How To Install a Floating Floor

What is a “floating floor”?

Floating floorIt is an engineered floor system of pre-cut pieces of flooring. The panels are generally of  plywood, Timber veneer, solid timber, or manufactured laminate product.

They are usually pre-finished which does away with the need for sanding and coating.

Mostly they join together with a tongue and groove (Fig 1) system which make them ideal for the Home Handyman to use.

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Before starting..

Follow the Installation Instructions that come with the flooring. If  placing over recently laid concrete you MUST allow drying time of 1 month per 25 mm (1 inch) thickness. For a 100mm (4 Inches) thick slab allow 4 months from the date the slab was laid. The area must be flat and clean. Look at the area carefully, pay attention to where you want to start, but more importantly to where the flooring will finish. How will you finish off where junctions of carpet or tiles meet your new flooring.

You have 2 option for thr area where the new floor joins the walls. I suggest that you remove the existing skirting boards before starting to lay your new floor. However you can cover the expansion gap with a piece of beading.

It is a good idea to store the packs of your new floor in the room that it is to be laid in, for at least a week prior to laying. This allows the product to acclimatise.

Surface preparation

Ensure that the surface is flat, fill or sand to make sure it is a good flat even surface. If laying over a timber sub floor ensure there are no loose or creaking boards.

Read the Installation instructions again to ensure you have everything you need.

Base preparation

If laying over an existing tongue and groove floor you will need to fix 6mm (quarter inch) underlay (masonite or ply) nailed off every 300mm (1 foot) Concrete floors need 0.2mm plastic membrane overlapped at joins by 200mm (8 inches) Particle board or plywoods floors should be smooth enough to go to the next step.

Foam underlay is spread out next. Tape joints.

Lay the floorLay the floor

A 12mm expansion gap must be left at the wall junction. (Fig 2) The gap is covered by skirting or beading once the floor has been laid. I suggest 12mm spacers are used to maintain a constant gap and removed later. The use of cork expansion strip which can be left in place is no longer applicable to this application.

Lay the floorStart laying the flooring at a corner of the longest wall. Stagger the joins. Try to use offcuts from the previous section to start the next run of boards. Do not have joins next to each other, stagger them. (Fig 3)

Once you have laid a few rows check the flooring is square to the opposite wall (or the wall you started from) by measuring at 3 or 4 places along the row. Repeat this step often.

Lay the floorThe first board of the next row is pressed into position. Then tapped into place using a rubber mallet and a block of wood, a piece of 42x19mm (2×1 inch) is ideal.(Fig 4)

The last row

Last rowThe last row will most often require cutting to the correct width. Make sure you remember to allow for the expansion gap. Measure the gap from the last board you laid and the wall, deduct the gap allowance and cut the board to suit. To fit this board see (Fig 5) Using a pinch bar and a protective piece of timber held low against the wall, force the board into place.

Move along the length of the board a couple of times to ensure it is fitted tightly into the previous one.

Last rowNow you can  proceed to refit the skirting or beading to all the edges of the floor. (Fig 6)

Finishing and Maintenance

If your boards are pre-finished you can sit back and relax.

Follow the maintenance tips supplied with your boards. If your boards require a Finish they will have instructions that will have to be followed.

Vacuum often, use door mats. A damp cloth will surfice to clean up spills.

If you need a hand, contact me me via the contacts page.

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