How to Prepare Uneven Subfloors for Laminate Flooring

Lead Image
  • 4-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • $120-200
What You'll Need
Hammer or nail gun
Self-leveling compound
Laminate pad
Moisture barrier

Before installing a laminate floor, you must make sure the subfloor is completely level. Not only is trying to install laminate over an uneven subfloor difficult, but also it can be dangerous. To make a subfloor suitable for installing laminate, check out this basic guide first.

Assessing the Subfloor

First, assess the severity of the uneven subfloor. If you have a concrete floor, you must use a self-leveling compound to level the floor out. If you have a wood floor, you can follow the same process. However, if the wooden floor is severely uneven, you should consider installing plywood over the top of the floor to create a smooth, level surface. Decide which leveling method suits your needs, and follow the directions for your chosen process below.

Applying Self-Leveling Compound

If you have a concrete subfloor, or a wood subfloor with only minor leveling issues, you can apply self-leveling compound to even it out.

Step 1 – Mix the Compound

Mix up the self-leveling compound in a bucket. Follow the directions provided on the bag to mix it properly.

Step 2 – Use a Trowel

Next, use a trowel to apply the self-leveling compound to the problematic areas. The compound will move into the valleys in the floor that need to be brought back up.

Step 3 – Allow to Dry

Give the compound adequate time to dry before proceeding to install laminate. If you need to, you can follow the above process again to apply a second coat of self-leveling compound to make the floor more level. Then, follow the directions below to install the pad.

Installing Plywood

If you are working with wood subfloor, and you find that there are some extremely uneven surfaces, you may want to apply new plywood over the top of the subfloor.

Step 1 – Lay the Plywood

First, take the plywood and lay it down on the floor. Plywood will be big enough to span the distance of any imperfections in the floor, making it level.

Step 2 – Use Nails

Use a hammer or nail gun to drive nails into the plywood. Make sure the nails are long enough to go through the plywood and into the subfloor.

Installing the Pad

Once you’ve leveled your floor, you can install the laminate pad. If you’re on a concrete subfloor, you will need to lay down a moisture barrier before applying the pad. Remember to pin down the barrier to keep it from shifting around. After installing the moisture barrier, select the thickest pad you can get to help level out the floor even more. Then, place the pad and get ready to install your laminate flooring.