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What Is a Floating Floor?

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By Lee Wallender. Home Renovations Expert

As the ultimate know-nothing beginner, Lee Wallender's first experience with home renovation was remodeling a 100 year-old house.

How To Contact Me

Unfortunately, it has come to the point where I cannot answer readers' individual questions about home remodeling. The backlog has become so great that I feel I cannot adequately serve readers. If you have emergency questions, write to the address below and I will try to answer.


Definition: Floating floor is a method of installing a floor rather than a specific type of flooring material. In this method, the individual planks, boards, or tile attach to each other--either by means of gluing or snapping together--but do not attach to the substrate (whether underlayment or sub-floor) on which it is being installed.

A floating floor is sometimes erroneously thought of as a floor that is vertically elevated from the subfloor. so that there is a space between floating floor and subfloor.

A jigsaw puzzle is a good analogy for understanding floating floors. With a jigsaw puzzle, pieces connect to each other, but not to the table. Serving to keep the puzzle in

place: weight of the puzzle; friction contact between puzzle and table; and side-to-side attachment of the individual pieces.

How It Works:

For ages, floor coverings were attached to their underlying substrates. Hardwood floors do need to be nailed down to the sub-floor. Ceramic and porcelain tile. too, need to be mortared to their bases.

As do-it-yourself floor installation gained in popularity, methods had to be developed to ease the complexity of installation for homeowners.

Development of the floating floor freed novice floor installers from dealing with manual nailing or air compressed floor nailers.

Like the puzzle, a floating floor stays in place because of four factors:

  1. Sheer Weight. Even though individual laminate planks are lightweight, collectively they can weigh several hundred pounds across an entire room.
  2. Friction. Below laminate is foam or cork underlayment. Friction between flooring planks and underlayment controls lateral movement.
  3. Joinery. Laminate boards positively snap or glue together.

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Even some types of tile flooring are floating. Rather than mortaring down the tile to the floor, the tiles are attached to each other via interlocking plastic trays.

Category: Forex

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