What's a Floating Floor?
Before You Start
Step 1: Level the Subfloor
Step 2: Prepare the Door Jambs
Step 3: Scribe the First Row
Step 4: Careful Cutting
Step 5: Correct Spacing
Step 6: Click into Place
Step 7: Tighten the Joints
Step 8: Position the End Board
Floating floors consist of pre-cut panels of wood, veneer or plywood with a laminate surface that click or tap together in a tongue-and-groove system. Transition pieces are placed where the new floor meets different existing surfaces. Pre-finished panels are sold in packs that don't have to be sanded, oiled or sealed, and are ready to lay over concrete, tiles, vinyl or even existing timber or particleboard floors. As the panels aren't glued or fixed at any point, the floor does actually float. Expansion gaps are left to allow the panels to expand and contract in response to moisture in the air.
These boards were laid parallel to the main light source, in the sequence shown. Check the instructions, as some suggest laying along the longest wall. Check that the starting corner is square when laying a stretcher bond pattern like we did, as it keeps the halves in alignment.
Remove the base boards and cut the bottom off door jambs so the floor floats under jamb and base boards when replaced. Decide on the laying direction and pattern to be used. Clear the room and vacuum the base floor. Use a quality underlay (or as recommended by the manufacturer) for a waterproof barrier, impact cushioning and sound insulation. Butt-join the underlay then tape the joins with duct tape.
Next, prepare the boards. These are designed to respond to moisture in the air, so before laying they need to acclimatize. Sit unopened packs in the room for 48 hours before using.
Check the concrete with a spirit level to identify peaks or valleys more than 1/8-in. Grind off high spots and fill low areas with self-leveling compound. Mix up a slurry of the compound then pour it into any low spots. Spread lightly with a steel float.
For a neat finish, trim the base of the door jambs so the new floor will fit underneath. Position an off-cut of flooring and underlay next to the jamb to get the height of the cut. Cut the bottom off the jamb slowly and squarely with a handsaw.
The first row of boards may require trimming to align with the wall. To scribe the first row of boards, tape a permanent marker to a narrow timber block. Slide the block along the wall so the pen marks a line along the top of the boards.
For a neat cut, clamp the board across a pair of sawhorses and trim with a jigsaw. The boards can also be cut with a small circular saw if the cut-line is straight, although the line should be taped and the cut made with the face side down.
Floating floors need room to expand so the first boards should not be placed hard up against the wall. Use plastic or timber blocks to space the first row of boards off the wall to give a 1/2-in. expansion gap around the perimeter of the room.
Lay the boards in sequence, keeping the tongue of the boards against the wall. Join or click long sides together first, leaving a small gap at the end. Angle boards as you fit them together and keep the joints even and tight.
Tap the long sides together using a timber or plastic block and hammer. Reposition the block at the open end of the board and tap until the end join butts together tightly. Keep working across the row, completing one row at a time.
It's impossible to tap in the last board of each row, so use a pry bar with one edge that hooks down over the end of the board and an upturned edge you can tap easily with a hammer. Finish laying the boards and replace the base boards.
© 2012 Reiman Media Group, LLC.