How to Install Floating Hardwood Floor
Nowadays, with several flooring techniques at hand, floating remains one of the most popular. Floating hardwood flooring has some disadvantages, such as the feeling of mild instability when you walk over it, or the long-term problems that may arise if you don’t install it correctly. Here we discuss how to install floating hardwood floor properly.
Amongst all the types of wood that are popularly used with floating hardwood, oak is probably the best choice, so if you’re planning to use this kind of flooring, oak is the way to go. But let’s take a look at what you need to install it yourself.
Tools and Accessories
- Cutter knife – You will need a cutter knife for several reasons while you’re installing the floor, such as for cutting open the panel boxes, making small adjustments to the end panels that don’t fit or scraping off bumps on the subfloor. Keep it handy!
- Cushion surface – One of the things that make floating hardwood floor great is the fact that it uses a cushioned surface between itself and the ground. The difference is noticeable since it is much more comfortable walking on a surface that is cushioned rather than one that isn’t.
- Saw – You’ll need a saw for cutting panels to fit perfectly, based on the guidelines you trace with the carpenter’s crayon. Either uses jigsaw or circular saw for this type of work.
- Carpenter’s crayon – This will be one of your most precious tools since there will be a lot of panel cutting involved. The deeper you get into the installation process, the more you will have to cut since the pieces of the panel will start to fit in weird patterns, you’ll have obstacles to make sure your panels avoid and so forth. For all these, your crayon will be essential.
- Drill and nails – To fix your floor panels, you will have to nail them properly to the wall strips using any nail gun. Use a pneumatic drill and make sure you don’t go too thick with the nails. Otherwise, you risk making the floor curl up in the long run.
- Adhesive – You can connect the panels without any adhesive, but in the long run, that’s not a very good idea. Just use some adhesive on the tongue end of each panel when connecting it to the next one, then clean up the excess adhesive coming up from the joint.
- Rubber mallet – You’ll use this mallet to get the panels to fit better, hammering them gently on their ends. Don’t hit the panels too hard, or you’ll damage the surface at the joint.
- Clawhammer – You’ll need a claw hammer for areas where the mallet won’t be usable, for example with tiles that are near the wall and you have no room for it.
- Broom, dustpan, soft cloth – for when it’s time to do the dirty work and get everything cleaned up. This doesn’t just include the finishing clean up since you’ll also need to handle the broom now and then to clear up sawdust and other stuff that will mess up the room and can interfere with the installation or the wellbeing of the hardwood floor in the long run.
Related – List of tools for WoodWorking Project
First, set up your cushioning sheet around the room’s floor, cutting it to fit around the walls with the help of your cutter. It’s best if you can cut smaller pieces of the substrate rather than just applying one large sheet across the entire floor (it’s easier to cut and manage).
It’s also a good idea to try and make your first surface as clean and as level as possible. Make sure there are no pebbles, pieces of wood or dust molds on top of it, as they can create bumps later on, and even damage your flooring.
Ok, it’s not as important as if you were installing the hardwood floor using the glue down method, where the ground needs to be squeaky clean and perfectly level, but you’ll still want to be safe about it.
Related – Nail down Technique
How to Install Floating Hardwood Floor – Step by Step Instructions
- Place the cushioning sheet around the room. Cut it to pieces that go on the same direction as you will place the panel rows and make it so the cushioning sheet can hold 3-4 panel rows on its width. This way it will be easier to manage.
- Grab a panel and position it with the groove ends towards the corner walls (the ends that have the small cavity in them, not the ones sticking out)
- Apply adhesive on the width tongue of your initial panel.
- Connect the next panel and secure it. Make sure you connect the second panel close to when you applied the adhesive, or it will dry out.
- Use the mallet to press the panels together gently, or if you’ve reached the wall and have no room to work around with the mallet, use the claw hammer and gently pull the panel towards you, facing the wall.
- When you reached the end of the first row, cut the last panel so that it fits in the remaining distance and use the piece that you have left to start the next row (this allows you to avoid getting panels that are lined up).
- After a while, a problem might occur with this pattern: you might end up having a cut piece that is close in length as the first one in the row before it. You can store this cut piece aside for a while and start with a new panel because you don’t want to ruin the connective joint alignment you worked so hard to get until now.
- After connecting each panel, use a soft cloth to clean the adhesive that might be coming out from the joints.
- Once the entire floating floor is finished and the room is covered, place the wall strips and nail them to the wall and the floor, securing it and making it more stable and aesthetic.
It’s essential that you measured the distance of the floor panels inch-perfect now because if the panels don’t reach the strips half-way through, you won’t have anything to connect them to. This is not a problem for one or two rows, but it does become a real stability problem if more rows are in this situation.
Related – Glue down Method
Clean Up Tips
When working with doing it yourself hardwood floors, making a mess of things is not unusual, but floating floors are extra messy because you’ll always be cutting, gluing and adjusting stuff with your cutter.
A final clean-up is needed, but don’t forget to clean up during the installation as well. This way, you can avoid larger chunks of wood to get beneath your panel, creating bumps in the long run.
After all, is done, get a wet mop and start cleaning the floor of dust particles and dirt. It’s usually not safe to leave water on your hardwood floor because it might swell up or create bumps, so after mopping the floor, clear the water with a dry cloth again.
Related – Staple down Technique
- Cut your cushioning sheets in rows that can fit 3-4 panel widths on top, to manage them more accessible.
- It doesn’t matter if the cushioning sheets overlap, nor if they are slightly separated.
- Press each new panel down and fix it in position properly before moving to the next. It’s a lot harder to adjust your work later on, rather than have it done right in the first place.
- Be careful when fixing panels…they’re somewhat fragile and you’re working with mallets, claw hammers, nails, and the likes. Avoid getting the panel surfaces to “burst” at the connection joints because they can be pretty ugly and visible.
- Panel surfaces that connect the rows horizontally are less likely to burst because of a miss weighted mallet strike but don’t overdo it.
- When you have to cut the last panel in a row to fit it in a shorter distance, be very careful at which end you’re cutting! It’s such a common mistake for newcomers to cut from the wrong half and end up with two broken panel bits that they have to throw away.
This is not just wasting your money, but if it happens with several panels, you will run out of them, and you will also be wasting time traveling back to the shop to get more panels.
Video Credit – Howcast
Floating hardwood floor is easy to install and remove, so it’s great as a temporary solution or if you’re the type of person that likes to change his décor a lot. However, floating floors are also quite comfortable, because of the cushioning they use, when compared to glue down floors for example.