How to Install Interlocking Subfloor Panels, Part 1 How to Install Interlocking Subfloor Panels, Part 1

What You'll Need
Circular saw
Wall board knife
1-inch screws
Electric drill and drill bits
Flooring roller
Floor patching compound
1/8-inch notched trowel
Metal straight ruler
Utility knife
1-inch deck screws
Thin-set mortar
Power sander
1/4-inch notched trowel
Fiberglass-mesh tape
1 5/8-inch deck screws
Wood floor panels

Knowing how to install interlocking subfloor panels will help you to ensure your floor's overall integrity. These panels guard against basement leaks and the resulting water damage. This is especially a concern if you live in an area with a significant amount of overall ground water. Concrete basement floors can be damp and cold; installing subfloor panels will also make your basement a more usable space.  

Step 1 -- Measure and Prepare the Space

Carefully measure and calculate the entire floor area where you will be laying your interlocking panels. This will help you determine exactly how many you will need to buy. Clean the basement floor by vacuuming any debris. Fill out any dips or low spots in the floor, using a floor-patching compound for any spots deeper than 1/4 inch. For those smaller than 1/4 inch, use plastic or rubber compounds.

Step 2 -- Allow Panels to Adjust

Lay the wood panels on the basement floor for 7 to 14 days. This will acclimate the wood to the temperature and moisture levels and prevent later cracking or warping. Make sure you lay them with the plastic side facing down.

Step 3 -- Cut Interlocking Panels

For each second panel, cut a tongue-and-groove fitting that will allow the panels to interlock once all of them are fit together. Begin at your basement corners and lay your panels in a dry run. If you find that your last row will be less than 6 inches wide, trim some from the first row to balance it all out.

Step 4 -- Lay Expansion Gap and Panels 

Include 1/4-inch expansion gap spacers around the entire perimeter of the basement floor. Take care while laying your panels that you do not accidentally knock these spacers out of place. Lay your first panel, again starting at a corner, and make sure its groove is against the wall. Lay the second panel in place and fit the groove into the first panel's tongue. Repeat this process with the rest of your panels, and tap each one securely in place with a hammer or small mallet. Remove the spacers and make sure you tap down the last panel. 

Step 5 -- Build Interior Walls

Your interior stud wall and 2-by-4 frame will go on the top of your new basement subfloor. Mark off increments of 6 feet and use your 1 5/8-inch deck screws to attach the plates of your frame into the underlayment and cement floor at each of these points. If you have decided to use metal studs for your frame, install these every 2 feet instead of 6 feet. Lastly, attach the plates of your interior stud wall to your basement's ceiling joist. Count the total ceiling joists ahead of time and install with one wood screw every 4 to 5 feet along them.   


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