When remodeling your home, there are many flooring options to choose from. Many people are moving away from traditional flooring options and trying technologically advanced options. Floating floors are a visually stunning, easy to install, and affordable flooring option for your next renovation project.

Here we will discuss everything about floating floors, including what they are, the pros and cons, and how to install them.


WHAT IS A FLOATING FLOOR?

floating floor

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A floating floor isn’t actually a flooring type at all. Instead, it is a method used to install certain flooring types. These floors are flooring materials that are positioned on top of a wooden subfloor. What makes this flooring unique is, that unlike traditional flooring types, they are easy to install and care for.

Floating floor types come in standardized pieces that, in most cases, snap or lock together very much like puzzle pieces. Floating floors are a favorite among DIY home renovators. There are five primary types of floating options for floors. Each of the types come in a variety of colors, styles, and patterns.

THREE PRIMARY TYPES OF FLOATING FLOORS

Laminate Flooring

Laminate Flooring

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Laminate flooring is a layered synthetic wood floating floor type that fits together using a tongue-and-groove method for easy installation. Laminate flooring comes in many styles, colors, and patterns. The composition of laminate flooring is pressed layers of wood with printed wood graphics on the outer layer.

LUXURY VINYL FLOORING (LVF)

vinyl flooring

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Luxury vinyl flooring looks very similar to natural flooring, except it’s not the real thing. The photo-realistic appearance of LVF makes it an excellent alternative to real stone, ceramic, marble, or wood. LVF is made from 100% vinyl or can be mixed with limestone for a more authentic visual and textural impact.

ENGINEERED WOOD FLOORING

brown wooden floor

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Engineered wood flooring simulates hardwood flooring, but the pieces are constructed of plywood under layers and a hardwood top layer. Because of its ability to shift with humidity and temperatures in a room, engineered wood flooring is often preferred over solid hardwood floors for rooms that may have exposure to moisture.

Although there are many options for floating floors, there are limitations. Some of the most popular traditional flooring methods are not the easy-to-install floating option. Flooring types that are not included in the floating category are:

 

  • Solid hardwood flooring
  • Most ceramic and/or porcelain tiles
  • Carpet flooring

Pros & Cons

Although the installation of the floating floor is becoming more popular by the day, there are both pros and cons to this flooring type. Here we will explore all the pros and cons that come with floating floors.

PROS

ADAPTS TO YOUR SPACE

Floating floors adapt to your space by responding to the temperature and humidity conditions. The floors expand and contract based on these conditions.

DIY INSTALLATION AND REMOVAL

The reason so many people are switching to the floating option for floors is that it is much easier to install than traditional flooring. Solid hardwood flooring requires machinery and nails for a permanent installation to the floor. Most ceramic and porcelain tiles use grout and other permanent fixatives that aren’t always easy to work with.

DIY INSTALLATION AND REMOVAL

Floating floor installation is comparatively much easier and requires only a minimal amount of tooling. Likewise, these floors are easier to remove than standard flooring. Even older laminate floors that used glue to attach the separate pieces are much easier to tear out than alternative flooring options.

COST-EFFECTIVE

Floating floors are a more immediately cost-effective option than other flooring types. Materials are cheaper to buy which is a strong selling point in many renovation projects.

 

CONS

REDUCED FLOORING QUALITY

The quality of floating floors varies dramatically. There are many low-quality options on the market. When pricing flooring, it is necessary to consider durability to ensure you are getting a good deal. Cheaper immediate costs for a low-quality product might mean that you are replacing the flooring in a relatively short timeframe, thus it becomes more expensive.

THINNER FLOORING

Floating floors are always thinner than their solid flooring counterparts. This can create a slew of unforeseen issues with the flooring. Thinner floors are not suitable for areas that receive excessive foot traffic. Sounds, including a hollow echo, might come from a floor of this construction. Additionally, the resale value of homes is often decreased in homes with this type of floor as opposed to solid floors options.

