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Installing new hardwood over original hardwood floors

Just bought a 100 year old home with hardwood floors throughout. For a 100 year old home the floors are fairly level and in pretty good shape. We could sand and refinish the floors and they would look good but here are my concerns. The flooring was laid directly over the floor joists with no other subflooring. There are some gaps in the floor where you can actually see the basement light coming up from below. The basement is damp, drafty and full of critters. Just refinishing the floors will still leave the gaps and unwanted ventilation coming from the basement.

I was wondering if new hardwood could be installed directly over the existing floor. If not the alternative would be to pry up the old flooring, install a subfloor and then install the new hardwood. The easiest and least expensive solution would be to install directly over the existing hardwood.

Any suggestions or recommendations would be appreciated.

Re: Installing new hardwood over original hardwood floors

You could install install plywood and insulation between the joists if you want to refinish the floors or you can install new hard wood over the old. Be sure to install a vapor barrier.


Re: Installing new hardwood over original hardwood floors

How about a few inches of spray foam on the underside of the floor? Closed cell foam would be a vapor barrier and insulation in one. Would also be an absolute air infiltration and insect barrier. Not the cheapest solution, however.

Re: Installing new hardwood over original hardwood floors

Remodelers install new hardwood over the original all of the time around here. Most houses are on Pier and Beam with a crawl space.
If I were you(and I will be in your position in a couple of years) I would consider just how nice will your new floors be? Will they be the same quality of wood? Will you lose any historical value of your home?
The spray foam recommendation would allow you to keep your floors, I will personally be considering that as well as the thoughts of if my floors still have another sanding in them.

Re: Installing new hardwood over original hardwood floors

Is originality a concern? If so I'd remove the existing flooring salvaging as much as possible, then relay the flooring. If you lose any in removal, you can take out the flooring in a closet to get matching wood, then add new in that closet where it won't be so readily seen. I'd like to see underlayment added but it's not absolutely necessary. Yes, this is a lot of work but it's what I'd do if originality mattered.

Chances are that you'd be happy with new hardwood. New underlayment could be thinner since you're leaving the original flooring in place, and it will seal the spaces you have now. Either way insulation from underneath will help and ordjen is right about the closed-cell sprayed foam being best here, but with underlayment fiberglass would be OK too.

I've seen a number of older homes with hardwood applied directly over the joists and so long as there were no moisture problems it seems to work well other than insulation which is a relatively new idea compared to when these homes were built.


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