional side note, if you’re installing floating vinyl, you’ll need to add a vapor barrier if you’re using a concrete subfloor.

Installing plywood for laying LVT over it

If you are installing the vinyl on a plywood subfloor, you’ll usually need to add an extra layer of wood to ensure it’s thick enough. Vinyl is a lot thinner than laminate or hardwood flooring, so you need to ensure the subfloor is thick enough to add plenty of stability.

Preparing a Subfloor for Carpet Tiles

Carpet tiles can be fitted over any hard subfloor such as vinyl, tile, laminate, or hardwood flooring. You should avoid fitting them over an existing carpet, as it won’t be stable enough to support the new one.

Subfloor preparation for installing carpet tiles
If you are installing carpet over a concrete subfloor, ensure it is even using a self-levelling compound if required. Like when installing other flooring types, you should ensure the subfloor is clean and dry prior to fitting carpet tiles.


As you can see, no matter which type of flooring you’ve invested in, the preparations for the subfloor are pretty much the same. Ensuring it’s clean, level and dry enough is the key to ensuring your new floor really lasts the test of time. You’ll find many new floors come with instructions on how to prepare the subfloor to match the new floor’s requirements. Always follow these as closely as you can to ensure best results.

Further Browsing

Browse our hardwood flooring available to buy online here
Browse our SPC flooring available to buy online here
Browse our laminate flooring available to buy online here
Browse our LVT flooring available to buy online here
Browse our engineered wood flooring available to buy online here

About The Author

Yarl Christie

Yarl is the Managing Director of Stories Flooring. started his career in the flooring industry by becoming a floor fitter at the age of 18 (2004). Yarl finally decided to move with the times and set up an online flooring store (Flooring Yorkshire, 2018). He works closely with the business managers and resource team to source new products from wholesalers, which in turn brings down the sale price. This enables Stories Flooring to be one of the leading UK flooring retailers.