Sadly, this is not a magic item. It specifically refers to how certain floors may be installed. You’ll see it described as a floor which is left free to “float” over the subfloor, the wood or concrete base on which you’re installing your new flooring. While accurate, this still threatens to leave a confusing image in the mind, of a floor that slides around under foot as you walk on it. This is also not the case. Basically, a floating floor is one which, when securely installed into your room, is not directly attached to the subfloor, neither by a glue, nor with nails or staples. The pieces are connected to each other on all four sides, and the overall friction underneath the entire floor keeps each piece in place.
The broadest terms for the way the pieces of flooring lock together are “click together,” “click and lock,” or similar terms usually involving “click”, because most of them do. When the edges of two pieces are joined as instructed, they lock together. The specific kind of locking system will depend first on the material. Floating floors are the primary type of laminate flooring available, are common in engineered hardwood, and have even recently become available in vinyl plank flooring as well. In hardwood, you usually have a very basic “tongue and groove” system, and it requires glue where the two join together. For laminate, some require glue in the seams and some don’t, and the many systems have a single broad difference in one step. Some are fall under an “angle angle” style, and some are “drop and lock” type systems. Within these, each manufacturer has its own specific cut for the mechanisms, but in the most general sense, you have a click together locking system, and maybe some glue.
With a floating floor, you lose the hassle, noise, and needed skills related to nailing or stapling planks to a subfloor. Therefore they can go into places where nailing down a floor is not recommended such as concrete or particle board. They can go right over most existing flooring. They are comparatively easy to install, which saves you money, and they can be taken up and re-used in another home if you move.
Despite the ease and flexibility, there are still some musts with a floating floor. The biggest is that your subfloor still needs to be level. There can be no hills or valleys, otherwise your planks will not lock together, and even in areas where that’s possible, you may still hear squeaking when you walk. Floating floors are already louder than floors which are attached, so many employ padding, a 2 to 5 millimeter cushion which goes between the floating floor and that upon which it sits.
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David is a Writer at Floors To Your Home (.com), as well as the PPC Manager, a Marketing Strategy Team member, a Researcher, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jitō. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, explore film history, mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’) and write non-fiction for my friends. Connect with me on W. David Lichty’s Google+