About Home Renovations received a message from Susan Christiansen of Kährs International correcting our previous glossary definition of “floating floor”as a type of floor.  She says:

I have a problem with the use of the word “floating” to define a product. In fact, “floating” is an installation method. Kährs manufactures engineered hardwood floors that can be floated, glued or nailed down. I’m sure other manufacturers would agree with me.

She’s right. But why would you install a floor using the floating floor method? Isn’t it better to nail the floor down? Wouldn’t that be more secure?

Floating Floor Installation – Why?

MethodWell, if only because floors employing the floating or float-in method are fast becoming the standard. Long ago and far away, you had only a few icky, plastic-looking styles to choose from. Have you ever walked on a first-generation laminate floor? It’s more like walking on sheets of Formica. Laminate and engineered flooring–the two main types of flooring that can be floated–are now being produced with textures that feel good underfoot and with a solidity rivaling solid hardwood.

Nail-down tongue and groove flooring is still a popular choice, but it’s competing for space in flooring stores with engineered and laminate.

Really, the term is changing to “staple down” because hardwood floor installers use 1-inch staples driven in by air-compressed floor staplers.

In the case of solid hardwood, it has to be nailed or stapled down. There is no floating installation option.

Floating Floor Installation – Advantages

Relative to the nail- or staple-down option, floating floor installation is easier. A homeowner expecting to float 800 square feet of laminate next Saturday, though, will be sorely disappointed. Floating installation still has its own learning curve. But the learning curve does not involve the handling of a Stanley-Bostich floor stapler, which is a good thing.

Floors installed via the float-in method allow for slight variations of movement and expansion/contraction of the floor. In fact, it is required that floor installers allow for room around the edges of the flooring for this expansion/contraction.

Also, having done my share of demolition, including ripping out nailed-down hardwood, I can tell you that flooring installed by float-in method is much easier to pull out. There is hardly anything to it, in fact.