How to Install Particleboard Flooring

  • 8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 850
What You'll Need
Skill saw or table saw
Tape measure
Carpenter square
Safety glasses
Workman's gloves
Pneumatic nail gun (optional)
Portable air compressor

Learning how to install particleboard sub-floor and actually doing it can save homeowners quite a bit of money, but this job is very time consuming and can be very hard work. Mainly used as inexpensive but sturdy sub-flooring, particleboard will support tile, carpet, and vinyl floor coverings.

Step 1: Choose Flooring Material

All but one of the particleboards commercially available (oriented strand board) are addressed in the American National Standard using the grading specification indicating their density classes by the letters H (high), M (medium), and L (low), and is available in several weight-bearing thicknesses. It is best to consult with your supplier when choosing the one that is right for your floor depending on how much weight is anticipated to be placed on it. Manufacturers usually have the edges colored for specific grades.

Step 2: Measure Flooring Requirements

Determine the square footage required by accurately measuring the length times the width of the room in which the floor will be laid. Although most sub-flooring particleboard sheets come in the same size as plywood sheets (4 feet by 8 feet) some specialty manufacturers provide more customized sizes for construction purposes. Dividing the area total by the sheet sizes will reveal the total number of sheets required for a particular flooring job. It is also a great idea to purchase an additional board to allow for errors in cutting.

Step 3: Laying Particle Board

Laying particleboard requires that you wear eye protection and gloves since you'll be using power saws and a hammer or nail gun at every sheet. The sheets are also quite heavy and awkward to handle and should not be lifted without help. Having selected and measured the required particle board, put on your work gloves. Start at one corner of the room and begin laying down the sheeting of particleboard. Match the tongue edge of the particleboard to the groove of the previous sheet to ensure a tight seal between each sheet. Offsetting the end joints of subsequent rows—where one row starts with a full sheet and the next one with a half sheet—will also provide additional stability and strength to your floor, making sure that you always maintain the tightest of joints between the grooves and the tongues.

Particleboards are usually cut to size using a portable circular saw. To avoid gaps between the sheets, check the squareness of the floor you're covering and adjust your last cuts against the end wall by the same amount that the square is off at the 4-foot mark. Although installing particleboard sheeting does not necessarily require caulking, using a silicone caulk will ensure a tighter seal. This seal could also help to limit ant and other insect invasions.

Step 4: Secure Particle Board Sheeting

Be sure to wear safety glasses before nailing particle boards into place, especially if using a nail gun. After installing a full row, starting the next row so the end of the sheet is at the midpoint of the one on the previous row (offset) will ensure the sheets are perfectly aligned at the joints as you fit it tightly against the sheet at the top. This will also ensure the boards are nailed securely without any gaps. It is also a good idea to have someone stand on the section of the board that is being nailed down. This will create a tighter fitting of each of the boards as they are nailed into place.