Meaning of term "sub-floor" for luxury vinyl tile

Discussion in 'Vinyl Flooring Q&A' started by BryanS, Sep 29, 2017.

  1. BryanS

    BryanS Member

    We had an estimate for Mannington Adura tile with grout installed in our home. The salesman said they would pull the old sheet vinyl which is what we wanted, and all our discussions were based on them removing the old flooring. Our written estimate had an item called "sub-floor" which was explained as including this removal. The sub-floor item was $829 out of a $6893 job for 600 sq. foot.

    When they installed it they embossed over the old vinyl versus removing the it. It didn't take them very long so by the time I noticed they were done with the embossing. The installer said it would be just as good this way so I assumed they would just deduct the sub-floor costs from the job. Now we are being told sub-floor refers to them doing it either way, removing the floor or simply embossing it, and if they would have removed it there would have been another line item for the removal and disposal costs.

    My question is what does "sub-floor" normally refer to in regards to a LVT estimate, or does it vary from business to business? It still doesn't explain why, when the original plan was to remove the old vinyl, there was no line item for said removal, but I want to see if there is a standard meaning for it. Also, what would be the cost for embossing 600 sq. ft? Considering it only took them an hour or two to emboss it seems like quite a lot.

    Thanks for any information.
  2. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    sub floor as it is technically referred to is the actual structural plywood in your home. Underneath all your floor covering.

    Underlayment, is a special type of plywood we install for floor coverings, vinyl plank and the like because it can't be installed on "subfloor"

    Personally I charge 50 cents per square foot for embossing, sub floor supply and install is around 3 dollars. I would say to pay over 800 for embossments you got hosed.

    Is it over one layer of vinyl or two?
  3. Grant H

    Grant H I'd rather be patting my dog.

    I'd change one thing in Marks description. Depending on the age of the House/building and it's location "Ply" may not be the Sub-Floor. You may be looking at T & G timber or OSB of some kind.
    In a Timber framed construction the Sub-Floor is basically the structural floor attached to the joists onto which we as Flooring Installers apply our products. Generally a "Preparation" layer (ply, leveling compound, etc) then the finishing product (Vinyl, Tile, etc.)

    my, my that got wordy...:oops:
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  4. BryanS

    BryanS Member

    It's over a single layer of vinyl.

    Grant, are you saying they used the term sub-floor but were really referring to the preparation layer?

    At this point my wife and I feel the salesman was just agreeing with us when we asked if the old vinyl would be removed to get us to to buy. But the bid was never based upon them removing the old flooring. We're not unhappy with the job at all, just the fact their bidding method was a bit sketchy and influenced us choosing them over another bid.

    Thanks for the feedback guys.
  5. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    For 600sf, you may have been overcharged. From your description, your existing vinyl was installed on an underlayment panel that was installed on the subfloor of your home - 3 layers of material. Depending on your particular floor, I would have determined what was the best method of preparing your floor for the Adura.

    If all you had was a single layer of old vinyl, fully adhered to the existing underlayment, then embossing leveler may be all that is needed. I would have charged about $75.00 per hour, others might charge by the square foot.

    If the old vinyl was poorly adhered, but the underlayment was still in good condition, I would again charge 75.00 per hr to scrape up and use a Portland cement based patching compound to smooth the floor. More expensive than emboss leveling, but less time and material than complete removal and replacement.

    If the existing vinyl was curling or lifting, or the flooring was heavily damaged and the underlayment questionable, then I may have opted for complete removal of the old vinyl and underlayment (cut both in a grid pattern and pry up together), then install new underlayment. That process and materials could be what your $829.00 was based on.

    You have a right to an itemized estimate and itemized invoice. Ask for it. There is a huge difference in costs between emboss leveling the existing and removing the old vinyl and leveling and removing the old vinyl and underlayment/installing new underlayment. No way any of those options would cost the same as the others.
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  6. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    I agree first layer above joists is called subfloor, the next layer is usually called the substrate or the layer in which the finish floor will be applied. I prefer minimum two layers, then the flooring product chosen. It may need an underlayment grade plywood in which it can be a sacrificial layer if needing removal.
  7. BryanS

    BryanS Member


    That is what our belief was, the $829 'Sub-Floor' estimate was for removal of the old vinyl and prepping the floor for the new LVT. Our old floor was in good shape. The house is about 17 years old and it's the original vinyl - scuffed up but that was it. We just thought it was 'the right way' to do it by getting the old floor removed, so we asked them to bid it that way.

