Floating Hardwood Floors. Introduction
Floating hardwood floors are those that are not secured to any subfloor. They are suspended above the floor while resting on a cushioned underlayment. Originally there was only one type called the glue together. A bead of glue, much similar to common wood workers glue is squeezed into the grooves of each plank. Not all manufacturers use the groove glue method the same as they have their variations such as apply glue to the top of the tongue. After application, the original floating floor was then tapped into place with hammer and tapping block.
Jump to starting page installing floating floors
Or remove carpet, padding, and tack strip
Other Types Of Floating Floors - Click Together
In recent years easier types that create fewer messes were developed; enter click type floating floors. These are still installed by the floating method but without glue. Once again manufacturers will vary in that the design is slightly different, but all click floors have one thing in common; a mechanized system milled into the boards that allow the floor to stay in place by tongue and groove once they are connected.
Not all clicks are as easy as waiting for a click to be heard. We find that to be more common with thinner laminate floors. Thicker engineered click floors will require some persuading to engage by use of tapping together.
Many click style floors and the original glue together often took on the name longstrip, because their characteristics were much the same. Long in that all boards were about eight foot in length, measuring in width of eight inches, some less. Longstrip also has one other common characteristic in that each board is made up of many shorter length veneered pieces. In industry terms, these pieces are called fillets measuring from 10" up to 24 inches depending on the manufacturer style.
Lock and Fold
Only very recent have we seen the lock and fold. This product requires no glue and is supposed to be tap free. Put another way, no tapping together is required. This is true of better made products using Mirage hardwood as an example, but not others.
Floating Solid Hardwoods?
Due to the growing popularity of floating hardwood floors, some get the feeling anything can be floated. Over the years we've fielded a few calls by those wanting to know where to get a floating solid Brazilian Cherry for example. These types cannot be glued together, nor are there click or lock and fold solid hardwood products.
From our latest research, two manufacturers offer a solid floor that can be floated by way of a clip system. Boards are milled with channels on the backside where metal clips connect each board from the backside.
99% Of Floating Floors Are Engineered
And there are reasons for them being engineered. Solid hardwoods expand and contract far too easily with moisture changes that inevitably occur within the environment they are installed. You may think..."my stair treads are not one piece, some have two to three pieces that are glued together and they don't cause me problems."
Those same stair treads have only eleven inches of expansion properties across the width or depth depending on how you look at it. They will expand and contract as a whole but you will not see it. Yet gluing an entire solid floor with hundreds of pieces will create one big block of hardwood that will eventually explode under the right conditions. Additionally, stair tread pieces are glued and clamped. All glued surfaces are planed and square, solid hardwoods are tongue and groove, leaving potential voids everywhere.
Where Are They Installed? Benefits.
Floating floors can be installed over most existing ceramic tile and subfloors of questionable quality. Particle board, gypcrete, or other types that are not recommended for nail or glue down hardwood floors would be included. Not all engineered products can floated successfully. If in doubt, always follow the individual manufacturer specifications. Additionally, floating floors are ideal for those that have multiple floor coverings that may be too troublesome to remove or may contain asbestos.
Some may complain about the hollow feel under foot with floating floors. We've found this to be exaggerated by the popularity of laminate flooring. Thicker engineered floors combined with an upgraded underlayment can reduce the hollow effect to the point it will sound and feel much like a solid floor or one that is attached to the subfloor.
Floating floors provide benefits in that they are comfortable to walk or stand on for extended periods of time, opposed to harder floor coverings in ceramic tile, marble, stone, or even vinyl floors.
As recent as early 2007 Armstrong World Industries manufacturer of Bruce, Hartco, and Robbins changed their installation specifications to include many narrower (3 inch minimum width) engineered products that were originally designated to be installed by stapling or gluing direct to subfloors. The sudden change surprised us because at one time only longstrip floors were to be used for floating.
How Long Does It Take To Install?
With Armstrong turning the tables on us, and others following suit we had one simple guesstimate on how long it would take to install the original glued longstrip floating floor. Our example is based on a square room, measuring at 400 square feet using an eight inch wide product. Subfloor is bare, all preparation work performed, and furniture moved. Time involved is 6-8 hours with click type floors requiring less time. More on other products at the link below.
Preparation: Dust, Adhesives, Allergies
Looking from a dust standpoint you can expect some from the undercutting of door casings or the minor prep of subfloors, depending on the condition. Prep work would include the scraping of concrete subfloors and possible grinding if some higher areas are not suitable for a successful installation. Furthermore it may become necessary to fill low areas with a fast drying patching compound.
For wood sub floors, high areas may have to be shaved down with the use of a belt sander, edger, or planer. These areas are typically where floor joist systems or plywood sheets meet. Adhesives used for floating glued floors should not be considered a threat to those that are allergic sensitive.
Other Considerations With Floating Floors
Given the right amount or lack of moisture, all floating floors will expand and contract as a whole unit because pieces are held together and not to the sub floor. For larger layouts or long runs, we always suggest allowing as much expansion area as possible. Never net fit a floating floor to a fixed object. Doing so will cause tenting or buckling of the floor given the right conditions.
Go To: Remove Carpet & Pad
Other Pages In This Series:
• Floating Floors Introduction
• Remove Carpet & Padding
• Starting The Installation
• Keep Floating Floors Straight - Tapping, Glue
• Tool Tips - Last Board Puller
• Installing Around & Under Kitchen Appliances
• Locking Hardwood Floors
• Engineered Hardwood Floors
• DIY. Easiest or Hardest Floors To Install?
• Expansion Gaps With Hardwood Floors
• Finish Levels. Gloss, Satin, Semi, Matte?
Related Tool & Material Pages:
• Hardwood Strap Clamps
• Last Board Puller
• Compound Miter Saw
• Types of Underlayment
• Types of Glue
• Hardwood Floor Moldings
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