Can You Install Laminate Flooring Over Foam Board? (Explained)

Laminate floors are a functional yet cost-effective flooring option. They can be used in living rooms, kitchens, and even bedrooms.

Laminate floors comprise of particleboard wood base attached to an image layer. These days, these floors feature deep embossing with enhanced images, making them look better and sharper than most floor finishes.

You can install laminate floors over a wide range of substrates, but can they be used over foam boards? That is what we will be discussing in today’s article.

Installing wooden laminate flooring

Is It Advisable to Install Laminate Floor Over Foam Board?

It is completely unacceptable for you to install a laminate floor over foam board. Foam boards are often used for insulation purposes in any construction project.

According to building codes, insulation isn’t an approved structural material. Therefore, when you install a laminate floor over the foam board, you are stirring up a recipe for failure.

It’s not just laminate floors. All types of floors must be installed on a structurally sound subfloor. Foam board is far from being considered a structurally sound subfloor.

When you put the laminate floor directly over the foam board, the former will fail, and you will have to deal with costly and time-consuming repairs.

Why Can Someone Be Interested in Installing Laminate Floor Over Foam Board?

Before we dig much deeper into this project, we must identify the reasons why someone may want to install a laminate floor over foam board. There are only two explanations;

1. You like laminate flooring

There are plenty of reasons why people like laminate floors. It looks great. These days, you can choose from thousands of images and even use custom graphics.

Laminate floors are super easy to clean, and the best part is that they are an inexpensive flooring material. So, if you are building a floor on a budget, it’s the best choice.

2. You want to make the subfloor warm

Not everyone has the luxury of living in an area with good weather. People living in colder climates have to deal with freezing subfloors which can be pretty inconvenient.

Foam board is one of the best insulation materials. If used on the floor, it can make it much warmer by ensuring the low temperatures from the concrete slab don’t reach the surface of your floor.

These are all valid reasons why one may be interested in installing a laminate floor over foam board. But what are the risks of engaging in such a project? Let’s find out!

Concerns Associated with Installing Laminate Flooring Over Foam Board

To show you why it’s a bad idea to install a laminate floor over the foam board, here are some of the risks involved;

• The floor will feel too springy or spongy

Laminate floors are quite thin, and their structural strength heavily depends on the subfloor beneath. If you have foam board below your laminate floor, you will always feel like you are walking on a spring.

• The laminate floor won’t have enough support to accommodate load/weight

Foam board can only withstand a considerable amount of weight if it is spread across a reasonable area.

However, if a person weighing 500 pounds steps on a laminate floor with foam board underneath, the structure will be compromised. That is why a floor with laminate flooring over foam board feels spongy when stepped on.

Due to these two concerns, laminate flooring should never be used directly over foam board. The risk of failure is just too high.

Can You Bypass These Risks and Install Laminate Floor Correctly Over Foam Board?

In the DIY construction world, there are plenty of loopholes. Therefore, you can never say that a particular project is impossible.

There is one technique that can be used in the above scenario, which lowers the risks mentioned above.

It entails sandwiching the foam board between two layers of OSB before a laminate floor is installed. The idea here is to create a structurally sound surface for the laminate floor but to add insulation in between.

The installation process here should be as follows;

i. Start with a layer of OSB first

ii. Proceed to install your foam board

iii. Follow it up with another layer of OSB, preferably 3/8”

iv. Finish up with your laminate flooring

When you sandwich two layers of OSB, the floor will not feel springy because the structure will have been reinforced. If you want a much stronger structure, I recommend using some fasteners to hold the entire system.

Many people have attempted this technique, and it has turned out well. But there are some drawbacks.

For instance, the floor will be thicker because of two OSB layers and the foam board. The door movement can be affected. Also, eventually, the foam board will compress, but by then, it will have kept your floor warm for years.

Will a High-Density Rigid Foam Board Work with Laminate Flooring?

Because regular foam board isn’t structurally sound, can you replace it with rigid foam board? All insulation materials, including rigid foam board, won’t do well under the laminate floor.

That’s because even rigid foam board can yield when exposed to excess weight. It may last a bit longer than a standard foam board, but eventually, it will fail.

Therefore, replacing a regular foam board with a high-density version won’t solve much. You will only be delaying the inevitable.

How Long Can Laminate Floor Last Over Foam Board?

If you install the laminate floor directly over the foam board instead of using the OSB technique, I shared with you earlier.

It will only be a matter of time before the laminate floor breaks down. This can happen within a few weeks or months, depending on the location and level of traffic.

The foam board will wear down quickly in high-traffic areas such as living rooms. And that will result in the breakage of the laminate floor.

Even though you will have saved a lot of money during the initial installation phase, the repairs will be pretty costly and time-consuming.

Do Laminate Floor Manufacturers Approve Its Use Over Foam Board?

Manufacturers can tell you anything to convince you to buy their products. Therefore, don’t be surprised when they recommend the installation of laminate over foam board.

However, what you need to be more interested in is whether they offer a warranty for laminate installation over foam board. Therefore, if anything goes wrong, they will compensate you for any damages.

When Installing Laminate Floor Over Foam Board, Do You Need a Moisture Barrier?

Even if you were not going to install a foam board, laminate floors require a moisture barrier. The good news is that most of them come with a moisture barrier. So you don’t have to install one separately. But you should always confirm first.

Are There Other Alternatives Instead of Using Foam Board?

Foam board isn’t the only thing that can make your floors warm. If your biggest concern is a cold floor, laminate floor, on its own, can offer some insulation from concrete.

You can also invest in a carpet. By placing rugs in high-traffic areas, you can eliminate cold floors. Also, rugs add some element of beauty to your home.

Another option worth considering is installing a floor heater. A radiant floor heating system can keep your laminate floor warm at all times.

You can also check out space or cove heaters. There are many options out there that can make your floors warmer.

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