I am installing vinyl flooring and am looking to replace the strips between my sub-floor and underlayment.

Main reason is because I had particle-board glued on top and had to replace it and I'm nervous to sand the glue off of the strips because I don't want to affect the height and plus I don't think they're in the best of shape.

The strips are also fiberboard and I rather have something more solid. Currently they are 8ft x 2.5" x 1/2". If I were to get something like this: Poplar Board and lay them the horizontally and space them out instead would this accomplish the same thing?

I am unable to find exact replacements for what I currently have. Also, if the above board would work what's the best way of adhering it to the plywood sub-floor?

Pictures below show what I am looking to replace:

main floor enter image description here

Thanks a lot in advance for the advice!


  • 1
    Let's call those "sleepers" or "furring strips". Risers are in stairs. Also, that's MDF (fiberboard), not particle board. Just FYI.
    – isherwood
    May 8, 2020 at 19:52
  • 2
    I would think you could install anything of the appropriate thickness, such as plywood, OSB, particle board, MDF. It could be full sheets, It does not necessarily have to be sleepers or furring strips.
    – Alaska Man
    May 8, 2020 at 19:58

1 Answer 1


The short answer is that you can use almost anything solid with a few caveats:

  • Whatever you lay over it needs to be able to span any voids you leave. If you fill with solid plywood, that's not a concern. If you use something else as sleepers, your underlayment needs to be able to carry typical floor loads across the gaps.
  • If you use sleepers and gaps, be aware of what's carrying them. Widely spaced sleepers with full-thickness subfloor over them, for example, should probably align with floor joists below.
  • Everything should be glued and nailed (or, better, screwed). Use proper subfloor/construction adhesive. Take all necessary precautions to avoid creaks and squeaks.
  • Fasteners need to be set flush or below. If you try screwing your selected material down and the screws strip out in the substrate and remain sticking up you have problems.

I'll leave my answer intentionally vague as such because then you're free to source what's available and cost-effective.

  • Thanks for the great advice! Previously there were 1/2" sleepers and 1/4" MDF on top. If I just leave out the spacers and glue down 3/4" plywood and put the vinyl flooring on that I should be okay? Other than cost is there a reason why someone would've used sleepers to raise the floor other than just putting another 3/4" plywood down?
    – deved out
    May 8, 2020 at 20:16
  • 1
    I can thing of only one other reason--that this arrangement reduces noise. It may dampen clicky sounds for the walker and reduce overall sound for occupants below.
    – isherwood
    May 8, 2020 at 20:44

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