What is a floating floor? I get this question often from customers because someone has told them they should get it. But, they don’t understand what a floating is.
Technically, a floating floor means that it is “floating” on top of the floor below it and is not directly secured to the floor (i.e. no nails and no glue). Instead it is held down or secured around the edges of the room – the base molding/shoe molding and transitions. This is often used if it is going over an existing floor or on top of cement – more about this later. Now, because the floor is floated and not secured to the floor there tends to be a bit more movement in the floor – you especially see and hear this in laminate floors and it’s more noticeable if it was poorly installed.
Given the definition, there are many types of floating floors as you’ll see below, so anytime someone tells me they want or think they need a floating floor, I need to dig a little deeper to make sure I’m understanding their wants and needs because there are many types of floating floors. (Plus sometimes someone tells me they need a floating floor and when I get to their house I discover that they don’t need a floating floor).
1. Laminate floors -Laminate floors are floating floors. Laminate is fake – it looks like hardwood, but it’s not – it’s a digital picture of hardwood and it clicks together. (There are also versions that look like tile) One of the advantage of laminate is that is less expensive than hardwood – both material-wise and labor-wise and it can often be placed on top of existing flooring without needing to rip it up, so this saves more money in labor.
2. Some engineered hardwoods are floating floors. Hardwoods can be installed 3 ways: 1) nail down (if there is plywood there), 2) glue down (engineered only) and 3) floated (engineered only). Some hardwoods are specially made to click into place just like a laminate does (they are easier for do-it-yourselfers and some can be installed over radiant heat). You click them into place and once they clicked, they are locked into place. The other option for non-clickable engineered hardwood is to glue the joints of the hardwood. Either way, both options require underlayment underneath the hardwood just as you would use for a laminate.
3. Cork is a floating floor. They come in interlocking pieces (usually 1 ft x 3ft) and click together just as a laminate does.
4. Some vinyls are floating floors (but most aren’t). Usually vinyl is glued down, but some of the more recent fiber floors that have some fiberglass and extra cushion for your feet can be glued or floated. If they are floated, they just lie on top of the floor and are secured along the base molding or cove base along the walls and cabinets.
So, after all of that, why would someone want a floating floor? Here are some of the reasons:
1. They want to save money by not ripping up the floor. Instead, they just want to go on top of it.
2. They have asbestos tile on the floor and it would be dangerous/illegal to remove that (or very costly to have an abatement company come in and professionally abate it).
3. They have a floor where glue will not adhere to it well (e.g. epoxy floor or floor w/ lots of ridges and not a flat surface.
4. They are putting hardwood on top of radiant heat (and hence need to avoid adhesives and nails).
Here are some reasons why customers mistakenly THINK they need a floating floor.
1. They don’t have plywood or it’s going over a cement subfloor. This is the most frequent area of confusion. While floating floors definitely will work over cement, you do not need to do a floating floor. You can, but you also have the option of doing an engineered hardwood and gluing it down. So, be sure to understand your objectives and your budget before ruling options out.
2. It’s below grade/in a basement. Floating floors can work in the basement, but other floors can also work so this is where it’s necessary to understand the objective of the room, moisture issues and budget.
3. There is a moisture issue. Well if there is a moisture issue, this should prob. be addressed first. Or, if you are not going to make any changes, then pick the appropriate floor that will work with moisture. Hardwood, laminate and cork are no no’s if you have a moisture issue. Many customers mistakenly believe that laminate is waterproof, and I have news for you…it’s not. It’s made w/ hardwood shavings, so if you are concerned about hardwood and moisture same goes for laminate. If there is a moisture issue, consider vinyl or tile.
4. They have a sloping or uneven floor. Hard surfaces don’t generally work well over uneven floors regardless of whether it’s hardwood, laminate, or tile. it’s best to level these out first, but the floor prep will cost you more money. If budget is a concern w/ the leveling, the consider a more flexible surface such as vinyl, carpet or rubber.
I know there are a lot of issues to consider and I suppose this is why it’s best to consult a professional. Everyone’s situation and budget is different. Frequently, I will narrow down to the 2 or 3 choices that could work for my customers and price them all out and then let them decide what works best with their needs and budget. I’ll always add in my 2 cents (or sometimes even a nickel).
Laminate flooring is available in a wide range of styles. From the slate effect to stone tiles and classic wood laminate, there is a great flooring option to match the intended look and feel. Here are a few of the most popular laminate flooring types:
Solid oak flooring is certain to be a very appealing option for the home and easily complements most styles of decor. However, it is an extremely expensive option and also needs a lot of ongoing maintenance. Alternatively, the oak laminate flooring is a practical substitution to give the stunning look of real oak and is much more affordable, especially if laying the laminate in a large area. Plus, this type of flooring is easy to maintain.
