The pro’s and con’s of a floating wood floor

When considering a new wood floor covering, everyone will be met with the term floating floor at some point during the search process, but few will truly know the pro’s and con’s of this method of installing a wood based floor covering. Well, here is a handy guide to the pro’s and con’s of a floating wood floor..

The Con’s

  • A floating wood floor can sound hollow or give an echo when walked on. This is due to the impact noise absorption being greatly reduced as it is easier for the sound vibrations to travel between the underlay and wood floor. This hollow sound can be reduced with better quality underlays but a floating floor, regardless of underlay quality, will never have the firm solid sound of a permanently fixed wood floor.
  • The majority of floating wood floors have thin veneer top surfaces that can only be sanding once or twice. Whereas a solid wood floor that is permanently fixed can often be sanded multiple times due to the top surface being thicker. This is subject to the amount of wood that is required  to be removed from the surface. Should you be considering a laminate floating floor, sanding is not possible at all.
  • As a floating floor is not fixed to the sub-floor, any slight undulations in the sub-floor can result in movement when the floating floor is walked on. It is not uncommon to see furniture move as it is walked past. This phenomenon can also be a result of the slight compression properties of an underlay.
  • Leading on from movement, floating floors, particularly engineered wood floating floors can  sometimes be creaky. Again, often due to an uneven sub-floor. Although, this is not to suggest that permanently fixed wood floors will be creak free!
  • Depending on the quality of the floating wood floor, they can occasionally look a little cheap,  even when bought at a premium. A good deal of shopping around should be done to get the finish and look you want. I often suggest, a good place to start is choosing a floating wood floor produced with a full grain on the top surface opposed to a block effect within each board.

The pro’s 

  • Installing Parador trendtime 3 Herringbone Oak flooringA huge advantage of using a floating wood floor is the speed. The more traditional techniques of fixing a wood floor to the sub-floor by means of using adhesives, nails or screws can be extremely time consuming.
  • With the increase in speed comes the advantage of a cheaper installation, should you be hiring an installer to do the job.
  • There’s far less mess installing a wood floor on top of an underlay (floating).
  • Floating wood floors are far more stable when it comes to humidity/climate changes in a property.
  • Should you have multiple sub-floor types i.e. some parts of your property may be floorboards and others parts concrete etc, installing a wood floor on top of an underlay can solve a multitude of problems and make the whole process far easier and less complicated. For example, should you be nailing a permanently fixed floor on to floorboards and part of the rooms sub-floor is concrete, you would have to use an alternative method of fixing like the use of adhesive in that area. Alternating fixing methods in a single room can be disastrous!
  • Floating wood floors are often far cheaper that solid permanently fixed wood floors.
  • When installing a wood floor using the floating method, generally, you will be able to use the floor straight away. No need to wait for adhesives to go off. There are exceptions when using a floating wood floor with a basic tongue and groove mechanism that will be joined with the use of pva adhesive.
  • When a glue free floating wood floor is installed, it can often be taken up and re-installed. There are many advantages to this such as; The future need to easily gain access to pipes, electrics etc underneath the floorboards. The potential to easily replace a damaged plank. The re-use of the wood floor in another room or even a another home in the future.
  • Silver Underlay with built in vapour barrierIn some properties, we find clients do not wish to damage their original sub-floor with the use of nails, screws or adhesives that would be used with a permanently fixed (non-floating) wood floor. Perhaps the property is old and carries character and value through it’s original sub-floor or the current sub-floor is in good condition and our clients do not wish to damage it as a floating floor can be removed and the original sub-floor can be brought back to life at a later date. A floating wood floor does not damage the original sub-floor in anyway.

Now you have a greater understanding as to the pro’s and con’s of a floating wood floor, it’s time to carry on with your empowered search. You should evaluate your property, your circumstances and your requirements and decide what type of wood floor is right for you. One of the first decisions is, shall you go for a floating wood floor or solid permanently fixed wood floor? It’s up to YOU!

© Copyright 2013 Wes, All rights Reserved. Written For: Fitmywoodfloor

I am a Pergo trained professional installer of 20 years. I've been up close and personal with lots of floors and have the knobbly knees to show for it...Should you have any questions or comments please feel free to add them below. Thanks for taking the time to call by and I hope the information you've found has given you some insight!........................................................................................................................................................................“When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in the site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network,,,,,,, affiliate window network.” This statement is to comply with current internet regulations regarding transparency to consumers.

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