To Float a Floor or not to Float a Floor – a Tough Home Renovation Decision

Floating floors are not secured to the floor beneath them in the traditional manner, with glue or nails. Instead, they are fastened by the edges utilizing shoe molding and transitions.

One of the most common types of floating floors on the market is laminate flooring. However, if laminate is not installed correctly, it can be heard shifting when people walk over it. The main advantage of laminate is its durability and low cost. “However, low cost flooring may end up costing you more because it is much harder to clean, and in some cases, almost impossible to keep clean and streak free,” said Dean Dupre, owner/operator of Clearwater, Fla.’s Champion Tile & Marble.

In most instances when a floating floor is installed, there is a fair amount of movement in it because it is fitted over either cement or on top of another floor. If this is installed over an area with moisture issues, the result tends to be disastrous and the dampness disintegrates the laminate overtime. Laminate is not waterproof and a floating laminate floor does not remedy the moisture problem.

Floating laminate flooring keeps company with a few of its country cousins, engineered hardwoods. Not all engineered hardwoods are considered to be floating floors, because some must be nailed or glued down. All hardwood and laminate installations also require some form of underlay; so technically, the floor is not strictly free floating.

Before asking a contractor to install a floating floor or attempt a home renovation project that involves one, it is best to do the research required to select the correct product. For instance, if the floor is to go on top of radiant heating, there is a need to avoid nails and glues. Understanding the reasons why someone would require a floating floor are paramount to getting precisely what is required for various locations in the home. Other flooring may be less expensive and do a better job.

“Another fine choice for a floating floor, provided that is viable in your particular location, is using cork flooring. If cork does not hold any appeal for you, try sourcing vinyl. Some vinyls are floating floors, but choose carefully, because the rule of thumb with vinyl flooring is that most of them are ‘not’ floating floors,” cautioned Dupre.

Since it is so difficult to find a true floating floor, why would a homeowner wish to install one? Installing a floor over a floor, without ripping up the first one, saves times, money and labor. Or, a homeowner has an existing floor that does not handle glue well. There are also certain environmental considerations for putting down a floating floor. An example would be asbestos tile, making removal toxic and/or very expensive.

Floating flooring is a greatly misunderstood concept and it is best to discuss various options with an experienced flooring contractor before proceeding with any home flooring renovation project.

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