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!!
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.
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.
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.