What is a floating floor?
Floating floors have become increasingly popular over the last decade, and can now be found in most UK households – yet they’re still incredibly misunderstood.
After all, the word ‘floating’ certainly leaves a lot to the imagination…
From learning exactly what is a floating floor to which flooring options you can technically ‘float’, here our in-house experts attempt to clear things up once and for all.
Spoiler alert – no magicians or levitation tricks are required.
A quick and easy method of installation
Contrary to popular belief, the term ‘floating floor’ doesn’t refer to a specific type of flooring. It’s just a method of installation – which can be used with a variety of different coverings.
Some of the most common examples include laminate, vinyl, engineered wood and hardwood.
In most cases, these don’t need to be glued down or secured in place with nails. Instead, the individual planks or tiles simply fit together via a tongue-and-groove mechanism or interlocking system – forming a single mat-like surface, which just rests (or floats!) on top of the subfloor.
They’re fuss-free yet effective. A little bit like magic – but not.
The pros and cons of a floating floor installation
Over the last few years, floating floors have become a firm favourite with homeowners and contractors alike – primarily, because they’re so quick, easy and affordable to install.
In fact, they don’t usually need to be installed professionally. Whether you’re an amateur DIYer or a seasoned handyman, with the help of the instruction manual, it’s possible to lay a floating floor in just a few hours. Saving yourself a lot of time, hassle, and money in the process.
There’s just one thing that’s essential to your success.
To get the best results from a floating floor installation, the subfloor needs to be very carefully prepared. Any unevenness in the concrete or floorboards can lead to creakiness, flexing, buckling and cracks – so it’s crucial that the surface is as flat, smooth and solid as possible.
As they’re simply laid on top of the subfloor (and not secured in place), floating floors can also sometimes feel a little hollow underfoot – particularly if you choose a rigid material such as laminate.
But the good news is, these disadvantages are actually very minor – and they can be very easily overcome with the addition of a high-quality layer of floating floor underlay.
Sandwiched between your chosen floor covering and the subfloor, underlay will help to level out the surface – creating the ideal conditions for the installation and improving stability. Plus, the extra layer helps to absorb any movement or flexing, therefore making the floor much softer, quieter and generally more comfortable to walk on.
Three types of floating floor
And the recommended underlay to pair with each.
Laminate is a prime example of a floating floor.
The individual planks are rarely glued or nailed in place. But rather, they’re usually joined together along the edges via a tongue-and-groove system – commonly known as ‘click and lock’.
At one time, laminate flooring had a bad reputation for its low quality and unrealistic appearance. But nowadays – thanks to advances in technology – it’s considerably more authentic. And has become a low-maintenance yet durable option, with an average lifespan of around 20-30 years.
To maximise this longevity, we typically recommend pairing laminate with Royale 7mm Professional Sonic Gold Underlay.
Regarded as the industry’s no.1 underlay for laminate, this measures 7mm thick and is made from a unique high-density foam – which makes it particularly effective at levelling any imperfections (such as bumps and dips) in the subfloor and ensuring your covering is as stable as possible.
It also boasts a 5* durability rating, offers excellent thermal protection, reduces noise by up to 37dB and will significantly enhance the final look and feel of your laminate.
2. Luxury vinyl tiles (LVT)
LVT is another popular type of flooring that’s installed via the floating method.
Some tiles are semi-flexible, whilst others are rigid. Either way, the individual pieces typically lock together via a tongue-and-groove system – in much the same fashion as laminate planks.
Aside from its quick and easy installation, LVT offers a lot of benefits.
Not only does it mimic the on-trend colours and textures of hardwood and natural stone, it’s comfortable underfoot, easy to maintain, waterproof and incredibly hard-wearing. In fact, if paired with the right LVT underlay, it can last for up to 25-30 years – even in high-traffic areas of the home.
Our current recommendation is Royale LVT Vinyl Underlay – which is suitable for use with click and non-click systems by QuickStep, Amtico, Karndean etc., and available for £3.60 per m2.
Crafted from impact-resistant toughened foam with a silver foil backing, this leading underlay is designed to improve the stability of your vinyl tiles – by levelling out the subfloor and preventing any unwanted movement.
Thanks to its high-density construction and integrated damp-proof membrane, it also provides extra protection for your LVT – improving its overall thermal insulation and reducing noise by 20dB.
3. Engineered wood flooring
Whilst some engineered wood flooring still requires nailing or stapling into place, most brands now offer a floating floor option – in which, again, the individual planks are simply clicked together.
Made from cross-layered plywood, with a layer of real hardwood on top, this is a particularly luxurious option. It looks like real wood, yet it doesn’t come with the same eye-watering price tag. And, what’s more, it’s extremely durable – making it a fantastic long-lasting investment for your home.
To ensure you get the best results, again, for this particular type of floating floor, we’d recommend adding a layer of Royale 7mm Professional Sonic Gold Underlay. Just like with laminate, this wood floor underlay will increase the stability of the engineered wood planks and improve their overall look and feel.
Float your flooring with our underlays
If you’re about to install a floating floor, good news – whether you’ve chosen laminate, LVT, engineered wood or solid hardwood, you’ll find the perfect underlay to match in our store.
For most projects, we usually advise using one of the two floating floor underlays specified above. But we also have a wide range of alternative options available, with something to suit all preferences, requirements and budgets. So why not take a look?
Keep in mind, you’re always welcome to get in touch.
If you have any questions about floating floors, or are still unsure of the best underlay for your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Simply give us a call on 0203 887 0994. Or if you prefer, send an email to email@example.com and a member of the team will respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.
- Alex Illidge