Floating flooring has become increasingly popular among various types of flooring. The term “floating floor” does not refer to a specific type of flooring but is an installation method that can be used for various materials, including laminate, engineered hardwood, and luxury vinyl flooring. In this method, single boards (or in some cases tiles) are joined edge-to-edge to form a single mattress-like surface that easily sits over the underlying layer. This method is entirely different from the gluing or nailing method still used for ceramic and stone tiles and was previously standard for almost all flooring materials.
What is a floating floor?
Floating floors are a type of flooring installation in which the flooring material “floats” on the underlying surface and is not glued or nailed to it in any way.
Floating floor installation saves money and helps the installation be done more quickly due to its ease and simplicity, and it is a favorite method for installers. But an excellent floating floor installation requires a well-prepared subfloor, and in some cases, can feel hollow underfoot, which is more unpleasant than the strength of hardwood, studs, or bonded ceramic tiles.
Pros of floating flooring
- Damaged boards are easy to replace
- Easy to install
Cons of floating flooring
- It may reduce the value of the real estate
- It can cause a weird sensation and a loud noise
- It cannot be repainted
Floating floor samples
Three types of flooring are usually installed with floating floor methods:
An excellent example of a floating floor installation is laminate flooring, which rarely sticks to the floor. The floating method allows the floor to respond to changes in relative humidity by expanding and contracting without buckling. Flooring boards are generally joined along the edges and finished with a tab and groove modifier, often known as a “click lock”. The shape of interconnected grooves may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, as there are several proprietary methods of connection.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVF):
This flooring is sometimes referred to as laminate flooring. Luxury vinyl flooring (LVF) is usually bonded together like laminate flooring, although some types can be glued to the floor as well. Tiny tabs and grooves engineered in the boards allow them to lock together. Some forms of LVF are semi-flexible boards, while others are pretty rigid.
Engineered wood flooring:
Some engineered wood floors are nailed or stapled to the plywood floor. However, some brands are installed as floating floors. Engineered wood flooring is similar to laminate flooring with a decorative surface layer glued to the core of plywood or MDF.
Floating floor installation cost
The cost of this sort of installation varies considerably and depends more on the type of material and its quality. In general, professional installation of a floating floor is much cheaper than most glued or nailed floors (carpet is an exception to this) because it is much easier and faster to install.
Floating flooring is generally considered inferior to glued or nailed flooring, although this view is beginning to change as the quality of these products improves. Floating flooring still has little credibility in real estate value compared to premium flooring materials. Although, this is less true of luxury vinyl, which is generally superior to adhesive or vinyl sheets. Gradually, Luxury Vinyl Flooring could replace laminated plastic flooring as the preferred material for floating floor style.
Despite their somewhat stubborn reputation as a low-rise floor, floating flooring gives you a lot of flexibility in your design, as both laminate and luxury vinyl are available in hundreds of styles and colors. You can now find both materials in styles that closely mimic the structure of wood, stone, ceramics, or even metals.
Floating floor installation method
All three common floating floor materials have almost the same installation method. First, the installer prepares the bottom surface as smooth as possible. Any flexibility or unevenness of the floor is transferred to a relatively thin layer of the floor surface; Therefore, a smooth and solid substrate is essential for impeccable installation. Then, a substrate is applied to the floor, which is often a thin, flexible layer spread over the bottom floor. This layer helps reduce any bending on the floor surface and makes it soft and quiet underneath. Some types of floating flooring are built with flexible underlays attached to the boards. No additional substrate is required with these products.
In the next step, the floorboards are assembled. The work starts from one wall and continues to the opposite wall. All floating floors are typically installed with a small gap known as expansion gaps along the walls, which causes the floor to expand and shrink due to the changing humidity and seasonal temperature, preventing the floor from arching. Trim molds usually hide the small gaps around the perimeter of the room.
Because the materials are easy to place on the floor and are relatively thin, the floating floors feel somewhat hollow and sometimes attract attention by producing loud footsteps noises – especially laminates. You can minimize this problem by installing a good quality substrate.
Is floating flooring right for you?
Floating flooring can be a good choice if you are a business person or an economic person. Installation of these products is usually done at a lower price than flooring that uses adhesive or nails. While some floating floors look cheap in terms of appearance and function, luxury vinyl is a perfectly suitable material that does not jeopardize the real estate value.