Floating floors are a confusing topic – but don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with this in-depth guide to learn all about them.
It’s important to know what a floating floor is, what types of materials work best as a floating floor, and what are the pros and cons of choosing a floating floor. So let’s jump straight into it.
What Is A Floating Floor?
Floating floors are not an actual type of flooring material, although some flooring materials work better as a floating floor than others. The term, “floating”, refers to an installation method where the floor sits, or “floats”, on top of a subfloor and does not adhere to the floor below.
Are There Types of Floating Floors?
There aren’t types of floating floors, as this is simply a type of installation. There are, however, types of flooring that are suited for floating floors.
Several types of flooring materials work well with a floating floor installation. While other flooring materials work better adhered to the subfloor in a more conventional flooring method and should not be considered for use as a floating floor.
The material of the floating flooring you choose is laid on top of the subfloor but not attached to it. First, you will fit the pieces of the floor together like a puzzle. The floating floor pieces are glued, or snapped together to form the flooring but not adhered to the subfloor.
Once you have connected the planks or tiles, you then place the floating floor onto the subfloor much like you would lay down an area rug.
Floating flooring is commonly used with laminate floors but has gained popularity with luxury vinyl tiles LVTs, vinyl, and engineered hardwood floors as well.
What Types of Flooring can be installed on floating floors?
Since a floating floor does not get nailed or glued down to the subfloor, there are specific types of flooring that are appropriate to use as a floating floor.
Types of floating floors include:
Laminate is almost never glued to the subfloor, so it makes a great floating floor choice.
Vinyl has come a long way in recent years now offering floors that look like wood but are really made of vinyl. Often, it takes a trained eye to tell the difference between vinyl wood planks and real wood. Floating vinyl is manufactured with tongues and grooves for click-locking them together.
To use vinyl as a floating floor, snap vinyl floors together board to board. Keep in mind that vinyl floating floorboards may take a great deal of strength to piece together properly.
Luxury vinyl floorboards are designed to be snapped together with tongue and groove that lock one board to another and sometimes require a lot of effort and strength to do so.
Engineered Hardwood Floors
Many engineered wood floors are still designed to be stapled or nailed to plywood subflooring. However, more and more engineered wood flooring is being made to connect the pieces using tongue and groove making it easy to install as a floating floor.
Floating floor tiles tend to be expensive but can look amazing once they are set in place. Soapstone, for instance, is a good material for floating floor tiles. Attach them together using interlocking plastic trays.
What Types of Flooring Aren’t Suitable for Floating Floors?
A few types of flooring are not suitable for floating floors. They include:
- Soft floor coverings like wall-to-wall carpeting that uses tack strips to secure it to the subfloor. It is too light and not thick enough to work well as a floating floor.
- Conventional ceramic tiles that are attached with mortar do not work well as a floating floor.
- Solid hardwood flooring that requires the use of nails to install to the subfloor will not work as a floating floor option.
Pros of Floating Floors
There are a lot of pros to choosing a floating floor. However, there are some downsides to note as well. Before deciding on what kind of floors to install, it’s important to have a full picture of the pros and the cons of each type of flooring.
Some of the pros of floating floors include:
Easy to install making it nice for do-it-yourself DIY installers
No special tools or materials are needed. Although, it is helpful to follow the instructions for installing the specific type of flooring you choose.
The cost of installing a floating floor is a lot less than other methods, even if you hire a contractor to do the work.
Easy to Clean
Usually, all it takes to clean a floating floor is a damp mop or no water cleaning with engineered hardwood. Some even use a vacuum cleaner on their floating floor, so long as it has a parquet head to be gentle on the bare floor.
Allow for temperature and seasonal changes
Floating floors work well with engineered hardwood floors or laminates since they have a tendency to contract and expand during the temperature and humidity changes of the seasons.
Easy to Repair
The structure of floating floors makes it easy to replace damaged planks or tiles.
Keeps Subflooring Intact
Installing a floating floor will not impact the subfloor below since no nails or adhesives are used. If you need to repair an individual plank or tile, you will not have to worry about harming the subfloor beneath it.
Besides being convenient to install on your own time, and you probably will not need to hire a professional, a floating floor can conveniently allow access to the subfloor if necessary.
Cons of Floating Floors
It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, however. Let’s look at some of the cons of floating floors to get the full picture.
Floating Floors Tend To Be Thinner Than Conventional Floors
This could have an impact on how durable they stand up to use, meaning they may need to be replaced sooner.
Cannot Be Finished
If you’re looking to stain or finish your floor, then a floating floor is not for you, since the vinyl, laminate, or other materials used for floating floors cannot be finished with sealants.
A floating floor does not adhere to the subflooring, so they may feel unstable underfoot as they tend to move slightly as you walk across them.
They could produce a hollow sound when you walk on them or move furniture. They also tend to creak more than a conventional floor, since the floating floor “floats”, making it prone to movement.
Having a floating floor installed can lower the overall resale value of your home since buyers tend to look at hardwood flooring or quality, premium carpeting as a perk while floating floors are generally considered to be done on the cheap.
If you are looking to update your floors on a budget or as a DIY Do-It-Yourself installer, a floating floor may be a great fit for you. Floating floors tend to be a lot less expensive and easier to install than conventional flooring.
If you don’t want to lower your resale value, however, choose wisely and go with a luxury vinyl floating floor material that will give you all the benefits of a floating floor and look like premium flooring.