How Often Should Flooring Be Replaced – Expert advice from Bob Vila, the most trusted name in home improvement, home remodeling, home repair, and DIY. Requested, Real, reliable Town Council
It’s hard to know everything that goes on under your floors. Beneath the hardwood, laminate, tile, or carpet lies the subfloor, and it’s a component that only gets attention during a full-scale renovation or full-blown problem. Even some of the telltale signs are easy to ignore. By the time the issue becomes apparent, it may be too late for your subfloor.
How Often Should Flooring Be Replaced
A sub-floor is the structural covering that spans the floor joists. It is almost always completely hidden under some type of finished floor material. Depending on when a house was built, a sub-floor could be made from softwood boards such as pine or fir, plywood, or OSB (oriented strand board). OSB is a composite of glue and strips of scrap wood, in sheets 4 feet wide and 8 or 12 feet long. OSB is quick to install and cheaper than real wood or plywood, making it the go-to material for modern sub-flooring.
Warped Wooden Flooring: How To Fix & Prevent It
Subflooring can last a very long time. Under normal conditions, a subfloor can last as long as the house itself. However, if a sub-floor is damaged or defective, it may only last 20 to 30 years. If this is the case, a homeowner may have to peel back the floor layers and get to work. Here are five signs that it’s time to replace your subfloor.
It is not uncommon for floors to have a slight squeak. Often, it is so typical that it goes completely unnoticed. If your floor is starting to sound like the Tin Man without his oil, however, some attention may be needed. Squeaking occurs when the wood in your subfloor rubs against a nail. Under ideal circumstances, the nails hold the subfloor firmly to the joists, avoiding any squeaking issues. If that sub-floor starts to warp or twist (especially common in softwood sub-floors), the nails will start to work themselves loose from the joists and those squeaks will start to speak up.
Sub-floor problems become much more apparent when walking through the living room feels more like walking through rolling hills. If a floor starts to sink between floor joists, it is a sure sign that there is a problem. This is commonly caused due to moisture issues in the deterioration of the wood, but it can also be caused by improper installation. When sub-flooring is installed, any end-to-end joints between boards or sheets are designed together on top of floor joists. If that joint is only an inch off, over time foot traffic will cause it to sink.
There aren’t many things in a home more beautiful than a well-maintained, well-polished hardwood floor. Even a small area of cupped floorboards can turn out to look brand new. Cupping occurs when hardwood floorboards begin to curl along the length of the board, somewhat like a taco shell but less obvious. It is often caused by humidity. The subfloor is probably not the cause of the moisture issue but if the hardwood floor above is cupping, it’s a safe bet that the subfloor is suffering as well.
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Cracking and popping tiles are a sure sign that something is not right. A properly affixed tile should go in and out of style a few times before it works loose. If thinset has dried on the back of the loose tile and is covering it completely with no signs of trowel marks, you will know this is a subfloor problem. Although the moisture can be suspicious, it is also common to find that the wrong material was used for the subfloor. Cement board (a sheet of lightweight concrete and fiberglass mesh) should be laid on top of the subfloor for any tile project. It strengthens the floor, removes bounce, and gives the tile a better substrate to adhere to. Regardless of the cause, cracking and popping tiles are a sign that something is going on with the subfloor below.
Obviously, water is a deadly enemy of floors. If there is water sitting between the finished floor and the sub-floor, there is a good chance that there will be some damage. If there was a leaking drain in the wall or a leaking sink nearby, or if there was a part of the roof that was leaking during the last storm, your sub-floor may have caught some water, and it’s time to investigate to make the amount of water there was. the damage.
Digging into the structure you normally stand on may seem daunting to some DIYers, but with a little knowledge and planning, it’s often a navigable course. The trick is to do the job step by step to keep a job like this manageable.
If you have the ability, the easiest thing to do is to look at your subfloor below. This might mean bringing a flashlight into the basement, cutting some drywall from the ceiling below, or even heading to the crawl space and pulling some insulation out of the way.
Know When It’s Time To Replace Water Damaged Floors
A quick inspection of your subfloor may reveal all you need to know about your problem, and the least invasive method is usually the best. There may be a point where it is necessary to remove a finished floor to properly understand the severity of the issue so be sure to understand that ahead of time. In the case of a dry subfloor with cracked tiles, it is almost certain that you will have to remove the tile to find a solution.
Is this a water issue and if so, where is it coming from? Is this the result of a poorly laid floor with the frames missing the joists when they laid down the covering? Are joists broken due to a structural defect such as a large knot? It is important to know what you are working with.
Stop the leak before you start. If you have water damage, the cause of the water must be resolved before any steps are taken to fix the floor. Fixing the floor before fixing the damp issue is like putting the cart before the horse. There is a process that must be followed, so once you have identified the source, repair it before you start working on your floor.
Water damage. Fixing water damage depends on many factors, but the most important of those factors is time. How long has the floor been getting wet? Long enough for the material to start to deteriorate? Is there evidence of a pattern? The answers to these questions will determine the next steps.
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If the water damage is a one-off, say from a heavy spill, a window left open during a storm, or other accidents, the existing subfloor is more likely to be salvageable.
If the water damage has been happening for a while and there are signs of wood chipping or mold, the only option might be to replace the affected subflooring.
It is also possible that your sub-floor was water damaged and has since dried out. If that is the case, the subfloor may be fine as far as mold and moisture are concerned but still feel a little soft. To remedy this situation, cut a piece of joist material (2×8, 2×10, or 2×12 depending on the circumstances) to fit across the two joists under the soft floor. Drive several screws through the joists and into the ends of the new board you are installing. This will add all the structure needed to stiffen up the subfloor.
Loose nails. As previously mentioned, squeaks are caused by the subfloor rubbing against nails. The nails work themselves loose as subfloor age and sinuses, despite maintaining their structural integrity. Fixing this situation could be as easy as running some extra screws through the sub-floor and into the floor joists below.
When To Repair Or Replace Your Hardwood Floors
If the bounce and jamming is caused by broken floor joists, a good option is to weld in new joists or laminate the old broken one. It can be a challenge to maneuver joists into place over a bearing wall on one side and a top plate on the other, so enlist the help of a friend. Once in place next to the broken joist, glue and screw the new joist to the old broken joist. Screw the subfloor material down to the new joists, and say goodbye to the bounce and squeak. There are many factors that go into figuring out how often you should replace your floor. The Carpet Guys want to give you as much information as possible so you can decide if you are ready to install your new flooring. Read on to learn more.
Carpet is the most frequently replaced flooring material. It is recommended to replace carpet every 7-10 years at least. It also happens to be the cheapest type of flooring. Depending on the type of carpet you have, it may help you decide if it’s time for a refresh. If your carpet is made of polyester fibers, it will be better against stains but foot traffic patterns will show earlier. If you have a nylon style carpet, it will hold up to everyday wear and tear but yes
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