What are floating floorboards?
A floating floorboard refers to a wood flooring that isn’t nailed down or glued to the layer beneath it. Originally it was created as a hardwood option for underlays that couldn’t accommodate other forms of wooden flooring, but the relatively cheap price and ease of installation has made it a popular DIY project for lots of Aussie homeowners.
It’s one of the easiest forms of hardwood to install, to the point where you can actually finish the installation process within a matter of minutes. And while it’s still preferable to have a professional lay it down, pretty much anyone can learn how to lay it themselves.
Appearance and cost of floating timber floors
Appearance-wise, floating floorboards are almost identical to other flooring options like laminate hardwood and engineered timber. They can differ in thickness depending on their application, but are generally thinner than your average flooring plank. They come in a variety of options like bamboo and oak, which can be trimmed and cut to fit!
But the best part is the price! Installing floating floorboards costs much less than engineered timber flooring because it requires no specialised tools. It’s even possible to install an entire floor by yourself.
Compare and contrast with laminate hardwood and engineered timber flooring
How do floating floorboards compare to other flooring options? Here’s a quick rundown:
This is one of the biggest drawbacks of getting floating floorboards: unless it’s specifically treated to be waterproof or cut from a water-resistant wood, it won’t hold up well against moisture. Laminate hardwood and engineered timber repel moisture and will last far longer than floating timber in damp conditions.
Floating floorboards are available pre-finished, so they come in planks that you can quickly install and replace. Compared to laminate flooring and engineered timber, a floating floorboard only has one solid wood layer. However, depending on the different trims available, you can have this adjusted if you’re having it finished on-site.
The durability of a floating floorboard depends on the layer it’s sitting on and foot traffic. Foot traffic can have a tremendous impact on flooring over time, leaving little scratches and dents that can be hard to repair. Because floating floorboards are a single layered wood, it generally copes well with dents and lots of foot traffic. Laminate wood cracks under pressure due to its coated top layer, while engineered timber is less durable.
Installing and maintaining a floating floor
You can easily install floating floorboards over most subfloors like concrete, stone, and other treated subflooring. Simply lay the floorboards on top of the subfloor’s surface and make sure they stay in place – there are some pre-finished floorboards that lock with each other for extra stability. You can also install floating subfloors over under-the-floor heating, but make sure the kind of wood you’re using can withstand the temperature.
Maintenance of a floating timber floor is easy: simply switch out floorboards when you need to. Since they’re not nailed or glued down to the subfloor beneath, there’s no need to do any additional repairs after replacing each plank. This does mean that the majority of your repair costs will come from buying new floating floorboards, which can cost quite a bit depending on the frequency of damage.
Fortunately, it isn’t that hard to take the extra steps needed to protect floating timber floors. Placing an extra layer on top is the least expensive option. Another option is to reinforce the subfloor with concrete to prevent buckling.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get a beautiful wooden floor give floating floorboards a try! They’re likely available at your nearest Ikea or Bunnings and can be installed with little to no trouble at all.
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