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What is a subfloor in construction

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Discover the importance of subfloors in construction and how they contribute to the stability and durability of buildings. Learn about their types, installation process, and common FAQs.

When it comes to constructing a solid and long-lasting building, one crucial element that often goes unnoticed is the subfloor. A subfloor acts as the foundation for any floor covering, providing stability, insulation, and support to the entire structure. In this article, we will delve into the concept of subfloors in construction, exploring their significance, types, installation process, and addressing common questions related to their role.

  1. Understanding the Significance of a Subfloor:

A subfloor serves as the base layer upon which the finished flooring is installed. It is typically made of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) and is positioned directly on top of the building's foundation. The subfloor plays a vital role in supporting the weight of furniture, appliances, and foot traffic, preventing the floor covering from sagging or flexing. Additionally, it provides insulation, noise reduction, and acts as a barrier against moisture.

  1. Types of Subfloors in Construction:

a) Plywood Sub

The subfloor is the layer above the joist, but below the underlayment (which is the layer below the surface). The purpose of the subfloor is to ensure that the ground is level and stable so that you can install a surface evenly. You can build subfloors out of plywood, concrete, particleboard, and oriented strand board.

What's the difference between a subfloor and a floor?

You have the top layer that is your floor covering (Hardwood, Laminate, Vinyl, Carpet, etc.), next you have the underlayment (usually a thin layer of fiber, foam, rubber), below that you have your subfloor (plywood, OSB, concrete), and lastly you have the joists which are the foundation to your floors.

What is a subfloor in a house?

Subfloor is the solid material beneath your floor covering. It's attached to your home's floor joists and acts as a base for your finished flooring, such as carpet, hardwood, laminate or tile. Not only does it make installing new flooring easier, but it also makes your floors smooth to walk on.

What is an example of a subfloor?

The subfloor is made of plywood or OSB typically in thickness from 19/32 inches to 1-1/8 inches. If there is a concrete slab floor, the slab itself may be considered the subfloor. Subfloor plywood or OSB sheets typically have tongue-and-groove edges to reduce floor sagging and bounce.

What goes between subfloor and floor?

Underlayment

Underlayment is different from the subfloor in that it rests between the subfloor and the actual floor. Resting on top of the subfloor, it acts as a protective barrier and is meant to absorb any roughness or imperfections of the subfloor. Underlayments help to provide extra support to the actual floor.

Is subfloor the same as plywood?

The subfloor is always a structural layer of sheet good material—usually plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), or occasionally particleboard. Builders often debate which is best for the two most common subfloor materials: plywood or OSB.

Do all houses have a subfloor?

Most all houses, with rare exceptions, have subfloors. The subfloor is what rests on top of the joists. The subfloor is thick, not very pretty to look at, and hard to walk on. The subfloor is nailed to the joists, but if it becomes loose or warped, it can cause squeaky floors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is typically used for subflooring in new construction today?

Often, builders use underlayment first, followed by a subfloor, which acts as the floor's foundation and structural support. A structural layer of sheet excellent material, like plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), is often used as the subfloor.

What is the best flooring for a wood subfloor?

Hardwood has been a flooring option for thousands of years. It works well over any type of wood subfloor more than 1/2 an inch thick. If squeaky floors are an issue, some construction adhesive will keep everything nice and quiet. Laminate floors can be installed over any wooden subfloor as long as it's in good repair.

What do builders use for subfloor?

Most all houses have subfloors. The subfloor is made of plywood or OSB typically in thickness from 19/32 inches to 1-1/8 inches. If there is a concrete slab floor, the slab itself may be considered the subfloor. Subfloor plywood or OSB sheets typically have tongue-and-groove edges to reduce floor sagging and bounce.

What issubfloor in construction

3 days ago — The subfloor is the flat, stable, level surface below the floor covering. The subfloor rests on top of the joists and is nailed to the joists.

What does a sub floor look like?

Most all houses have subfloors. The subfloor is made of plywood or OSB typically in thickness from 19/32 inches to 1-1/8 inches. If there is a concrete slab floor, the slab itself may be considered the subfloor. Subfloor plywood or OSB sheets typically have tongue-and-groove edges to reduce floor sagging and bounce.

What is the subfloor area of a house?

The subfloor of a house is the space between the natural ground and the floor above. In some homes, that space is large enough to create a room or even a new floor.

Is subfloor considered structural?

Subflooring is a critical structural element that can determine the performance and longevity of the entire flooring system.

