How To: Install A Floating Floor

Disclaimer-Captain DIY and highly recommend exercising extreme caution when attempting DIY projects. Not everybody can do everything, and some things should only be done by professionals. Keep your digits attached, and keep the insurance company off of your back. Do it right or call the right people!

If you’re an astute reader from way back (hi mom) or you’re a motivated new reader digging through the archives, you may remember this one in which I pulled out a window and replaced it with two, thanks to the help of Guest Expert Dan the Builder.

You may have also seen how to install a subfloor and how to mud and tape drywall with Guest Expert Tom. So many great skills we’re learning here!

Well, all of these great skills have been getting us somewhere. As I mentioned in How I Doubled My Living Space (so many links!), one of my recent projects has been to turn our walk-up attic into the Master Bedroom.

“Cozy” – another word for “tight”

An important part of the bedroom, some might say the third-most important (behind, of course, the lighting and the closet – what were you thinking?) is the floor. Whether you’re getting out of bed to go reinstall your small child into theirs, plodding off to the bathroom to go fall into the toilet because your husband left the damn seat up again, or running outside to stop a fox from galavanting off with one of your chickens, having a floor that feels good on your bare feet is an incredibly overlooked gift.

What About a Carpet?

Oh sure, you could toss wall-to-wall carpeting in there and call it a day. In fact, you can even hire someone to do that for you and enjoy a nice frappacino double-soil latte cacciatore while you watch the nice young fellows from the flooring store toil away amidst your hastily-hidden piles of dirty underwear.

But this is a DIY blog, gosh darn it, and that means we like to screw things up by ourselves! Also, Mrs. DIY is not a fan of wall-to-wall carpeting.

There’s lots of options for flooring, and I put a couple of them down in other areas of the Headquarters. In the bathroom, I put down this beautiful marble tile (!) that was gifted to us by a very generous friend of my Step-Father’s, and through the rest of the house I installed wide pine tongue-and-groove wood. It’s soft, but boy does it look nice, and the character it is developing as it is used really makes it feel like home.

Movin’ On Up

Upstairs, we pretty much spent our budget on the insulation and drywall, so we were looking for something that wouldn’t cost our firstborn. I mean, he barely has any money, how could he afford to pay for our floor?

We also have a defined lack of head space up there, so something that wouldn’t add much floor height was necessary.

Enter the Floating Floor.

We got this floor from our local flooring supply store, and boy is it a breeze to install.

Yes, that is a very green wall

It’s engineered compressed cardboard, and it just clicks together. So easy! Simply lay down a layer of underlayment, start at one end, and start laying floorboards!

Some Tips

I sure made it sound easy, didn’t I? I probably wouldn’t have said it like that if I had been writing this closer to actually doing the job, as it was a bit of a puzzle here and there.

One of the tricks we found with this flooring is to lay it so the rows are as short as possible. My room is about 12 feet wide and 40 feet long. If we had tried to run the flooring the long way it would have been nearly impossible, as each row needs to be put down as one.

Fitting the edges

See, the floorboards click together on the long side, but they also click together on the short sides, and you have to click the short sides together before you can click the long sides in place.

Also, like just about anything else that involves covering a large area, make sure the seams don’t line up. There are a few options on how best to do this; which one you go with depends on the look you want. Refer to diagrams for explanation.

Lining up every other row
Lining up every third row
Lining up every fourth row

Remember, you won’t be able to cut a middle piece because you need the factory edges to click together.

Finally, leave a bit of room (about 3/8” to 1/2”) between the ends of the boards and the walls for expansion, especially if you are laying the floor on a colder day. Don’t worry, the trim you eventually install (or not, don’t judge) will cover those unsightly gaps.

Here you see me pointing triumphantly at our spacer used to keep an even gap

So When Does it Start Floating?

It doesn’t float off the ground, obviously. Unfortunately. That would be cool.

It’s called a floating floor because it is not attached to the subfloor, it just kind of sits there on top of it. This is nice, because there is no need to rent a floor nailer and have a big noisy compressor scaring the pants off of you every time the pump kicks on out of the blue. Not that it scares me, of course, I’m just looking out for you.

Another bonus is that it can be used immediately after installation. No need to get it buffed and primed, no need to wait for glue to dry, none of that. Just lay it and get to sleepin’. Or whatever it is you plan to do in there.

Guest Expert Tom working his magic

Overall, this was a great product to install, and dear ol’ Guest Expert Tom earned his keep by banging out a good portion of it while your pal the Captain was out hustling. So I guess I can’t really claim full DIY status on this one, can I?

Anyway, the point is this is a homeowner-DIY-friendly floor that doesn’t cost a ton of money, and it’s supposedly designed to last 20 years with moderate traffic. In a bedroom, especially if you don’t wear shoes in the house, this floor should last a lifetime. And the bragging you’ll be doing once you’ve accomplished the task of laying it will be your lasting legacy!

2 thoughts on “How To: Install A Floating Floor

  1. This is great information! I was recently tasked with helping a friend install a floating wood floor because I’m in the “building” industry so they assumed I’d be the leader of the operation. My tool is a laptop. I schedule the building of a house, I don’t actually build very often. They didn’t know that. I used this article to learn to pretend to know what I was doing. Turns out they couldn’t decide what color of flooring they wanted so I haven’t had to actually test my newfound knowledge. One day I will make floors float myself and it will be all thanks to you!


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