Pre- finished hardwood flooring over particle board and plywood

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  #1  
Old 06-20-14, 05:57 AM
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Pre- finished hardwood flooring over particle board and plywood

Recently purchased a home and had the carpet pulled up and hardwood flooring installed- 3/4 pre-finished hardwood over 3/4 inch particle board and 1/2 inch plywood underneath. I knew at the time that this was not a good idea, but due to short time frame and poor guidance from the flooring installer we went ahead with this project. The installer used very long staples which he assured would grab the plywood below.
The particle board is in great condition and there are no moisture issues from below.
I am actually sick about this and am worried that our floors will start buckling or worse. Everything I have read since the installation says not to do this. We will be giving our installer a poor rating on Angie's List for not insisting on pulling up the particle board and installing 3/4 inch plywood on top of the 1/2 inch plywood.

Please tell me the best and worst case scenario for this problem. The floors look beautiful now. What can we expect?
 
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Old 06-20-14, 06:00 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

Not much sense it worrying about it now! I don't think there is anything that you can do short of ripping it up and starting over I'd enjoy the new flooring for now and address any problems later after they show up
 
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Old 06-20-14, 06:16 AM
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We will be giving our installer a poor rating on Angie's List for not insisting on pulling up the particle board and installing 3/4 inch plywood on top of the 1/2 inch plywood.
I wouldn't badmouth the installer for something that you don't know will ever become a problem.
 
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Old 06-20-14, 07:30 AM
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I've removed a heck of a lot of particle board. While the installer should have provided due diligence and advised against the installation over particleboard, I think your insistence forced the issue. Not all installers are great negotiators and not all are great with math either. Your particle board is 5/8" thick, not 3/4" and even if he used 2" staples, it would only penetrate the 1/2" plywood by only 3/8". See attached visual for verification - 445FS Stapls for all 15 Gage Staplers for Hardwood Flooring Installtion. In reality, the 1/2" is not doing much to help hold the staple.

The issues will surface depending on how much flex there is in the floor, the fact that they are shot into the floor at an angle and the potential for moisture issues down the road. It is rare to see a particle board floor without some form of damage, either from spilled beverages or errant watering of a plant. They are also not tongue and groove so it does nothing structurally to the floor system that you just added a ton of new wood weight too. Not sure where in VA you are located, but, if on crawl, adding a stiffener beam down the center to give the floor some additional stiffness may be in order. How big are the spans and joists?
 
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Old 06-21-14, 08:35 PM
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Hi czizzi,
Thanks for the thoughtful and detailed reply. By span do you mean the space between the joists? If so, 16". I am not sure what size the joists are without going under the house. My husband liked the idea of reinforcing if we see there is a need. So far there are only 2 areas that seem to have any flexing. We were on a very tight time schedule for this project which added to the difficulty in getting the job done right. We'll hope that no huge problems occur, but if they do it's reassuring that there are some possible fixes.
 
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Old 06-21-14, 08:46 PM
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The reason for the poor rating is that this installer made a trip to the property to measure the job and check under the carpet. He told us that there was plywood under the carpet. I guess if I hadn't looked we might not have even known about the particle board. By the time I saw this it would have been schedule-wise difficult to do the job correctly. The installer promised us that it would be fine. Now I am finding out it might not be, so I will certainly let people know to be careful about working with this individual. The actual workmanship on the floors looks good. Hope it still does in a year!
 
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Old 06-21-14, 08:51 PM
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Thanks marksr,
You are of course right. No use worrying now. The floors do look lovely, I am just glad to know via czizzi that if there is a problem that there may be ways to fix it without having to rip it all up. Hope any if this might be helpful to someone else. Wish I had joined this site before the flooring project! Glad to be a member now
 
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Old 06-22-14, 07:18 AM
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It sometimes is a challenge ascertaining the make-up of the subfloor. I had an instance when I was installing hardwood flooring. I peeled back the carpet in the most convenient place that was open without furniture. It happened to be next to the sliding door to the porch. Pulled back the carpet and pad and there was 3/4" plywood. I provided an estimate and scheduled the install. When I started to tear out the carpet and pad, it turns out that the area in front of the sliding door had been previously repaired and replaced with plywood. The rest of the floor was OSB that had a lot of swelling around the edges that was unsuitable for hardwood installation and needed to be replaced. We had to do a change order to account for the replacement of the subfloor (which was replaced). So - Mistakes do happen, we are all human.

By the time I saw this it would have been schedule-wise difficult to do the job correctly
However, it was your insistence on the tight time frame that fueled the install. Therefore, the poor rating should be forgiven and instead your rating should be on the finished product which you said was excellent. You still do need to hold him to some form of warranty on the install if he assured you that all would be fine. For piece of mind, ask him how long he will back his installation.
 
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Old 06-22-14, 08:05 AM
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Are we really sure it was particle board. It hasn't (or shouldn't have) been used as subflooring in years. Could it possibly have been 3/4" OSB, or Advantech?
 
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