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What is a Floating Floor: The Basics

Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2021-12-02      Origin: Site


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If you’ve ever found yourself wondering “what is a floating floor?” You’re in the right place! This method of floor installation is great for DIY-ers and professionals alike.

Why? Floating floors are easy (and often cheaper) to install. They’re common with all types of flooring materials. They can even help to create environmentally friendly floors because they avoid harmful adhesives. And they have a ton of other benefits we’ll talk about further down.

So: keep reading for the answer to the “what is a floating floor” question. Plus, we’ll explain what types of flooring can be installed as floating floors, the advantages and disadvantages of this type of installation, and much more.

By the end, you’ll know whether floating floors are right for you!

First of All: What is a Floating Floor?

So, what is a floating floor, exactly?

First and foremost, the term “floating floor” refers to an installation style rather than a specific product. In other words, almost any type of flooring material can be installed as a floating floor, with a few exceptions.

Now, you might be inclined to think that floating floors literally float. But as cool as that would be, floating floors simply rest atop your subflooring. There’s no need to nail or glue them down.

How Are Floating Floors Held in Place?

You can glue floating floors down. But most of the time, they’re held down by the all-powerful forces of friction and gravity.

Basically, to understand what a floating floor is, you need to understand click-together flooring. Click-together or “snap-lock” floor planks are attached to each other via tightly-fitting interlocking grooves or rivets. Think of them like a high-tech jigsaw puzzle.

When an entire floor of click-together planks is snapped together, the weight of the resulting surface—plus the friction of the connections—keeps the floor in place.

And voila! It “floats” above the subfloor.

This makes floating floors some of the easiest floors to install because you can simply snap them together.

And of course, if you do happen to make a mistake, there’s no need to rip out nails or staples in frustration. Just unsnap them and try again!

Floating Floors vs. Non-Floating Floors: What Are the Differences?

Since many types of flooring come in both floating and non-floating varieties, the only big difference is how they’re installed.

l Nail-down floors are (gasp!) nailed to a subfloor or underlayment. And while that might give them some advantages, they are harder to install and remove.

l Staple-down floors are put in similarly, but are usually reserved for lighter floors like vinyl or soft(er) hardwoods.

l Glue-down floors use adhesives (sometimes containing harmful chemicals) to attach the floor to the subflooring.

So to recap: what is a floating floor? It’s a style of floor installation that doesn’t rely on a fastener (glue, nails, etc.) to attach it to the subfloor. Only gravity and friction!

Luxury Vinyl Plank

Luxury vinyl plank, or LVP, is another good floating option. In fact, almost all LVP products can be floated. (Quick note: “LVT” or “luxury vinyl tile” is essentially the same thing as LVP).

If you look into the differences between vinyl plank vs. laminate, you’ll find that they have a similar design structure. LVP is just composed primarily of vinyl instead of multiple materials.

This makes LVP a better option for hard-wearing applications like mudroom flooring because it tends to be a little more robust. And while there are some vinyl plank flooring disadvantages, it is almost always waterproof—thanks, in no small part, to its click-together floating installation!

How Long Do Floating Floors Last?

Hint: it depends on the type!

There are lots of elements to discuss when answering the “what is a floating floor” question. But it’s important to remember that floating floors are a style of installation. So, the lifespan of a floating floor depends almost entirely on the material it’s made of.

The only element to note here is that floating floors can be more prone to wearing down (compared to traditionally-installed floors) if they’re installed over an uneven, unsuitable, or damaged underlayment. But if installed correctly, that’s not a problem!

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