Facts About Floating Floors
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Facts About Floating Floors

This article list some advantages and disadvantages to floating flooring systems as opposed to the traditional full thickness hardwood floors, vinyl, or tile. There are several types of floating floors made from wood, vinyl, or even stone. Depending on the type of room and the amount of expected wear, floating floors made be a good option for you as they are easily installed by the do it yourselfer. These floors are not perfect as you will see as they can be damaged by water, may be difficult to repair, and

Traditional floors have been installed by nailing, gluing, or cementing finished flooring materials to a subfloor or underlayment. With modern manufacturing practices, engineered flooring materials have been developed that can withstand everyday wear and tear while maintaining their structural integrity and appearance. While floating floors are relatively new, they can be easily installed by the homeowner. A floating floor is not attached to the subfloor which allows it to "float" on the surface below allowing it to contract and expand independently; technically speaking wall-to-wall carpeting is a floating floor. Floating floors are also more stable than dimensional materials and they can be installed over concrete slabs with the use of any type of adhesive or nailers.

Traditional vs. Floating Flooring Installation

Traditional flooring products like tongue and groove pine or hardwood, ceramic tile, quarry tile such as marble and slate, linoleum, and vinyl sheet or adhesive-backed tiles are attached directly to the subfloor with nails or staples as with wood flooring,

In the case of hardwood the flooring is nailed or stapled to the wood subfloors. Wood flooring can be installed over concrete floors using an adhesive. Ceramic, granite or slate flooring tiles are attached to concrete subfloors or cement board using an adhesive or thin set mortar mix. Vinyl or linoleum can be glued directly to concrete subfloors or onto underlayment stapled to wood subfloors.

Laminate and engineered wood flooring is mainly installed as a floating floor. Some types of sheet vinyl flooring is installed as floating floors where the perimeter is glued down to the subfloor and the field is left to float. Thin cut stone can also be fabricated into interlocking sections and installed as a floating floor.

Laminate and engineered wood flooring are pieces of material that can be glued or snapped together to form a continuous flooring surface. Floating floors are well-suited to most residential where there is light to moderate foot traffic.

Gluing the edge of a floating wood floor

Newer types of vinyl floating floors are comprised of vinyl "planks" or strips that adhere to one another by way of an adhesive strip. The planks have a hal-lap edge where the underside of the top piece sticks to the surface of the bottom piece after a paper covering is removed, similar to older adhesive tile floors.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Floating Floors


Floating floors are easier to install than flooring material that requires some adhesives or mechanical fasteners.

Floating floors can hide some minor imperfections in the subfloor.

Floating floors can be installed over existing flooring as long as there are no defects in the floor surface. Low spots or holes can be filled in with thin set mortar.

Thin materials can be installed on staircase treads without modifying the stair treads prior to installation. Typically the flooring must be glued to the surface of the stair tread.

Since floating floors can be installed by the homeowner, more money can be spent on the materials since you will save money on the installation.

The factory applied finish is very durable.


Floating floors have restrictions on the area they can cover; however in most instances the room dimensions will not exceed the manufacturer’s specifications.

Floating floors may require a transition to go between rooms or from a room to hallway. Specially designed moldings or transition strips may need to be installed at door or room openings.

Since the flooring is not secured to the subfloor, some people may complain about the hollow sound the floor makes, especially when walked on wearing shoes. Some underlayment materials can be used to reduce or eliminate this sound.

Wood flooring of this type can be damaged easily with water as the plywood substrate can warp or delaminate if it gets wet.

The factory finish is difficult to repair if it gets gouged or scratched.

Individual pieces may be difficult to remove and replace when damaged.

Most floating floors require an underlayment between the floamay not be installed in very large rooms.ting floor and the subfloor.

Most floating floors require a gap between the wall and the edge of the flooring which must be covered by baseboard, shoe molding, or some other type of molding.

Floating wood floors cannot be sanded and refinished like dimensional wood flooring since most finish layers are under ¼-inch in thickness.

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