What is a floating floor? I get this question often from clients because someone has told them they should get it. But, they don’t understand what it is to float.
Technically, a floating floor means that it is “floating” above the floor below it and is not directly secured to the floor (ie no nails or glue). Instead, it is clamped or secured around the edges of the room: the base molding/shoe molding and transitions. This is often used if you are going over an existing floor or concrete; More on this later. Now, because the floor is floated and not secured to the floor, there tends to be a little more movement in the floor; This is especially seen and heard on laminate flooring and is more noticeable if not installed correctly.
Given the definition, there many types of floating floors As you will see below, every time someone tells me they want or think they need a floating floor, I need to dig a little deeper to make sure I understand their wants and needs because there are many types of floating floors. (Also, sometimes someone tells me they need a floating floor and when I get to their house I find they don’t need a floating floor.)
1. laminate flooring -Laminate floors are floating floors. The laminate is fake, it looks like hardwood but it’s not, it’s a digital image of hardwood and it clicks. (There are also tile-like versions.) One advantage of laminate is that it’s less expensive than hardwood, both in terms of material and labor, and can often be laid over existing flooring without breaking it. so this saves more money on labor.
two. Some engineered hardwoods are floating floors. Hardwoods can be installed 3 ways: 1) nailed (if plywood is there), 2) glued (designed only), and 3) floated (designed only). Some hardwoods are specially made to snap into place just like laminate (easier for DIYers, and some can be installed over radiant heat). You click them into place and once they click they lock into place. The other option for engineered hardwood that cannot be clicked is to glue the joints of the hardwood. Either way, both options require a subfloor under the hardwood just like you would use for a laminate.
3. Cork is a floating floor.. They come in interlocking pieces (usually 1 ft. x 3 ft.) and are joined together like laminate.
Four. Some vinyls are floating floors (but most are not). Vinyl is usually glued down, but some of the newer fiber flooring that has some fiberglass and extra foot cushioning can be glued down or floated. If they are floated, they simply rest on the floor and are secured along the base molding or cove along walls and cabinets.
So after all that, why would anyone want a floating floor? Here are some of the reasons:
1. They want to save money by not breaking the floor. Instead, they just want to go above it.
2. They have asbestos tiles on the floor and it would be dangerous/illegal to remove (or too expensive to have a removal company come in and remove them professionally).
3. Have a floor where glue will not adhere well (eg, epoxy floor or floor with many ridges and a non-flat surface).
4. They are putting hardwood on top of radiant heat (and therefore need to avoid adhesives and nails).
Here are some reasons customers mistakenly THINK they need a floating floor.
1. Do not have plywood or go over a cement subfloor. This is the most common area of confusion. While floating floors will definitely work over concrete, you don’t have to make a floating floor. You can, but you also have the option of making an engineered hardwood and gluing it down. So make sure you understand your goals and budget before you rule out options.
2. Is below ground level/on a foundation. Floating floors can work in the basement, but other floors can work too, so this is where you need to understand the purpose of the room, moisture issues, and budget.
3. There is a moisture problem. Well, if there is a moisture problem, this should be a problem. be addressed first. Or, if you’re not going to make any changes, choose the right flooring that works with moisture. Hardwood, laminate, and cork are not a problem if you have a moisture problem. Many customers mistakenly believe that laminate is waterproof, and I have news for you…it is not. It’s made with hardwood chips, so if you’re worried about hardwood and moisture, the same goes for laminate. If there is a moisture problem, consider vinyl or tile.
4. They have sloping or uneven floors. Hard surfaces generally don’t work well on uneven floors, regardless of whether it’s wood, laminate, or tile. it’s best to level them first, but floor preparation will cost you more money. If budget is a concern with leveling, consider a more flexible surface like vinyl, carpet, or rubber.
I know that there are many issues to consider and I suppose that is why it is better to consult a professional. Everyone’s situation and budget is different. Often I will narrow down to the 2 or 3 options that might work for my clients and price them and then let them decide what works best for their needs and budget. I will always add my 2 cents (or sometimes even a nickel).