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3 Common Subfloor Preparation Problems: How To Spot And Fix Them

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You've decided to treat yourself, and your home, to some beautiful new flooring – and install it yourself! Installing new hardwood, laminate or carpeting can be tricky, but sometimes, the biggest issues are uncovered before the first piece of flooring or padding is laid. Preparing the subfloor correctly is critical, and there are many common problems you might encounter. Here are three common subfloor preparation problems, and how to hopefully avoid and fix them:

Those Familiar Creaks

If you live in an older home, you know that it's not uncommon to hear creaks, cracks and an array of strange noises. According to This Old House, the majority of these creaks and squeaks are caused by a combination of your house settling, and the normal shrinkage that occurs when wooden joists and subflooring shrinks.

In many cases, these creaks aren't dangerous, and even add to the charm of your older home. However, if you've noticed these squeaks and creaks are found in areas where the flooring doesn't seem safe or secure, it might be time to contact a professional.

Generally, all a contractor would need to do to eliminate these creaks once-and-for-all is to replace the flooring joists, which are found in the basement, or replace the plywood under your existing flooring. In some cases, the plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) that was used to construct the home wasn't thick enough and needs to be swapped out.

Too Much Moisture

After ripping up your existing flooring, you've noticed there is just too much damage to the subfloor, and you're unfortunately faced with the expense of creating a stronger base for your hardwoods, laminate or carpet. You've decided a concrete subfloor is the best option, but are you aware of the potential problems that can arise if the concrete isn't allowed to cure properly?

If you're laying a new concrete subfloor or putting carpeting or hardwoods over your existing concrete subfloor, it's important to test the moisture levels first. Luckily, there is an inexpensive tool available at most hardware stores that will easily allow you to determine if your newly-laid concrete flooring is dry enough to proceed, or if there are potential problems in the existing slab.

For example, if you notice a higher moisture reading in one area of your existing concrete subfloor, the problem might be a leaky pipe.

The meters are easy to read and if you notice a persistently high moisture level, it's vital to contact a professional immediately to determine the best way to get your moisture problem under control. Otherwise, you'll end up with hardwood or laminate flooring that features uneven seams, buckling and noticeable cupping.

My Concrete Floor Just Isn't Level

Finally, there is another common issue that you might encounter, and it is once again, easy to remedy: an uneven concrete slab. Luckily, if the uneven spots are minor, and you're laying carpeting, in most cases there won't be an issue.

However, if you're opting for tile or traditional hardwood, you'll need to take a few extra steps. One option is to use a concrete grinder to eliminate the high spots, and a few scoops of freshly-mixed concrete to eliminate any depressions.

A self-leveling compound is another great option that will provide an even more smooth, even surface, which is often critical if you're installing tile flooring. Follow the directions on the self-leveling concrete, which is a great DIY product that is generally poured directly onto the existing subfloor and simply smoothed out with a trowel.

Pinpointing and fixing problems in your subfloor is critical, and even though it might seem like a chore, it is a necessary additional step if you want the finished product to look perfect. If there are simply too many issues for you to tackle, or you don't feel comfortable proceeding, don't hesitate to contact a professional! You can find a flooring company online if you follow this link.