I need some help! I live in a prewar building, I am looking for a cheap and easy way to install a 10mm floating laminate floor. I ripped up the old carpet to find 1inch wood plank subfloor. The floor boards are squeaky and loose. I secured and tightened loose planks. I was told I need to add a 1/2" plywood subfloor over the plank floor in order to install laminate. I need this to be as inexpensive and easy as possible. Can I use particle board just to smooth out the floor in order to install a floating laminate floor? Would That be less expensive and easier to install than plywood? I know I cannot install the laminate over the planks. I would hate to have to re carpet so any advice would be appreciated!!

3 Answers 3


I'd personally choose 1/2" OSB. It's inexpensive, and ought to hold up reasonably well, even against limited moisture. DO NOT USE particle board. It swells way up and then DISSOLVES if it gets wet.

  • As someone who currently lives in a manufactured house (which uses particle board as a subfloor)--don't use it! I've replaced any wet sections with plywood for less headaches in the future. Jul 18, 2018 at 19:33

There is no doubt that particle board or MDF would be less expensive than plywood, especially initially.

However, particle board is not suitable as an underfloor (or underlayment) unless it is covered by a waterproof membrane such as vinyl. When particle board is wet long term, it basically dissolves.

  • Hmm I guess since it's a rental and I won't be here for longer than 10 years if even that long I don't care if it dissolves :) what about OSB? Is 1/2" enough? Also, I will be adding underlayment on top of the particle board or OSB and then put the laminate on top of that. Thoughts?
    – Chris
    Nov 28, 2013 at 5:37
  • Do you think I could add 1/4" plywood on top of the 1" wood planks just for a flat surface so the laminate flooring can be installed without any soft spots?
    – Chris
    Nov 28, 2013 at 7:02
  • 1/4" ply is very flexible.
    – bib
    Nov 28, 2013 at 13:33
  • 1
    @Chris: 1/4" over 1 inch planks probably will be fine.
    – wallyk
    Nov 28, 2013 at 17:16

I would carefully consider the full cost of the job as opposed to just looking at the cost for the underlayment material. In the complete analysis how does the cost of the underlayment compare to the cost of the flooring itself? The total cost of the project also needs to consider the potential future cost of ripping out substandard materials for later replacement should they fail for some reason.

When you consider things this way it can often help to leading toward the better materials than the "cheapest right now" selection.

Particle board would be normally be low on my list of choices.

  • Thanks Michael, I do agree and will not be using particle board. As for what needs to be replaced down the line, I won't be here for that. Once I leave this apartment will be in need of a gut renovation. I have around another 5-10 years max here. I am a rent controlled apartment and the rent is going up to fair market value by then. In which case I would leave. I priced carpeting and I was quoted 1300. For less, I can add a 1/2" OSB and put laminate on top. I agree particle board is junk and I will be using ply or OSB 1/2" thanks
    – Chris
    Nov 29, 2013 at 14:53

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