Plywood underlay sits between the structural subfloor and flooring material of a building and provides a solid, smooth base to help the floor look better and last longer. It creates the foundation for the flooring material. While other materials are available for use as underlay, plywood is a common choice because of its strength, durability, and versatility with many different flooring types. It is not especially difficult to install.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Plywood underlay sheets. ¼-inch
- Screw-type drill bit
- Circular saw
- Deck screws, 1 inch
- Wallboard knife
- Floor patching compound
- Power sander
Lay a full sheet of plywood underlay, smooth side up, alongside the longest wall in the room, leaving a ¼-inch gap between the wall and the plywood underlay sheet. Make sure the seams of the plywood underlay do not run alongside the seams of the subfloor.
Fasten the plywood sheet by inserting screws to a depth just below the surface of the plywood underlay, at 6-inch intervals along the edges of the sheet, and at eight-inch intervals across the width of the sheet. Use a drill with a screwdriver bit and 1-inch deck screws. Continue laying sheets of plywood underlay, leaving a ¼-inch gap between the plywood sheets.
Create notches in plywood underlay sheets to fit into doorways, using a circular saw, and then fasten to the floor using the drill.
Spread a thin layer of floor patching compound over all seams and screws, using a wallboard knife, and allow a few hours for the compound to dry.
Sand areas where you applied the floor patching using a power sander until the area is smooth. Vacuum and wipe the floor with a damp cloth to remove all traces of dust.
Tips and warnings
- Lay the plywood underlay up against a wall in the room where you will install and allow the plywood to sit for a few days before installing. This is necessary to ensure it has time to adjust to room conditions, such as moisture and temperature.
- Ensure no weak areas develop in the floor by installing plywood underlay so underlay seams never align with subfloor seams.
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