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Question DetailsAsked on 4/24/2016

What is the best method to install engineered hardwood floors in high rise building with concrete floors?

I am looking to install of about 700 sq ft of 2.5 inch engineered red oak in the bedrooms/hallway/closets of my downtown Boston Condo (2006 High Rise) which is currently carpet. The already installed hardwood (of same variety) in the LR/DR/Kitchen from the original builder looks to be over concrete and may be glued down. A flooring guy that visited to give a quote for extending hardwoods into the bedrooms did not want the work because of the previously installed floors he believed to be glued. Are there other install options of hardwoods over concrete commonly used in high rise buildings? Is this work less common for most flooring contractors?

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1 Answer


Could well be glued down if original mass-install over concrete - though he should have been able to easily determine that for sure by taking up a transition strip at the edge of the carpeting or removing an HVAC register and looking down inside the opening.

I am not quite sure why he did not want the job since the new work involves removing carpet, not the old flooring (as I read it), though that would require transition strips (metal or wood threshold strips like you have now at the hardwood/carpet interfaces) because the glued-down flooring is thinner than laminate over padding - the more normal installation. So if glued-down now, you are going to have a 1/4-1/2" or so transition up to the new flooring.

When you say 2.5 inch red oak I presume you mean wide, not thick ? Laminate would normally be 1/2-3/4" thick roughly - if 2.5" thick then probably original (and quite old) solid wood.

Anyway - with laminate the normal installation would be snap joint or snap-and-glue laminate over padding, which over concrete (even if not on ground) I would always use a vapor barrier padding to avoid condensation on the typically (at least near outer walls) much cooler concrete. Open-weave backed carpet over concrete is OK if the padding is also air permeable, but put laminate over concrete and it is just too easy to trap airborne or concrete-borne moisture under there and end up with condensation when the unit below (say vacant for awhile) or the outside air goes cold. The added 5-10¢/SF cost for the vapor barrier is well worth the peace of mind in my opinion.

BTW - do not put free-floating laminate down without a pad - you will get "slap" or "bunny thumping" as you walk on it, which may or may not disturb you but sure to get complaints from your downstairs neighbor.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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