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Plastic layer between Pergo XP and hardwood?

If we install Pergo XP (underlayment is attached) over a hardwood floor, I thought a layer of plastic would help protect the hardwood for possible future use (since laminate isn't waterproof.)   I think I read that plastic shouldn't be used over a wood floor, but rather over a cement floor.   Would a plastic layer hurt either the old hardwood or the new laminate?  (The house is one level with a crawl space.)

Does it matter if the Pergo planks are installed in the same direction as the hardwood planks?

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Posted 2012-09-06T10:13:18+0000  by HWiley HWiley

Hi there HWiley,


Thanks for joining the community!~


While your project is certainly a "do-able" one, I must admit that I'm a bit perplexed by the reason for installing laminate over your hardwood floor. Is this to gain height to the flooring by chance, or just to renew the look. If it happens to be the latter, I would highly suggest that you read up on refinishing hardwood flooring instead. The hardwood will be much more durable in the long run and is able to be refinished to suit your tastes.


Either way, should you decide to continue with the laminate installation, I would recommend against using the vapor barrier as well. It's not actually there to protect the subflooring from water coming from above, but rather from below. This is why it's done on concrete subflooring, as moisture wicking can be a common occurrence. Moisture from above needs to be controlled by the homeowner and addressed as soon as possible. The problem you'll run into is that your wood will have no room to breathe with the plastic covering it and I your chances of having it buckle are more likely. Your padding may also introduce the same issue, so please contact the manufacturer of your laminate flooring and make sure that they will cover your floor over a hardwood substrate. 

As for the matter of the direction, I would have them run perpendicular if possible. Problem being that you may inadvertently line up the seams of your laminate with a seam running in your hardwood and create a weakspot in the flooring.


Hope this helps answer your question!~ = )

Posted 2012-09-06T14:53:41+0000  by Jay_HD_CHI

Well, there's more to the story.   We didn't yet purchase the laminate, but had chosen a color we liked.  The hardwood floors have been covered with carpeting for the life of the house (over 50 years.)   Instead of buying new carpet again, it seemed that a laminate floor would be easier to care for.   I'd heard that hardwood is difficult to take care of, so I figured it could be covered with laminate.  But I don't want to damage the hardwood in case someone may want to use it in the future.  (Damage ex: I don't want to use any flooring that would be glued to the hardwood, etc.)  Then I discovered vinyl planks, which seem better in that they are waterproof (I'm concerned about spills), and can also be installed as a floating floor.    Vinyl sounded like the best way to go, but the color choices are fewer and the surface texture seems to have ridges that would make it harder to clean (?)  The original hardwood , although never used, has some stains that must have gone through the carpet.   And the hardwood color is too dark.   It seems easier to choose a color for laminate, and I don't know what's involved in lightening the old hardwood color.    I'm thinking that working on the old hardwood would be time consuming, but once it's done would it then require little or no maintenance?    Can it be protected in a way to make it waterproof?  

Thank you much!

Posted 2012-09-07T08:26:26+0000  by HWiley

Thanks for the follow up HWiley,


That does clear up the questions I had = )


The vinyl plank flooring you were looking at, the Allure by TrafficMaster, is indeed a good floor to help protect against water. However, with this type of flooring, I'd still worry that you'd find yourself in a similar situation as with the vapor barrier. Because there would be no padding or any other type of substrate between the hardwood and the vinyl, the chances for the flooring to breathe are again minimal. However, as long as the floor is level and free of any damaged areas, it is an approved substrate as far as the Allure product goes.


Your original hardwood can't be made "waterproof," but rather "water-resistant" and this comes into play when you cover the hardwood in polyurethane. This will cause most spills to simply bead on top of the flooring and allow for easy clean up.


The process of getting to a lighter color and stain-free finish would be that of re-finishing the hardwood. Is it the easiest process in the world? No, but it is certainly do-able. Fellow community expert Tangelo posted a great tutorial on how he went about re-finishing his hardwood floors in the topic Hardwood Floors. You can follow along with his steps or even partner up with your local store's flooring specialists to have an estimate done on professional refinishing.


Hardwoods are relatively low-maintenance as far as day-to-day cleaning is concerned, but they may require a fresh coat of urethane in the future depending on the traffic in the house. Aside from that, you would use mainly the same cleaners that you would with laminate to care for them, a great example being the Bruce No-Wax Hardwood Floor Cleaner.


