It’s hard to imagine a house being cozy without the warmth of wood flooring. The quickest way to get new wood underfoot is to install a floating floor. Unlike traditional solid-wood strips, a floating floor isn’t nailed down. Instead, the planks are either glued or snapped together.

Floating floorThe planks go down fast, over virtually any material—concrete, plywood, sheet vinyl, even ceramic tile. There are several floating floor materials available, but if you want real wood, the best choice is engineered flooring. This sandwich of wood veneer glued to layers of pine or plywood looks like solid wood and is very stable.

Although engineered flooring’s thin veneer can’t be sanded as many times as solid wood can, its thick factory-applied coating is more durable than one applied in your home on solid wood, and it will be ready for furniture in just one day.

Engineered flooring goes down over a thin foam sheet, which provides cushioning and sound-dampening. The planks glue together to create a floor that “floats” — moves freely — as a unit. You need to leave a 5/16-inch gap between the flooring and the baseboard or wall around the perimeter of the room to allow the floor enough space to expand. In most cases, you can install the flooring without removing existing baseboard, concealing the expansion gap with shoe molding (or quarter-round, which is wider).

Or, you can remove the baseboard, lay the flooring, and then reinstall the baseboard on top. Regardless of which method you use, nail the molding to the wall, not the flooring, so the floor can move.