FAQ

Do you put anything under subfloor?

Plywood underlayment is typically needed when a floor material must have a very smooth, flat surface. For example, if you install resilient tiles or sheet flooring over a subfloor, any bumps, dips, or voids in the subfloor may be evident in the finished flooring.

What is subfloor attached to?

The subfloor rests on top of the joists and is nailed to the joists. Most all houses have subfloors. The subfloor is made of plywood or OSB typically in thickness from 19/32 inches to 1-1/8 inches.

What does a subfloor consist of?

Typically, subfloor is made of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) panels. In areas that are below grade, such as a basement, the concrete foundation is often considered the subfloor, though plywood and OSB panels can be installed over concrete using ground-level floor joists called sleepers.

What is beneath the subfloor?

You have the top layer that is your floor covering (Hardwood, Laminate, Vinyl, Carpet, etc.), next you have the underlayment (usually a thin layer of fiber, foam, rubber), below that you have your subfloor (plywood, OSB, concrete), and lastly you have the joists which are the foundation to your floors.

What is a typical subfloor construction?
Wood planks are a traditional subflooring material, but they have been mostly replaced by plywood. Planks measure 1x6, they are made from softwoods such as pine, and they are nailed into wood joists with standard box nails.

How is a subfloor built?

Install the subfloor.

Lay down 3⁄4 in (1.9 cm) tongue-and-groove plywood panels over the joists, then use wood glue or panel adhesive and galvanized flooring nails to secure each panel around its edges. Work in small sections until the entire floor is covered.

What is a subfloor in construction

What is the structure of the subfloor?

The subfloor is a sturdy structural layer that rests directly on the joists. It's usually made of oriented strand board (OSB) or plywood.

Is a subfloor considered structural?

Used for structural and foundation support, subfloors ideally minimize moisture absorption and help prevent excessive movement, sagging, unequal heights, separation, or squeaking within the floor system.

How much does it cost to replace subfloor?

For an average-sized room of 300 square feet, expect to spend about $900 to $3,000 on the cost to replace subfloors, or $3 to $10 per square foot. Most homeowners spend about an average of $1,560.

What is the plywood under flooring called?

The subfloor is the structural plywood that is used during construction. It is usually a composite product such as OSB that is manufactured for its strength and engineered structural qualities. Plywood underlayment is the layer of plywood that is fastened over the structural subfloor.

What is the wood under flooring called?

The terms "underlayment" and "subfloor" are often used interchangeably, but they are separate layers. The subfloor is always a structural layer of sheet good material—usually plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), or occasionally particleboard.

What are the boards under the floor?

Typically, subfloor is made of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) panels. In areas that are below grade, such as a basement, the concrete foundation is often considered the subfloor, though plywood and OSB panels can be installed over concrete using ground-level floor joists called sleepers.

  • What is another name for underlayment plywood?
    • Lauan plywood (also known as Luan Plywood) is a commercial term used throughout the United States that typically refers to a 1/8" - 1/4" tropical hardwood plywood panel used for underlayment in flooring, lamination, paper overlay, furniture, and millwork applications.

  • What goes between subfloor and plywood?
    • You have the top layer that is your floor covering (Hardwood, Laminate, Vinyl, Carpet, etc.), next you have the underlayment (usually a thin layer of fiber, foam, rubber), below that you have your subfloor (plywood, OSB, concrete), and lastly you have the joists which are the foundation to your floors.

  • What is the best subfloor material for new construction?
    • Standard plywood works perfectly fine as a subflooring material, but the best option is ¾” tongue-and-groove plywood subflooring. This system has interlocking tongue-and-groove edges, which help prevent movement along the panel edges, resulting in a stiffer floor.

  • What was used for subfloor before plywood?
    • During recent years, many of these OSB panels have evolved into what is known as a “high performance” alternative to the older commodity OSB products from 30-50 years ago. Prior to the plywood and OSB sheet goods we are most familiar with today, solid board subflooring was the go-to material used as wooden subfloors.

  • What is a subfloor in construction?
    • The subfloor is the initial layer of solid material placed just above the joists or other structure of a building. Some structures may have solid hardwood flooring that is attached directly to the joists. This surface essentially serves as the subfloor.

  • What is the best subfloor for the money?
    • OSB is a cheaper and lighter option than plywood, but it doesn't last as long. Plywood is more expensive, but it's a more durable material that can last up to 60 years if properly protected.

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