Installation – Floating Floors

The quickest way to introduce the natural beauty and warmth of timber in to your home without the cost of traditional solid flooring is to install a floating floor. Unlike traditional Solid T&G flooring, a floating floor isn’t nailed down and they are popular because they look so good. Floating floors are laid over an underlay and left to “float” over foam, allowing a softer feeling underfoot as the surface flexes.

Floating floors don’t describe the type of floor, moreover, they describe the installation method and are beneficial where people seek minimal time out of the property during installation as the product installed is pre-finished (either engineered, bamboo or laminate).

Floating floors can be installed over a number of different types of subfloors as long as it is level, clean and dry – this will be assessed prior to installation. If laying over a concrete slab, this may involve concrete grinding or levelling of your floor before installation to ensure that your floors will not squeak excessively. The concrete slab will have a moisture vapour barrier over the concrete or many of the underlays now available have one combined in their product.

Once any sub-floor preparation has been completed, the installation of the flooring is then simple, with boards laid in place and “clicked” together, or depending on brand and system, adhesive applied at board joints. The skirting boards cover an expansion gap around the perimeter of the room, and at doorways and any permanent structures such as supporting beams, pipework, benches or staircases, expansion gaps are also left and these are then covered with trims. Kitchen benches are cut around floating floors not laid on top as with some solid T&G floors as the floor needs to be able to move freely to environmental changes within your dwelling.

Direct Adhesive Fix (Glue Down)

Adhesives are now used extensively with timber flooring products. The polyurethane adhesives commonly used when fixing floors to the sub-floor. A full bed of adhesive is used with products such as parquetry and can be also used with engineered flooring and pre-finished solid bamboo.

In the case of direct adhesive applications, the structural integrity of the subfloor must be adequate to withstand forces associated with board expansion. This method also requires a concrete slab to be relatively even, as unevenness (highs and lows) in the slab will show in the final floor and potentially cause other difficulties. Therefore concrete grinding or leveling may be necessary to make sure the slab is sufficiently level.

Floors may be direct adhesive fixed to concrete subfloor or sheet flooring such as particleboard or plywood. A direct adhesive fix floor provides a solid feel under foot and with some products is considered to be more suited to higher humidity environments.

Floors that are direct adhesive fixed have been used for many years with parquetry and it is considered more cost effective than other methods, although due to greater requirements in assessing the subfloor, it is more difficult, and should only be carried out by professional installers.

Any intermediate layer between the flooring and the subfloor (e.g. ceramic tiles over a slab) needs to be removed, or if permitted to be installed over this type of surface by the engineered flooring manufacturer, must be first assessed by professional to ensure it is appropriate to be laid over the existing surface.

To prevent possible moisture uptake into the flooring from a concrete subfloor if laying over a slab, a moisture barrier will be applied, as moisture absorption from beneath the floor can result in greater levels of expansion resulting in buckling, adhesive bond failure and a cupped or crowned appearance.

Having an adhesive fixed floor will mean spending some time out of your home. If only part of your home is having flooring installed, it’s still best to take some time out as the noise, dust and odour of products can be of concern for some people.

It is also recommended to have the installation of the floor occur after all other trades have completed their work (with the exception of cabinetmakers installing kitchen components on top of a finished floor). This is to avoid contamination of the flooring, which can create potential problems.