Floating floorboards are pre-adhered flooring alternative which is installed over the top of an underlayment, “floating” above the subfloor. Their installation process is extremely easy as they do not require nails or glue to fix them into place – they interlock at the edges and form a single unit on top of the original floor.
This makes them a popular choice for the crafty DIY-er, especially given that floating floorboards exist for multiple different materials. These materials include: laminate flooring, hybrid flooring, engineered timber flooring, hardwood, bamboo, oak, and luxury vinyl.
Floating floorboards are generally some of the cheapest flooring options on the market, particularly if you consider the amount that will be saved on installation prices. Floating timber floors are one of the more expensive types of floating floorboards and will cost on average between $60-150 per meter squared, while the cheapest floating floorboard material (laminate) can cost as little as $25 per square meter. However, timber is also one of the highest quality materials and avoids many of the pitfalls that laminate does not, such as a fake appearance or feeling too hollow underfoot.
Floating timber floorboards are often indistinguishable from traditionally installed timber flooring. Just like regular timber floorboards, floating floorboards are extremely versatile and come in many different shades and finishes. Any gap between the walls and the floor can be easily hidden with trims.
The feel of the floor underfoot can be a point of contention for floating floors as many people find that floating floors feel somewhat hollow. This is especially true of laminates, but it is worth considering for timber if you are thinking of installing a timber floor.
Choosing a floating floor that feels authentic will mostly depend on the quality of the material that you purchase; the cheaper it is, the thinner it will feel. A quality foam underlay should prevent this feeling altogether, so try and be vigilant that you will be getting the best possible option here.
The durability of floating floors will depend greatly on the amount of foot traffic they see over time. Timber floors are one of the most durable options of all floating floors and will cope adequately with dents and scratches. Laminate wood and vinyl is likely to crack or wear much faster under high volume foot traffic. However, timber is harder to waterproof, requiring chemical sealing and coating, and you need to be more conscious to avoid water damage, including during the maintenance of your floor.
The advantages to a floating timber floor are numerous.
First and foremost, this is what truly sets floating floors apart from other flooring methods. How to lay floating floors: The installation process is extremely quick and easy, cutting down on expenses of contractors as well as maintenance costs because a new plank can always be installed in the place of a damaged one.
One of the only attemptable DIY flooring styles, the process of floating floor installation involves prepping the subfloor (ensuring it is smooth/flat), applying the underlayment over the subfloor (generally foam – the higher quality, the more authentic your floor will feel), and then assembling the floorboards over the top. Floating floors can be installed on carpet and on concrete – practically any surface will support floating floors.
Floating timber floors are more affordable than traditional solid timber flooring. They are also more sustainable as they require lesser amounts of high-carbon-footprint timber. In the short term, the beforementioned simplicity of their installation makes them one of the least expensive flooring options as you save on labor and material costs.
They remain affordable in the long term as repairs can be localized to the individual planks of concern, meaning that one single damage plank can be removed instead of having to redo the entire floor. Preparing a home for a floating floor is also inexpensive, because floating floors can be installed over virtually any existing flooring style.
Timber floating floors come in a diverse variety of styles. This ensures that you will be able to find a colour and tone which will blend with the décor of your house. Popular choices include pale oak, bamboo, herringbone, natural and dark brown woods. See the list of brands for pricing and product acquisition information.
Because floating timber floors are usually made of engineered timber (hardwood layered over a high-density substrate) they have a few drawbacks when compared to traditional solid timber floors. Common problems with floating floors are that they sound and feel hollow underfoot.
While timber is less susceptible to this than laminate, it is still a concern and if possible you may want to acquire a sample or some other way to test the feeling of a floating floor before committing to the purchase.
Floating floors require a flat surface for installation. If the subfloor deviates by more than 3mm over 2m then the floorboards are highly likely to creak and will be harder to install. However, this challenge is not unique to only floating floors as an uneven floor will be challenging for the installation of any major type of hard floor. One unique problem that floating floors present is that they will raise the height of the floor overall. You should measure out the exact amount by which your floor will be raised and try to judge whether it will make the room feel too claustrophobic (especially if you already have low ceilings).
For timber floating floors, maintenance could be considered both an advantage and a disadvantage. Generally, the upkeep is easier than most flooring options because individual damaged floorboards can be replaced. However, the overall lifespan is shorter than traditional solid timber floors. Floating timber floors cannot be re-sanded multiple times like solid timber floors can.
There are many high quality floating timber floorboard provides across Australia. Some of the best brands from which to buy your floating timber floors include:
Skov: with an extensive range of natural, black, herringbone, brown, grey, and white floors, you are sure to find something that suits your preferences here.
The Flooring Guys: with a gorgeous range of light, vintage woods and some sophisticated dark options, browse high quality timber floating floorboards here.
Ikea: browse their flooring options here.
Bunnings: this would not be an article about Australian flooring without a link to the beloved Bunnings Warehouse. Browse here for some high quality and affordable floating floorboards with consistently good reviews, like the Palomino Oak sample pictured above.
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