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What Is a Floating Hardwood Floor?

May 30, 2012 2:32 pm    Posted by dan    Comments (4)

Home for Sale

Last week, I received a call from a friend of mine who knows I work in Customer Service for Armstrong. He was planning to put his home up for sale and wanted to add value to it, without incurring substantial expenses. He had older carpet in his family room and living room and wanted to know if there was some way he could install a hardwood floor without too much hassle. My friend is not an installer, but he is a skilled do-it-yourselfer, so I suggested that he install a floating hardwood floor. His question to me was: “What’s a floating hardwood floor?”

Floating hardwood not attached to the subfloor
A floating hardwood floor, in the simplest explanation, is a hardwood floor that is installed without attaching it to the subfloor below. These floors are an engineered wood, with wood plies adhered together to create a structurally stable product. This kind of construction allows these floors to be installed over many different surfaces. Engineered wood is sold in a variety of species and colors, and it can come in wide widths.

Armstrong Tigerwood - Tigerwood Natural Hardwood Floor

An Armstrong engineered hardwood can be floated in different ways, depending on the construction of the tongue and groove. If the product has a standard tongue and groove, than the wood can be floated by applying a bead of glue in the groove and then inserting the tongue of the next board. While an adhesive is required, it’s only to glue the boards together, not to the subfloor. Other engineered hardwood floors have a locking mechanism instead of a tongue and groove, which means no adhesive is involved. No matter how the floating hardwood is installed, an underlayment, such as the Armstrong Quiet Comfort Premium, should be installed over the subfloor to provide the hardwood flooring with some protection against moisture and to provide some acoustical features.

Floating hardwood floors make sense for a lot of reasons.

  • They can be installed over most subfloors as long as the subfloor is level, flat, clean, dry and sound.
  • They are the most DIY-friendly installations because there is very little (to no) adhesive necessary – and no nails or staples.
  • They can be removed with little destruction to the home if the use of the room changes and a new floor is needed.
  • They cost less in terms of installation.

If a friend asks you for a product that will upgrade their home without putting out a ton of money, suggest a floating hardwood floor. I think they’ll be happy with the results – and the impact on their wallet.

Dan Willard is a Technical Services Representative with almost 9 years of experience in customer service and claims. His experience with Armstrong has allowed him to work with commercial and residential customers by phone, email, and even social media. Outside of work, Dan enjoys spending time with his wife and children and coaching Little League baseball.

4 Responses to “What Is a Floating Hardwood Floor?”

  1. Carpet Arlington says:

    IT is very exclusive information.Thanks for sharing.
    Carpet Arlington

  2. Chuck Bissell says:

    We are considering putting a engineerednwood floor down in our cottage in northern Michigan. Part of the wood will be going over a subfloor and partly over a concrete slab. We’ve gotten different advice whether the engineered wood floor can go directly over the cement or if it needs a subfloor put down. Any thoughts?

    • dan says:

      Thank you for your inquiry, Chuck. This is an excellent question.

      Engineered hardwood and floating hardwood can be installed directly over concrete subflooring provided that the concrete is properly prepared. The concrete flooring should be level, flat, free of debris and dry. Dry is very important because all wood, whether solid or engineered, is going to be reactive to all moisture and if the subfloor is not dry it could cause a number of severe problems. Prior to installation the concrete should be tested for moisture to verify it is dry enough for the wood. Moisture tests and the recommended results can be found in the concrete subfloor section of the Engineered Installation System.

      If you are concerned about moisture then you could consider applying a moisture retardant system like the Armstrong S-135 VapArrest to the concrete prior to the installation of the wood. This is a 2 part epoxy system that is rolled on the floor and it would reduce vapor emissions from the slab by 75%. The engineered wood can be glued to this surface with a urethane based adhesive (like Armstrong 57 or Bruce Equalizer) or you can float over top.

      So the simple answer to your question is yes, engineered flooring can be installed directly over concrete. But the concrete must be properly prepared just like any subfloor surface.

      Thank you for your inquiry. Please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns.

      Thank you,

  3. Wayne says:

    Thanks Dan,

    This is a nice fresh idea especially if you are in need of a quick change to make your home more aesthetically pleasing.

    Wayne@Palatine Hardwood Restoration and Refinishing