What is a Floating Floor?
The term ‘floating floor’ actually refers to an installation method and not to a type of flooring. This installation method does not require nailing or gluing the floor to the sub floor. The different planks or boards of wood or even tiles (rarely) are attached together either by using glue or by snapping them together.
However, the term ‘floating floor’ has become increasingly synonymous with laminate flooring and now, also with vinyl flooring or with floating tile systems.
Popular floating floors
Some of the popular examples of floating floors include laminate flooring, engineered flooring and luxury vinyl flooring, also popularly called LVFs. Laminate flooring are the best example of floating floors; these are not glued to the sub floor and are installed on the floating basis. While, LVFs are snapped together, most of the engineered floorings are nailed down to a plywood substrate.
Popular non-floating floors
Some of the most commonly used non-floating floors are solid hardwood, ceramic tiles and wall-to-wall carpeting. None of these are installed as a floating floor. Solid hardwood is nailed to the sub-floor, ceramic tiles are mortared to a substrate and the edges of a carpet are secured to the sub-floor using tack strips.
Advantages of floating floor
- It allows for expansion and contraction: An expansion gap is left around the perimeter of laminate flooring. This allows the floor to expand or contract depending on the level of humidity in the room. This clearly indicates that floating floors do not use confinement as a method to keep the floor in place.
- It’s an easy DIY project: The best thing about a floating floor is that it can be done by anyone. They do not require any specialized skill or special tools, like in the case of hardwood flooring. In floating floors, the floorboards are attached together either by using glue or by snapping them together. These are not to be nailed down like other hardwood floorings.
- These are much cheaper: Since it is a DIY project that does not require a specialized skill or special tools, it automatically becomes much cheaper than other kinds of installations that require professional labor and special tools to initiate the process.
Disadvantages of floating floor
- The material is not strong and solid: The materials that are used in a floating floor are thinner, less solid and substantial, when compared to those that are directly attached to the sub-floor. This directly affects the quality and durability of the floor.
- The floors are low in quality: The floors that are installed using the floating method such as laminates or vinyl are not considered as a good option by the home owners. They, definitely, have a lower resale value when compared to solid hardwood floors and their quality is, invariably, a compromise.
- Flooring cannot be installed over floating floors: Since floating floors are not attached to the sub floor, it is not possible to install flooring over them. The process can easily disassemble them. If you have to install a floor, you will first need to install a hard underlayment of either plywood or cement tile backer and then initiate the process.
A floating floor is often compared to a jigsaw puzzle, since it remains intact and in place even though it is not joined to the sub-floor. Some of the factors that keep a floating place in position are the engineered boards that are used, friction between the boards and the sub-floor, weight of the planks and confinement by the walls.