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4 Things to Know about Floating flooring options

Article reviewed by - Last Updated September 19, 2018


For the homeowner who is not a contractor the term floating floor can be misleading. A floating floor is not a magical apparatus that floats everyone above the floor. A floating floor is one that is not fastened to the floor beneath it.

It rests above whatever the substrate is, and instead it attaches to each other.

This means it can be put into place above tile flooring, existing wooden floors, or the basic plywood subfloor. This eases some of the construction of the flooring process, while also making some new problems unique to floating flooring. There are 4 things to know about floating flooring options that have to be kept in mind when making this choice.

1. Level it out

Prior to installation of the flooring there needs to be some prep work completed. This type of flooring requires preparation of the surface below your floating floor before being put into place. Any of the floating floor choices described are even less forgiving than floors that are attached directly to the floor below. This is because in click and lock systems, or tongue and groove glued systems, even a small bump in the floor can compromise the integrity of the floor as a whole. So make sure your subfloor is flat and level before doing anything.

2. Keep it out

The fact that the floor floats means that care has to be taken to make sure it has something good to rest on. This means taking care to ensure that there is an adequate moisture barrier in place, both to protect the material and help prevent expansion. Also due to the fact the floor is not fastened to the substrate it can shift and squeak when walked on. This can be fixed by placing a pad on the ground beneath the flooring. This pad provides some sound and thermal insulation, as well as giving the floor a slightly more forgiving base to rest on.

3. Measure it out

Floor being measured

For long term viability the floor must fit. Now you might think this means it must be the exact size of the room. However, floating floors have a unique issue, the issue is expansion. While the different types of flooring may appear to be individual pieces, once connected or laid in place they must be thought of as one giant piece. This large piece of flooring will expand and contract as depending on moisture levels and the temperature of the room.
This means you must create your floor with room to expand, and make sure that it can do so without binding up in places. A floating floor is made to fit under the molding of the floor with a gap between the edge of the floor and the wall. That molding is attached to the wall not the floor itself giving the floor the ability to expand.
The last thing to remember about fit is placing cabinets. In a traditional flooring situation you can and should put the floor down and then place the cabinetry on top of it. A floating floor is the opposite of this idea. The floor can buckle if the cabinetry blocks the ability of the floor to expand and contract. A floating floor must be made to fit around the cabinetry with the same expansion areas.

4. Choose the Material

The labor involved in the flooring materials available for a floating floor are a subset of those that are available for normal floors. Let’s take a quick look at the different flooring that you have to choose from.

Floating Hardwood Floor

Hardwood is one of the options contractors warn home owners against when it comes to getting a floating flooring option. There are a few reasons for this. First and foremost is that it expands and contracts far more than other options. Hardwood is very susceptible to the moisture of their surroundings. There are also very few options in the click and lock systems for hardwoods. Glue systems often are less than ideal as well, most expensive hardwoods do not glue together. With the lack of options and the expansion issues hardwood is not recommended for floating floors.

Engineered Hardwood Floor

Engineered hardwood is composed of layers of particle board, with a final layer of hardwood and can be made in a floating variety. This is a much better option when creating a floating floor. There are many systems available for engineered hardwood. These systems require no glue or clips in order to be fit together. There are click together systems where boards simply lock together and so are very good for the home owner looking to install a flooring system.

Floating Laminate Floor

Laminates, similar to engineered hardwood, laminates are composed of layers of particle board glued together. The difference is the final layer is plastic, the plastic can be printed with many different styles and appearances. This allows you many different options that can fit the style of your rooms. The top layer can be made to look like wood, bamboo, or ceramic tile. Laminate flooring also comes in the most popular click and lock systems.

Floating Tile Floor

Tile is another possibility that might be a surprise is tile. Traditionally tile is on the far side of the spectrum for the home owner looking to do it themselves. The requirements for spacing the tiles exactly, mixing the grout, the mortar, and getting it all correct before things go dry is difficult for the home owner to do correctly. Tile can’t normally be floated on its own, there is no way to connect the tiles to each other. Several companies have gotten around this by using plastic trays. The tiles sit into the trays and these trays click into each other. The installer simply adds grout between the tiles.

In Short:

Floating floor being installed

Floating floors can be a great option for a home owner. They can be placed over existing flooring and so are able to be installed without additional costs for removing the old floor. As long as careful consideration is given to the information we have just looked at your new flooring can be a success. A floating floor can give a room a new floor and your home a new look. One of the major benefits for a floating floor is that when your floor needs to be replaced in the future the demo time and cost is far less than with a traditional floor.

References
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floating_floor
http://www.flooring-professionals.com/why-floating-floors-fail/
http://www.ehow.com/about_5037757_floating-floor.html
http://www.floorfacts.com/floating-floors.asp
http://www.uptownfloors.com/installation/floating-general.htm