Laminate flooring has been the leader to other flooring products being created for floating installation as floating floors continue to grow in popularity. Floating floors are just about in every flooring category today:
- Carpet Tile
- Ceramic Tile
- Sheet Vinyl
- Vinyl Tile
Terms like “easy to install or DIY” are often associated to the floating floor category. Yes, a floating floor installation has taken the bucket and trowel out of the hands of the installer, but handling and installing any floor product must be done correctly or it will not work. Because this product category is so popular with “DIYers,” it is crucial that floor covering professional know the right way and give the customer their money’s worth for assurance of a job well done. That is why they come to you, the flooring professional to do the job instead of doing it themselves. Proper installation techniques are critical to any successful flooring installation, and floating floors are no exception.
Not every product is good for every use. Certain floors should not be used in wet areas and residential grade products should not be used commercially. There is no excuse not to use the right flooring material.
Not all floating floor products have the same installation requirements or methods. There are numerous installation systems on the market today including click together, “glueless” angled installations, flat (non-angled) glueless & glued. Some products can be installed “glueless” residentially but require an adhesive in commercial use or in wet areas like bathrooms. Some products install from left to right, others from right to left, and some are non-directional. Understanding the installation requirements of the product will go a long way to making you more knowledgeable and help to install the job correctly.
Installation Issues with Floating Floors
Building must be climate controlled before and after the flooring goes in. If there is no heat or air conditioning, don’t do the job! Acclimation is key, let the product adapt to its environment. Floating floors, like most floor coverings, are subject to expansion and contraction with changes in climate.
Never assume floating floors can be installed over anything. Clean, smooth, and dry. Level and flat is a detail that often gets forgotten! The floor flatness requirements of a floating floor are the same as a glue down floor. Uneven subfloors may not allow the floating floor to go together correctly. Uneven subfloors create hollow sounds or movement in the finished floor that can lead to gaps between the boards, broken tongues or locking system. Floating floors are not made to cover up.
Not enough expansion space provided for the floor to move. Not leaving adequate space at the perimeter around door jambs, walls or other stationary objects. Most flooring products installed wall to wall will buckle due to lack of an expansion zone.
Restricting the movement of the flooring by nailing moldings into it. Placing or installing heavy objects or cabinets onto the flooring. Not using transition strips when needed. If the layout requires expansion moldings, make certain that your customer knows where the moldings will be placed before the installation begins. Don’t assume just because it doesn’t get glued down, that a floating floor is resistant to moisture issues. If the substrate moisture reading are within the manufacturer’s requirements, proceed with the installation. If not, address the moisture issue according to manufacturer’s guidelines.
The manufacturer’s guidelines such as recommended use and installation instructions are for the benefit of the customer and the installer should there ever be an issue with the floor.