The walnut laminate is atmospheric and dark to help create the perfect ambiance in the home. The laminate can be made to look much like real wood with its unique grain and knot detail. The natural dark color means a room is given a neutral base for greater freedom to decorate and style the walls and furnishing. Also, it helps to add a touch of warmth to a room which makes it a practical choice for the bedroom.
The hickory laminate is a great way to introduce a warm tone to the home. This flooring is available in several shades including the grays, beige and warm reds. It is a very stylish and classic option that will look perfect in any home receiving a modern makeover.
The chestnut laminate has a traditional look and gives the classic look to any living space in the home. It has a very distinctive grain detail which helps to enhance its all-round authenticity. Also, this type of laminate can be finished with a worn look to create a feeling of yesteryear. The classic look makes it an extremely versatile option and easily goes with most color schemes.
A stone tiled floor is a wonderful finish to the traditional or contemporary styled home. Stone not only looks stunning, but is easy to maintain and super durable. However, it is a material that is very cold under your feet and quite slippery when wet. A great substitution for the real thing is the stone effect laminate. This can look extremely realistic while also being more comfortable to walk on and naturally anti-slip.
Real slate flooring is a fantastic option for the home, but is very expensive. The most cost-effective option is to invest in slate effect laminate with its textured surfaced and rich and deep tones. It is a lot more practical floor surface and much easier to clean and maintain.
Everyone likes the beautiful, timeless look of hardwood floors. Elegant, yet simple, hardwood is stunning. But take a closer look. Is that hardwood scratched and dented? Are those stains and fade marks that you see there? Maybe that hardwood floor is not as nice as you originally thought.
If you like the look and the timeless appearance of hardwood floors but not want the scratches, dents and fade marks that will come with it than laminate flooring is a good option for you. Besides the fact that laminate is much more durable than traditional hardwood flooring, it is much cheaper as well.
What Is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is a composite product that looks like a wood product; however, you can care for it as if you would your laminate countertop. Laminate flooring is made of a high-density core with an image placed on the top layer and sealed with a laminate covering. Laminate flooring has a water repellent placed on it and good quality floors are infused with water repellent throughout the core.
What Kind Of Laminate Floor Should I Get?
When you are choosing your laminate floor you will need to take a few things into consideration. The first thing that you need to look at is where you are going to put the floor. Are you looking at a high traffic area that will see a lot of use? Alternatively, is the area that you are covering a smaller, low traffic area? If you are looking at covering a low traffic area, you will probably be able to get away with a laminate flooring that has a smaller core.
The core sizes of laminate flooring vary from around 6mm to 12 mm. The thicker the core in the flooring, the better the stability is. In addition, if you have a thicker core it will stand up better to wear and tear is likely to last you longer than a thinner core.
If you are thinking of moving to a different home in the next few years, you may want to go with a lesser quality of laminate flooring as well. Usually when people purchase a home, the flooring is the first thing that they change so there is no point spending a lot of money on a floor when you are going to move homes.
Most laminate floor come with warranties starting around ten years long. Generally, the more expensive floor types will come with longer warranties. Be sure to read your warranties very carefully however, as some warranties may not cover floor placement in the kitchen or bathroom.
Can I do It Myself?
One of the biggest appeals of laminate flooring is that most people can install them by themselves. You can install most laminate coverings over sheet vinyl, concrete slabs, plywood underlay, existing hardwood or any other flat and level surface.
The glue less Pergo flooring is a very popular choice because it does not require any glue to install properly or any other special tools of any kind. Therefore, anyone can do it himself or herself without any special training. Even if you have never installed a floor before, or do not have a lot of home renovation experience, laminate flooring is easily installed.
One of the biggest benefits to installing the floor yourself is that you can save thousands of dollars on installation fees. Unlike hardwood floors that are already very pricy, and need to be installed professionally, laminate is quick and easy, even for the beginner.
What About In The Kitchen?
Laminate flooring is a good choice for the kitchen and bathroom because it is water repellent. The core of laminate floors have been infused with water repellent to protect from everyday spills that happen. However if you are looking at installing your floor in the kitchen or bathroom you may want to look at purchasing a floor that has been infused with a paraffin wax in the joints in order to further repel water and avoid swelling.
Unlike hardwood floors, laminate is a much better choice for kitchens or bathrooms. Because we all know that spills happen. Water and food spills can stain traditional hardwood floors, and with laminate, you simply wipe them up and it is all taken care of.
Choose The Right Floor
Laminate flooring is available in many different styles, colors and patterns. There is something to suit everyone no matter what your style preference may be. When you go shopping for laminate flooring, you will encounter many different brands such as Pergo, Armstrong and Bruce. Since laminate was introduced in 1982, its market share has been growing in leaps and bounds. You will be able to find laminate in many price ranges, so there is something to suit everyone and everyone’s budget.