What are Floating Floors?
What are floating floors?
Floating floors have become a popular choice in recent years across both the residential and commercial sectors. Floating floorboards were a welcome addition to the flooring market due to their ease of installation and their affordability when compared to more traditional wooden floors. The key feature of floating floors is, as the name states, the floor ‘floats’ and is not physically bonded to the substrate. Traditionally, timber floors and carpet have been nailed or glued to the subfloor. Floating floors rest on the subfloor and are stabilised in various ways.
What are the different types of floating floors?
There are five main types of floating floors used in both the residential and commercial construction industry. Below is a brief description on some key properties of these each of these types of floating flooring.
Engineered timber floors provide a look and feel closest to solid timber floors. The individual flooring planks generally consist of a multi-layer, plantation-grown timber with a feature timber veneer top. The timber veneer top can range in thicknesses from 3mm to 6mm depending on the properties of the timber species and the cost of the flooring. Engineered timber is considered a luxury flooring option, although it is much cheaper than solid wood floorboards.
Read more about engineered timber in our dedicated article – Spotlight on Engineered Timber Flooring
Hybrid floating floors take the best aspects from vinyl and laminate flooring options and combine them into one. The hybrid boards generally consist of a composite waterproof core with an artistic wood grain pattern top layer. These floors are a newer technology and have become popular due to their durability, ease of maintenance and affordability.
Read more about hybrid flooring in our dedicated article – Hybrid Flooring: What you need to know
Laminate floating floors are a great option for high traffic areas in the home or commercial spaces as they feature a scratch resistant top layer. Laminate floating floors come in a variety of different timber grain patterns and some boards incorporate wood grain texture to the top layer to provide a realistic look and feel.
Read more about laminate flooring in our comparison article – Hybrid, Laminate or Vinyl Flooring?
Bamboo floating floors are generally solid in construction, and lower in cost than hardwood floors. Bamboo is a sustainable eco-friendly timber option, which adds to its appeal. With distinct striations and its ability to take coloured stains, bamboo is a hardy and versatile flooring option.
Read more about bamboo flooring in our species profile article – Species Profile: Bamboo Flooring
Vinyl floating floors are a great budget option and come in a variety of stylish patterns. Similar to hybrid boards, the vinyl boards consist of a composite core with a vinyl top.
Read more about vinyl flooring in our comparison article – Hybrid, Laminate or Vinyl Flooring?
What are the benefits of floating floors?
One of the advantages to floating floors when compared to traditional flooring methods is cost. Floating floorboards are generally cheaper per square metre, similarly the cost to install is also cheaper due to the ease of installation.
Time to install
Floating floorboards have been specifically designed to be quick and easy to install. As the boards do not require any mechanical fixings such as glues or nails, installation is much faster than traditional flooring methods. Floating floors generally have an engineered click lock system which ensures the planks stay together. The boards are easy to install, and most can be installed by hand with the assistance of a rubber mallet.
A lot of floating floors are considered eco-friendly due to their source materials. Some boards feature sustainable plantation grown cores with thin veneer top layers of slower grown hardwoods. Bamboo is another eco-friendly choice of flooring due to the fast growing nature of bamboo and the limited chemicals used during the growth of the raw bamboo.
A lot of floating floor types have some level of water resistance rating including some types that are 100% waterproof. When selecting flooring it is important to consider where the product will be installed and if a waterproof type of floating floor will be required.
It is important to clean up spills quickly where a low waterproof rated option of flooring is used to prevent discolouration, cupping and swelling of the flooring.
What are the disadvantages to floating floors?
Some applications such a multi residential buildings have specific noise dB limits for flooring to ensure the sound does not transfer to the other occupants. When considering floating floors it is important to look at the noise properties of both the flooring and underlay if required. Some floating floors may not be suitable where low noise limits are required. Noise cancelling underlays are a good solution to this issue. Speak to our knowledgeable team at Back to Timber if you have certain noise requirements.
Floating floors are installed with an engineered clip lock system from one side of the room to the other. If damage occurs in the centre of the room, replacement of this board will be required as many types of floating floors cannot be refinished. Due to the clip lock installation method working from one side of the room to the other, all boards from the edge of the room up to the point of damage will need to be lifted to access the damaged section. As there are no mechanical fixings this is an easy process of simply unclicking and uninstalling the boards up to the point of damage, replacing the damaged section and then relaying the unaffected boards. Whether this process is easier or harder than repairing traditional flooring depends on the damage, the flooring type, the finishing, and the space it’s in.
Floating floors come in a wide range of materials and patterns, each having different pros and cons. There is a floating floor type to suit most applications and they offer a great cost-saving alternative where traditional flooring types are not financially viable or suited to the use of the room.
For more information about any of the flooring types in this article or questions specific to your space, contact the experienced Back to Timber team or visit us in one of our four showrooms across Sydney.