Does that perhaps help the decision making process? = )

Posted 2012-09-07T14:33:10+0000  by Jay_HD_CHI

Hello again


Tangelo talked about the sanding process, and then polyurethane.   I don't think he described selecting and using a stain.  (And that would happen after the sanding it seems.)   The sanding removes all previous stain color?  


What you said about the vinyl planks not allowing the hardwood to breathe is something I didn't think of.   Good info.


So it's laminate, or learn enough about hardwood to consider using it!   



Posted 2012-09-08T09:10:02+0000  by HWiley

Hi there :smileyhappy:


Jay is out of the office today, but until he gets back, let me try to answer your sanding- stain question...


YES. Refinishing hardwood floors would entail sanding it until all of the previously applied finish is removed. Refinishers typically use three different grades of sanding paper, starting with very coarse to cut thru the surface poly and fine(r) grades to sand the exposed bare wood and prep for the new finish.


Comment on the laminate vs. hardwood….


My first choice would be refinishing hardwood floors. People tend to think that laminates are more “water resistant” than hardwood  floors, that’s not necessarily the case. Depending on the laminate (quality), some may or may not be more resistant to water pet use etc. It’s all about  how they click together…:smileyhappy: from personal experience some inexpensive laminates will look great for the first couple years ,but after some moderate use you will start noticing that gaps in between the planks will start to get wider and more noticeable ...These gaps are typically result of liquid intrusion...In other words water will not affect the immediate surface of the laminate but it will affect the non laminated parts of the planks…


Nowadays there are hardwood coatings available that are specifically designed for demands of heavy traffic (use).

I would look into Bona’s commercial line of products, specifically Bona Traffic.

 bona traffic.JPG

Something else… you don’t have to stain (color) your hardwood, you can apply poly (clear coat) right on top of the unstained wood for the light natural finish.

In my opinion there’s nothing that can beat freshly refinished hardwood floors…and when they are finished with the right coating …than it’s really a no brainer. That’s just my opinion.


Hope this helps,



Posted 2012-09-10T15:24:38+0000  by George_HD_CHI

I haven't been online for a long time and just saw your info now!   


When hardwood is refinished, is it more of a guessing game about what the final color will be?   With laminate samples it seems like what you see is what you'll get.    Would there come a time, when refinishing the hardwood, that you'd say "uh-oh, what color did I get here?"

Posted 2012-09-17T05:37:25+0000  by HWiley

P.S.   Another possibility - if we do the first couple of rooms, they could be where we'd stop.  Or if we like it a lot, maybe we could continue it to more rooms.   The first rooms have existing hardwood, and the rest of the house doesn't.  So either we'd need to do it all in the same laminate or refinish the existing hardwood and then need to install hardwood in the remaining rooms.   (Until now, all of the rooms have had carpet.)

Posted 2012-09-17T05:43:23+0000  by HWiley

Another P.S.


We're used to carpet having marks from furniture placement.    How are hardwood and laminate affected by furniture?   Our heaviest piece may be our piano.    When furniture is rearranged, will there be marks on the flooring?  Should all furniture sit on something to protect the flooring?

Posted 2012-09-17T05:53:24+0000  by HWiley

Hey HWiley,


Having marks on soft material like carpet or vinyl is a different story versus laminate or hardwoods...since the materials in and of itself is hard. 


Even with that in mind, you still can put protective felt pads underneath all heavy items to ensure no scratching will occur in those areas. Click on the image below to get started protecting your floors...

Felt Pads


Hope this has helped you out,


Posted 2012-09-17T16:04:40+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL

Hi HWiley,


Is it more of the guessing game with the stain color...well it depends on who is doing the job :)


Just kidding:smileylol:…no not really …on oak …and that’s what you probably have down…stain colors are pretty consistent to the charts/samples you will find in the store…

Biggest mistake novices make with stain is that they over apply it recommendation is to use applicator and  to do it on a nice sunny day where you can maintain consistency …

Also old floors are going to stain shade darker than new ones…old wood sucks more stain in than new wood does ….

Keep that in mind if you’re using dark stain or trying colors out on a new piece of unfinished flooring …:smileywink:


Hope this helps,



Posted 2012-09-17T20:26:04+0000  by George_HD_CHI
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