Floor covering cannot go down on just any surface and in most cases it is essential to prepare the floor beforehand. Preparation is widely believed to be even more important in floor laying than any other decorative process. If vinyl or cork tiles are used over a wooden floor, ridges and joins in the in sub floor will be shown and will cause the tiles or vinyl to wear in an uneven fashion. Even carpet wear will take place more on the ridges, so care must be taken that ridges and joints are not visible. Any material which is laid on a properly prepared floor will be more attractive and have a longer lifespan.
Ensure first of all that the structure of the floor is in good condition and able to support weight and type of covering with ease. If the floor feels rickety underfoot, there may be a defective joist, and then a professional builder should be called in for assistance to make the floor structurally stable.
If there is a feeling of sponginess, this could mean that there is an outbreak of woodworm or rot below the surface. Take up a board and check, and replace or treat the floor as and how required. Any damp in the floor must be cured or it will affect the newly installed covering. Loose boards must be fixed, and badly damaged boards must be replaced.
Most floors are already perfectly sound, but in some cases tacks are left behind from previous coverings. If this is the case, then the tacks should be prised up with a claw hammer. It is advised that a piece of card or thin wood is placed under its head to protect the floor.
The floor can now be covered with hardboard.
This may seem like unnecessary bother and expense, but it is not difficult and does not add much to the overall cost, and ensure an excellent result. Fitting hardboard will level off boards that are curing at the edges, it will cover small gaps between boards, and even mask minor damage. It also covers old stains and polishes.