WARPING AND BUCKLING

Floating floors are sensitive to moisture. Do not use a wet mop on any floating floor type. This is strongly discouraged. Exposure to excessive moisture can cause warping and buckling in the flooring. Floating floors may also warp or buckle as the result of improper installation, making it a somewhat risky investment for DIY renovators.

HOW TO INSTALL

As mentioned, installing this flooring is typically easier than installing other types of flooring, making it a popular choice for renovation projects.

INSTALLATION PREP

Floating prep

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First, determine the total area of the space before installing the new floating floor. To calculate the area, measure the length of the room from wall to wall in each direction. Multiply these measurements to get the area of the space.

 

Once you have the square footage of the area calculated, inspect the subfloor of the room. If the subfloor or existing floor in the room is concrete, you will need to install a plywood or oriented strand board base onto the concrete before installing the new flooring type. Installing laminate, LVC, or engineered wood floors directly onto concrete will increase the chance of warping or buckling of the floor.

BUY THE MATERIALS

man painting on piece of wood

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With your room’s total area in mind, buy the floating floor material, foam base, and when necessary, the wood for the subfloor. Keep in mind you will need to buy more of the flooring type than the total area of the room. The packaging for the flooring will give the total floor coverage, but you will probably use more of the flooring than the area of the room.

ALLOW MATERIALS TO SETTLE

man working on floor

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Once you get the flooring material and foam base home, take it out of the packaging in the room you will install it in. Make sure all materials are lying flat. Allow the supplies to settle to the room temperature and humidity for several days before starting the project.

Once you have a solid subfloor to build upon, take a level and inspect the room. If there are any significant gaps, use a patching agent to level out the flooring. Sand out any rough spots on the flooring to create a smooth base to install your chosen flooring.

 

To begin installation, begin tacking the foam base down from the right-hand side of the room. Cover the space entirely from wall to wall. Once the foam is tacked or stapled to the subfloor, tape the strips of foam together to create one solid foam covering.

 

Next, decide how you want to place the flooring. Consider how the flooring will look if placed vertically, horizontally, or diagonally in the room. The entire room can appear differently based on how the pieces are set. Decide what you like best. Try to use pieces from at least three different packages of flooring at once to mix up the patterns printed on the floor. This will provide a more organic flow to the floor’s appearance.

 

Beginning on the right-hand side of the wall farthest away from the door, begin inserting 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch spacers along the wall. Pre-made spacers are available, or you may make them out of scrap wood. Make sure the spacers are consistent in size. Using spacers is a crucial step in the installation. The floors will shift, and they need room to do this.

 

After the spacers are in place, set the first piece of flooring on the right side of the room with the tongue facing the wall. Fit the second piece into the first by inserting the tongue into the first piece’s grooves. Use a hammer and buffering block to tap any stubborn flooring pieces in gently. It’s important that all pieces fit together snugly.

 

Continue across the row until you reach the adjacent wall. Trim the final piece so it fits in the space. Be careful when using any power tools.

TIPS

After each row is complete, stand back and make sure it is sitting straight in the space. Overlooking this step can create visual disturbances in the appearance of the floor for years to come. Make sure the flooring is straight!

 

This project is easiest when there aren’t any significant door jambs or built-in cabinetry to contend with. If there are any problematic angles or large structures on the floor, it’s helpful to create a template out of cardboard of the shape of the obstruction. Use the cardboard template to help you cut the flooring pieces to achieve the perfect cuts.

FINISHING UP

Once the area is completely covered, use molding for any gaps and install the baseboards.

Enjoy your new beautiful floor.

CONCLUSION

Remodeling a space with floating floors is a growing trend for great reasons. They come in a variety of styles to match any aesthetic and are affordably priced. Ease of installation makes laminate, luxury vinyl flooring, and engineered wood flooring a great option for those who want to skip expensive professional installation costs.

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