A shining concrete subfloor installed at a house

Six Stunning Types Of Subfloor Materials That You Must Know

July 5, 2022
 |  By: 
Improvix Hardwood Flooring

The subfloor is the layer of flooring that lies beneath the finished floor. Its motive is to provide a solid and level base for the final product, whether carpet, tile, or hardwood floors.

When it comes to subfloors, there are many different options available. Some are more appropriate than others for various areas and reasons, so it's important to choose one that works well and looks good too! Here we go with a quick rundown of some of the most common types.

Base Surface For The Subflooring

The base surface of your subfloor can be made of various materials, depending on the type of construction you have chosen. The base surface is important as it forms an even foundation for your flooring system to rest on and provides drainage in case water gets under the material.

Various types are available, but they all serve the same purpose: keeping moisture from seeping through your home's walls or floors.

It also works as a vapor barrier that prevents condensation from accumulating within your home's walls during the cold winter when air from outside touches the surfaces (this can cause damage).

The most popular choices are a plywood subfloor, large oriented particle panel (LOP) subfloors, concrete slab, and plastic sheeting substrates. These options will differ depending on what type of home improvement project you're working on.

Types Of Sub-Flooring Materials For The Base Surfaces

There are many subfloor materials, each with pros and cons. The type you choose will depend on your budget, the size of your house, and how much noise you want to cause. Today, we will discuss some common options: plywood subfloors, oriented strand board (OSB), particleboard subfloors, concrete floors, cementitious wood fiber underlayment, and another one which is a bonus type that might catch your interest. Stay with the article to know the bonus one type of subflooring.

Plywood Subflooring

A human hand setting up the plywood subflooring on a base surface

Plywood subflooring is a good choice for hardwood or wood flooring. This is strong, durable, easy to install, affordable, and available in different thicknesses and grades. It is created by pressing and heating a thin layer of wood veneer to form a structure.

The first type of plywood flooring is known as "select grade." This type of plywood quality depends on the number of plies (layers) used during manufacturing. A two-ply layer is considered low-end, while five-plies or more are high-quality premium products for use in areas where moisture might be an issue.

Three different grades can be found when shopping for plywood:

Select Grade – This grade has fewer imperfections like knots than the standard grade; however, it will still have some defects, so you should consider sanding or treating those areas before installation if possible

Standard Grade – This grade has more knots. But its cost remains fairly affordable compared to other options available today. Due to increased efficiency during production processes since the WWII era up until the present day, standards have become widely accepted worldwide. It is highly accepted by consumers who demand higher quality but still prefer lower prices than what could be achieved if such stringent rules were applied universally across all industries involved in making furniture items such as cabinets, tables, chairs, desks, etc.

The OSB System (Oriented Strand Board)

Oriented strand board (OSB) is a type of engineered solid wood, meaning it was produced using a chemical or mechanical process rather than being harvested from the forest. Because it's engineered, OSB has very consistent dimensions and properties throughout the sheet.

OSB is made of wood chips and fibers glued together in layers under pressure to create a solid unit. It's an excellent choice for flooring installations because it's durable and easy to work with. It can also be used as an underlayment for laminate flooring. But we do not recommend using OSB as your subfloor material for hardwood floors or vinyl plank because the density is too high for those types of floors.

Drawbacks Of OBS Subflooring

It's less expensive than plywood but more expensive than plywood laminates like Pergo and other manufactured materials. If you're building with OSB, make sure you buy boards designed specifically for residential construction (as opposed to industrial use).

Since they're made from wood chippings and glue instead of solid pieces of lumber like plywood, sheets are cut from trees on site. So they won't warp over time like lumber will do under stressful conditions.

Such as moisture content changes occurring throughout any given year due to climate changes. This affects the amount of rainfall there may be during certain times throughout each season when weather patterns frequently change, causing precipitation levels to vary month to month.

Particleboard Subflooring

Particleboard is made from wood fibers, glue, resin, and wax. It's a simple product that is easily cut and nailed into place.

A flooring professional installing a particleboard subfloor

The particleboard subfloor is strong but not very durable compared to other subfloors, such as cement backer boards or plywood boards.

In many homes that have been remodeled, there are wood plank subfloors covered with particleboard or hardboard underlayment to smooth out the differences between the boards and make a flat surface for carpet and vinyl flooring.

Concrete Subfloor

Concrete subfloors or concrete subflooring are the most durable but also the heaviest, most expensive, and hardest to install.

A shining concrete subfloor installed at a house

Concrete floors are known for being stable and forgiving – meaning that your floor won't suffer damage if you accidentally or unintentionally drop something heavy on it, like a hammer or a steel pipe wrench.

It's also easy to cut through with an angle grinder when needed. You can also install tile and stone flooring over the concrete slabs.

Cementitious Wood Fiber Subfloor

Cementitious wood fiber subflooring is a great option for those who want to minimize the amount of waste in their construction project. It's made from recycled wood chips treated with chemicals, making them durable enough for use as subflooring.

Cementitious wood fiber subflooring is suitable for new construction or renovation projects on top of concrete, plywood, OSB, or existing floors.

You can choose between regular and premium grades depending on your needs (the premium grade will be more expensive).

The subfloor offers a continuous, supporting surface well over floor joists in wooden flooring.

Mixed Subflooring System

In certain circumstances, a concrete slab is combined with plywood or OSB pieces to form a composite subflooring.

One technique is attaching 2" sleepers to the concrete and covering them with plywood subflooring. Another option is a floating subfloor constructed of tongue-and-groove OSB panels bonded to a primary layer of plastics or rigid foam insulation.

This foundation is a moisture barrier against concrete dampness. The OSB acts as flat flooring ready for finishing layers.

Tips For Selecting Your Correct Subfloor Material


Before you buy, check the subfloor. It's important to look at the existing structure before you decide on a type of subflooring material.

If nails, staples, or glue are holding down the existing flooring, it's best to leave them alone and not try to remove them.

This is especially true if you're planning on installing a hardwood floor—you don't want to cause any damage by prying up boards with too much force.


Plywood subflooring is common for most floors, including carpet and tile. Still, it can also be utilized with other materials like vinyl sheets or linoleum if desired (note: these materials need an additional layer called "underlayment" between plywood and the finished surface).

In addition, plywood provides some extra soundproofing properties. This property makes it ideal for homes near busy streets or highways where there may be plenty of noise pollution through open windows or doors throughout certain parts during high traffic hours. Such as rush hour traffic jams along nearby freeways/highways.

Additionally, plywood provides added strength against earthquakes, so if this kind has been installed correctly, your house should still stay standing even after experiencing major tremors from nearby earthquakes happening closer than usual within city limits."


We hope you enjoyed this article on the different types of subflooring. As you can see, many options are available to homeowners who want to install new floors in their homes or repair old ones. The most important thing is choosing a material that will last and be easy for you to work with. Once you have figured out the best choice for your base surface, it's time to get started!

Suppose you are still confused about choosing the right subflooring material from the abovementioned types. In that case, we also have a solution to your problem! Our professional team at Improvix Hardwood Flooring can help you in this aspect.

Improvix Hardwood Flooring has been serving its customers for a long time which is about 12 years. We have one of the best flooring services in the Chicago land area. Our technicians not only explain the flooring process but also will take time to assess the floor condition to provide you with the best customer service. We consider our customers as our main priority.

We've brought that beauty to life through our unique wood flooring and restoration services. We have come with a great team of specialists knowledgeable about wood and can help you design a floor that fits your demands and aesthetics. Colors, styles, and textures are available in our service.

You can reach us by calling (773) 345-9719. Our team is always there to assist you happily.