Wood Flooring Installation
A. FLOATING ON UNDERLAY
Wood flooring floating installation is a popular method of installing hardwood or engineered wood floors. Unlike traditional methods, such as nailing or gluing the planks directly to the subfloor, floating installation refers to a technique where the individual floorboards are not attached to the subfloor but rather interlock with each other to create a unified surface.
Here's a step-by-step description of a typical wood flooring floating installation process:
- Subfloor preparation: Ensure the subfloor is clean, dry, level, and free of any debris or imperfections. It is crucial to have a smooth and stable base for the floating floor to lay on.
- Moisture barrier: In some cases, a moisture barrier is installed on top of the subfloor to protect the wood from moisture rising from the ground. This is especially important when installing over concrete or in humid environments.
- Underlayment: An underlayment material is then placed over the moisture barrier or directly on the subfloor. The underlayment acts as a cushion, reduces noise transmission, and helps smooth out minor irregularities in the subfloor.
- Begin installation: Start laying the first row of floorboards along one wall of the room, with the tongue side facing the wall. The tongue-and-groove system is a key feature of most floating wood floors, allowing the planks to interlock securely.
- Interlocking planks: For each subsequent row, connect the planks together by angling the tongue of one plank into the groove of the previous plank and gently tapping them together using a rubber mallet or a tapping block.
- Staggering the joints: To create a stable and aesthetically pleasing installation, stagger the end joints of adjacent rows. This helps to distribute weight and minimizes the risk of forming visible seams.
- Cutting and fitting: As you reach the walls or obstacles in the room, you will likely need to cut planks to fit. Use a saw to make precise cuts and ensure a snug fit. Leave a small expansion gap (usually around ¼ inch) between the flooring and the walls to allow for natural expansion and contraction of the wood.
- Completing the installation: Continue laying rows of planks until you cover the entire floor area. In the final row, you might need to trim the planks to fit the remaining space. Be cautious when tapping the last rows to avoid damaging the wall.
- Baseboards and transitions: Install baseboards or quarter-round molding around the perimeter of the room to cover the expansion gap and provide a finished look. Use transition pieces where the wood floor meets other types of flooring (e.g., carpet, tile) to create a smooth and attractive border.
Floating wood flooring offers several advantages, including ease of installation, potential for DIY projects, and the ability to install over various subfloor types. However, it's essential to use high-quality materials, follow manufacturer guidelines, and ensure proper acclimatization of the wood to the room's environment before installation to achieve a successful and long-lasting result.