What Is a Subfloor?

When it’s time to have a new floor installed in your home, it’s easy to get caught up in the portions that you’ll be seeing. The appearance of a new floor is often the most exciting aspect of having it installed, but there is more to getting a new floor than just what’s on the surface. As you begin this process, you’ll quickly learn that there are often a few crucial layers underneath your new floor top, and one of those layers is a subfloor.

If you’re wondering what a subfloor is, you’re not alone. Most people aren’t aware that there are layers underneath a new floor that are responsible for keeping it in good shape. Subflooring is one of those essential layers, and the more you know about it the easier it will be to keep your floors in pristine condition for years to come. Professionals like Wall 2 Wall can install both the subflooring and hardwood flooring in your home or business to give it both the look and structure you desire.

Here is a little more information about subfloors and why they are so essential to the installation of new flooring.

What Is a Subfloor?

When you have new floors installed, you’ll also likely have a subfloor installed as well. This is part of a group of layers that are installed to support the new flooring you’ve chosen for your home. To understand what a subfloor is, it’s a good idea to also know what layers surround the subfloor and the roles that they play.

Before having new flooring installed, professionals will install joists. Joists are a horizontal framework, usually made from wood. This framework acts as the bones of the new flooring and goes directly onto the original floor base and underneath the subfloor. The subfloor is the next layer and is installed across the joists. Subfloor can be made of a variety of materials and acts as a support layer for the build to come.

An optional next layer that can go on top of the subfloor before the final floor material is an underlayment, which can be necessary depending on the type of floor you’ve opted for. Finally, your surface flooring can be installed. Together, these layers create a floor that lasts and is less likely to become damaged from normal wear and tear.

What Type of Subfloor Options Are Available?

Once you know what a subfloor is and the role it plays, your next step will be to figure out which type of subfloor to have installed. Subflooring comes in a variety of materials, and the one that’s right for your home will depend on a few different things. One of the most common types of subfloor is plywood. It’s made from strips of wood veneer that are strategically layered and bonded together using heat. This is a popular option due to their resistance to expansion and contractions. It comes in a variety of options, with tongue and groove being among the most popular.

Another type of subflooring option is concrete. It’s one of the most durable and sturdy materials to use. People usually choose this option as the subfloor for basement projects. When having a tile floor installed, concrete subflooring can work on its own. But when you want to have a different type of flooring, like wood or carpet, installed, it’s recommended to also have an underlayment to act as a moisture barrier.

Oriented strand board (OSB) is a more cost-effective option for subfloor but also comes with some drawbacks. This subfloor option is made out of chunks of wood that are pressed and glued together to create a flat surface. One of the drawbacks of OSB is that it has a higher potential to hold moisture, which can cause problems with your surface flooring over time. Still, the right professional will be able to install and maintain each type of these subfloor options in a way that allows them to sustain for as long as possible.

Is Subflooring Necessary?

If you’re in the beginning stages of having new flooring installed, you may be wondering if installing subflooring is necessary. To some, it might just seem like an extra cost or step in an already long process, but a subfloor is an essential component to the flooring process, and having it installed correctly can save you from having to get major repairs to your surface floor. They also have a few other advantages that may be appealing to you.

One of the benefits of subfloors is that they can provide temperature control for a room. Concrete floors in particular are known to become quite cold in the winter and having a subfloor can help to regulate that temperature during the colder months. Another reason that having a subfloor is necessary is that most types of surface flooring can’t be installed without it. Joists leave space between their framework, meaning that whatever layer goes on top of that won’t have a completely leveled surface to support it.

Finished flooring on its own wouldn’t be strong enough to hold the weight of everyday use if set on joists alone. The finished surface floor also isn’t designed to be installed directly on joists. Professionals like Wall 2 Wall can make your subflooring process easy and ensure that each essential layer is installed correctly to give you the durable results you’re looking for.

Do I Need My Subfloor Replaced?

If you’ve been experiencing issues with your flooring, it’s easy to think that you need to have it replaced entirely. But that isn’t always the case. Hearing things like squeaking when you walk or experiencing sagging in the floor can be a direct result of a damaged subfloor.

While having a subfloor installed correctly is an important aspect of having new flooring, it’s important to know that your established flooring already has a subfloor and keeping it in good condition is in your best interest. If you’ve been experiencing issues with your flooring, having a local professional inspect the surface and subfloor can help you to find a solution faster.