Floating floors have become increasingly popular for many types of floor coverings. The term "floating floor" does not refer to a type of flooring material, but rather to a method of installation that can be used with a variety of materials, including laminates, engineered hardwood, and luxury vinyl flooring. In this method, individual planks (or in some cases tiles) interlock edge-to-edge to form a single mat-like surface that simply rests on the underlayment. It is quite different from the glue-down or nail-down methods that are still used for ceramic and stone tiles, and which were once standard for pretty much all flooring materials.
Floating Floor Installation
All three of the most common floating floor materials share a nearly identical installation method. First, the installer prepares the subfloor, taking pains to make the surface as flat and smooth as possible. Any flexing or unevenness of the subfloor will be transmitted to the relatively thin layer of surface flooring, so a flat, solid substrate is essential to a good installation. Then, an underlayment is applied to the subfloor. This is often a thin layer of dense, resilient foam that is rolled out over the subfloor. This layer helps to absorb any flexing in the surface flooring and makes it softer and quieter underfoot. Some types of floating flooring are engineered with a resilient underlayment bonded right to the planks; with these, no additional underlayment is necessary.
Next, the flooring planks are assembled, beginning along one wall and proceeding across the room to the opposite wall. All floating floors are generally installed with a small gap along the walls, which allows the flooring to expand and contract with seasonal humidity and temperature changes, preventing the floor from buckling. The small gaps around the perimeter of the room are usually hidden by baseboard shoe moldings.