Floating Floor Basics

laying a floating floorIt sounds like something from a carousel. The words “floating floor” sound like you may need to get a grip on something that doesn’t move, just to make your way across it. Nothing so exotic is in place here.

A floating floor is one that is not attached directly to the room’s sub-floor. A layer of underlay is installed between the sub-floor and wood floor and then tongue-and-groove planks are glued together and laid on top of the underlay.

11 great reasons to choose floating floors

    • Because floating floors are not actually attached to the sub-floor, they are able to expand and contract with changing conditions. That means no gaps, no splitting and no cracking.
    • Very well suited for humid locations.
    • Non-allergenic.
    • Far less expensive than traditional hardwood installations.
    • The underlay used acts as a sound absorber and a moisture barrier.
    • Available in a large range of colors including domestic and more exotic species of hardwoods.
    • Long lasting floating floors will give you around 40-70 years of use before they need to be replaced, depending of course on conditions, if they were laid properly and the manufacturer who produced them.
    • Prefinished so you don’t have to sand, stain or varnish and the finish lasts for the lifetime of the product.
    • Easy to install.
    • Can be used on a range of surfaces including concrete slab, wood sub-floor and even over linoleum or tile.
    • Some floating floors can even be installed over radiant heat systems. Ask your manufacturer.

Board Width

Floating floors are manufactured in different board widths and it’s up to the consumer to choose which they prefer. For modern homes the preference is for narrower boards because they tend to look more formal and streamlined. For a rustic appearance, try wider boards.

DIY Installation

Provided you are capable of measuring, cutting and gluing one board to another, you can install a floating floor. You’ll save a significant amount of money on labor costs and derive a great sense of satisfaction. Be sure to consult the instructions before beginning.

When you take the measurements of the floor you intend to cover, add about another 5% to the square footage to allow for waste and for boards that may have been overlooked by the quality controllers at the factory. Also, if you plan to lay the flooring at a 45° angle, you should add around 15% more boards to your order, than what you think you’ll need. This will account for the waste that occurs with the extra cutting.

As for what tools you’ll need, the requirements are fairly basic and any self-respecting DIY’er should probably already have them. A hammer, jig saw, combination square, miter saw, table saw and pull bar are essentials. Some wood shims and a tapping block will complete your tool collection for floating floor installation.


There are different grades of floating floor starting with primary, then second and third grade. Ask your retailer or manufacturer for information on the kinds of elements that are compromised in a lower grade, such as knots, color variation and pinholes. The cost will be lower but you may not be happy to choose a lesser quality product.

Floating floors offer solutions to quite a few flooring issues and can be the ideal choice for remodels as well as new constructions.

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