How to Install Hardwood Flooring—Without the Hassle

A floating floor is a hardwood floor installed by gluing the floor planks together instead of gluing or stapling them to the subfloor. Since a floating floor doesn’t need a specific type subfloor underneath it, it frees you up to install hardwood floors in areas where they previously weren’t an option. You can install them over vinyl or ceramic flooring, or in areas of high humidity where traditional hardwood floors have a tendency to warp and crack. If you’re looking for the look of these floors without the expensive costs of traditional wood flooring, installation challenges and limitations, then a floating hardwood floor is exactly what you’ve been searching for.

Floating Floor 101

A floating wood floor is installed in almost exactly the same way as a laminate or engineered wood floor. Constructed of a core layer of plywood or hardwood with layers of hardwood veneer as the “wear” (or top) layer, these planks are manufactured in tongue and groove style and are usually glued together over a layer of foam padding. If that sounds too challenging for you, new varieties of floating wood floor are now being manufactured that are “glueless” and can be clicked together upon installation. To make a long story short, a floating hardwood floor combines the easy installation of laminate flooring with the classic looks of hardwood flooring. That’s a combination that is very tough to beat.

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A Floating Floor Can Be Installed Just About Anywhere

Another benefit of a floating wood floor is that because they are glued together instead of to the subfloor, they can be installed in a bevy of areas where traditional hardwood floors weren’t an option. For starters, they can be installed over the top of other flooring materials (everything except for carpet), saving you the time and trouble of tearing out your original flooring. And because they are glued or clicked together instead of fastened to the floor itself, the entire floor expands as one—instead of as individual planks. This means they can be installed in areas of high humidity (i.e. basements) where hardwood flooring previously wasn’t allowed.

Floating Floors Can Be Refinished

One of the biggest reasons to choose a floating wood floor over laminate flooring is that it can be refinished several times, just like a traditional hardwood floor. Because of this, a floating wood floor isn’t a short-term flooring option. If installed correctly and taken care of properly, a floating hardwood floor can last 40 to 80 years, depending on the thickness of the wear layer of hardwood veneer.

A Few Things to Consider

While these floors have a tremendous upside, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that your new floor won’t let you down in the years to come. First of all, fight the temptation to go cheap and purchase cut-rate flooring. The cheaper the flooring, the cheaper the wear layer, and the shorter your new floor’s lifespan is going to be. Spending a little extra for a thicker wear layer is worth every penny when it comes to increasing the lifespan of your new floating hardwood floor. Also, keep in mind that one of the main benefits of these floors can also be their downfall. Be sure to leave room for expansion when you install your flooring. If you cut your new floor to fit, the entire surface is almost guaranteed to buckle and heave in time. By leaving a small space between your flooring and the walls and then covering that space with baseboard or other trim, you can rest easy knowing your floating floor will last you for years to come.

If you’re interested in installing a floating floor in your home, talk to a floor supplier or flooring contractor about choosing the right style, wood, and installation method for you and your home.

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