    After they were done I contacted them and asked when our bill would be credited for the sub-floor fee and was told the price is the same and the $829 was for the embossing materials and labor. The company rep I talked with said if they had needed to remove the old floor they would have added another charge for it. But considering we had agreed to have the floor removed beforehand I am at a loss as to why there is nothing in the estimate for it.
  8. I hate to tell you this but they voided your manufacturing warranty by installing over sheet vinyl with Adura.

    This is from the installation instructions for Adura:

    C. Existing Floor Coverings
    To achieve maximum product performance, Adura and Homestead should not be installed over existing resilient floor coverings.
    1. Ceramic tile should be made smooth by applying a cementitious overlay such as patching or leveling compound.

    2. In the rare cases that the removal of the existing resilient floor covering is not an option, the existing flooring must be covered with a high quality cement based Embossing Leveler. Existing sheet vinyl floors should not be heavily cushioned and consist of one layer only.
    Let me interpret what this means for you since I've been dealing with Mannington's warranties for 20+ years. The only time it wouldn't be an option to remove would be in the case of asbestos in the old flooring or in the old adhesive. By choosing to not remove the old vinyl as a matter of "convenience" or to save money on the install for the installer the installer has now assumed the bond warranty upon themselves. So, unless the old flooring or adhesive contained asbestos they did this wrong. The old sheet should have been removed and new underlayment put down - if needed - prior to installing your new floor. The reason for this is because the adhesive that should have been used is an acrylic and it may not cure properly when sandwiched between two non-porous materials (the old sheet vinyl and your new Adura). This can lead to movement in the new floor or plasticizer migration and re-emulsification of the adhesive which can cause the flooring to dis-bond over time. Now, all that being said you may never have a problem but if you do it's going to be on the installer / retailer to warrant it. Mannington will walk because they didn't follow the installation directions.
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  9. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    I didn't see Jims post but he's spot on. Maybe the cost doesn't concern some but I smell fish as well.

    So get the ducks in a row, make sure your details are correct and ask them how much they are going to credit your account.
  10. Grant H

    Grant H I'd rather be patting my dog.

    Gotta agree with the above posts. Myself ?, I hate laying flooring on flooring ( a finishing product on a finishing product). I much prefer to lay on a properly prepared "underlayment" or prepped concrete floor.
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  11. kwfloors

    kwfloors Fuzz on the brain Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    You told them you wanted it removed and they didn't so that should be less money as per their bid.
  12. Grant H

    Grant H I'd rather be patting my dog.

    Yep. Seems they quoted on one thing, did another and potentially voided the manufacturers warranty for there convenience.
    Is it "Written" in their quote to remove the old vinyl or was this a "Verbal" understanding ?.
  13. Incognito

    Incognito No more Mr. Nice Guy! I Support TFP Senior Member

    Yes, the way I would interpret YOUR desription of the contract is you paid for a demo of existing vinyl and PLYWOOD UNDERLAYMENT (not subfloor) + installation of new plywood. That's a pretty basic and standard procedure.

    They did a different, cheaper, non-warranteed installation. I'd be pissed.
  14. BryanS

    BryanS Member

    Everyone, thanks for the feedback and help. It is an instance where it appears the company is trying to charge us for work they didn't do. I looked at the work order agreement we signed and there was a line item that read 'Subfloor/Embossing" and subfloor was circled. Grant, that is the extent of the written portion of our agreement, there is no other mention of removing the flooring, just our specific request to have the old flooring removed when we talked to the salesman (who also happens to be the owner).

    At this time I am going to contact the owner and explain the issue clearly. If he won't budge I guess it's a BB complaint and small claims court.
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  15. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    Social media would be my go to tool if problem is not resolved.
  16. BryanS

    BryanS Member

    For anyone interested the company was willing to split the subfloor cost of $829 with me so I ended up paying $415. I figured they would have charged me around $200 for the embossing so I am out $215 more than I anticipated. But considering I didn't alienate the company and can rely on them for service issues moving forward I am satisfied.
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  17. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    that is at least a partial win.

    which is better than no win. Thanks for the update :)
  18. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    Wow, someone who closes on a question they asked, that's a win for us!
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  19. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    Mike man you are so right!!
    I am alwas so curious on the outcome, and so often disappointed.
  20. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    I think of those people, sales, baseball pitchers, they got skill!
    I believe I have some open Enders. Jim's probably got some good insight/theory on reasons people don't finish/close their topics being the webmaster, every once in a while he will email me on some questions I have.

    kW sometimes asks what the outcome was.

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