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Laminate Kitchen Floor

Vinyl flooring can often be left in place beneath newly installed laminate floors. The experts explain when you should replace old laminate flooring.

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laminate flooring can be laid over old flooring

If you're installing a new laminate floor, you might have to remove the old floor--it just depends on its condition. Here, home improvement pro Scott Branscom shows how to determine whether vinyl flooring can be left in place under new laminate or if it needs to be taken out.

Most laminate flooring is made of three layers: the one that's walked on, followed by a layer with the pattern printed on it (usually a wood-grain look) and finally, the core layer, which is made from particle board. It's durable and resists scratching. But although wood-look planks are the most common laminate style, be careful placing laminate "wood" against real wood. If the laminate will be used in an area where it borders hardwood or parquet floors, the effect will be unattractive.

In deciding whether a vinyl floor must be removed, look at its edges and seams: if no edges are torn and all seams are still in tact, the vinyl can stay in place. No matter how hideous the pattern, it will be covered completely by the laminate. Do be sure to check that the existing floor is level before starting to install the new floor.

To remove the vinyl, use a razor-blade knife, a piece of PVC pipe and a floor scraper (A floor scraper with a long handle allows for more force to be leveraged behind it, which can save a lot in the way of back strain).

Get on your hands and knees and cut the flooring into 12-inch wide strips. Pry up an end of one of the strips and wrap it around a length of PVC pipe. Then simply roll the pipe along the length of the strip, wrapping the vinyl floor around it as you go.

For stubborn strips that can't be removed this way, use the floor scraper to pry them up. For stubborn spots, spray the area with a mixture of warm water and dishwashing detergent. Once all the vinyl is removed, sweep up any debris and you're ready to start installing the laminate according to the manufacturer's instructions.