What is a Floating Hardwood Floor System?

When you install hard wood strips on a cushioned underlay and not directly on sub-floors, it is referred to as floating hardwood floors.

Before the latest trends of using engineered hardwood floors, the most popular wood flooring system - tongue and groove wood panels – was bonded together with woodworker’s adhesive. Installed directly on sub-floors, one piece after the other, glue is applied into the groove of the first strip; the tongue of another was fixed into the groove and tapped into place with a hammer and a tapping block. And so this process continues and then is allowed to set.

However, with today's flooring installations and the popular use of engineered wood, installing is so much simpler, even a novice can carefully install wood flooring. It only requires a lock and fold system without the use of woodworkers glue.

The wood panels are fitted (slotted) onto a cushioned underlay that been laid on the sub-floor. The strips are connected one at a time, with the adjoining panels actually folding over to create a secured fit.

Benefits of Floating Wood Flooring

  • They are more comfortable on the feet, much more than hard cold floors like stone, marble, granite, or ceramic tiles.
  • They can be installed on an existing ceramic tiled floor (assuming you’ve gotten tired of your floor tiles), or on sub-floors made with particle boards or plywood sheets.
  • They require no nailing or gluing.
But not all engineered wood products can be floated successfully. If you are in doubt, check on manufacturer’s instructions and specifications on the pack before purchase.

Some homeowners are not quite comfortable with that ‘hollow feel’ you get underfoot with floating wood floors. If this applies to you, using thicker wood strips will reduce that effect.

Another way to counter that sensation is to use a higher grade underlay. This combined with the thicker engineered wood will remove that hollow sound, and the feeling you get underfoot won’t be much different from walking on a solid floor.

The Key to a Perfect Installation

It’s good to note that:
  • The floor must be clean and free of specks and dirt.
  • Floor must be even and level before the installation process commences.
  • Warped wood planks will make utter nonsense of the final wood floor finish
  • Don’t ‘net fit' one wood strip to another because doing so will cause tenting or buckling of the finished floor. Always allow for expansion room.

Installing floating hard wood flooring is fairly straight forward, as long as the right preparations have been done. Preparing the sub floor before installation of the wood strips is the key to a perfect floor finish.