How to install floating wood flooring over concrete

Updated February 21, 2017

Manufactured wood flooring provides an efficient and attractive surface while also adding insulation and reducing acoustical noise in the room. Floating floor strips connect only to each other, forming a solid surface. When installing a floating floor over concrete, preparation and a vapour barrier are essential to the quality of the finished product.

Prepare the concrete floor by using a laser level to determine if fluctuating grade is present. Use levelling stone, if necessary, to make the floor even. Fill large cracks and repair any moisture concerns before installing the flooring. Sweep the floor thoroughly, leaving no dust or debris.

Find the longest wall and install the vapour barrier perpendicular to that wall. Since you will install the actual flooring parallel to the longest wall, the vapour barrier will run in the opposite direction. This reduces the incidence of a barrier seam and a flooring seam breaking on the same line. If the vapour barrier calls for staples, use plastic tape instead.

Begin in one corner along the longest wall and lay the first strip of flooring. Since this is a floating floor, it is imperative that it remain free to move independently of the concrete below. Place a 6 mm (1/4 inch) spacer between the end of the first strip and the wall. Place additional spacers every foot along the wall as you add flooring strips.

Place your rubber block at the end of the second strip and gently tap the block with the rubber mallet to drive the opposite tongue into the groove on the first strip of flooring. Avoid tapping the end of the strip directly; it may damage the manufactured groove. Repeat the process, adding additional strips until you've assembled one long row of flooring along the wall.

Cut the last piece of flooring to fit into the space at the end of the row, making sure to allow for a 6 mm (1/4 inch) gap at the end of the row. On a floating floor, a gap must be present on all sides of the flooring strips. Place a spacer in that gap after installing the strip.

Start the next row with the cut off piece from the previous row. In this way, you will stagger the seams of each row. If you had less than 30 cm (1 foot) left over from the previous row, use a new piece and cut it in half to start your new row.

Hold the new strip at a 45-degree angle to the installed strip and press gently to fit the tongue into the groove. It should snap in easily. When it does, install another one right beside it in the same way. Use your rubber block to gently tap each strip into the groove of the previous strip.

Repeat this process until you come to the last row on the opposite side of the room. You may have to trim the last row in order to make the width fit into the space correctly. Make sure to allow for the 6 mm (1/4 inch) space. Remove all the spacers after the entire floor is installed.


Install skirting board when the floating floor is in place. Nail the skirting board to the wall, not to the floor. The skirting board will cover the 6 mm (1/4 inch) gap, but the floor will still expand and contract imperceptibly with temperature changes.

Things You'll Need

  • Laser level
  • Concrete levelling stone (if needed)
  • Vapour barrier
  • Floating floor materials
  • Circular saw (or table saw)
  • Measuring tape
  • Rubber block
  • Rubber mallet
  • Spacers
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About the Author

Glenda Taylor is a contractor and a full-time writer specializing in construction writing. She also enjoys writing business and finance, food and drink and pet-related articles. Her education includes marketing and a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.