How to Install a Floating Engineered Wood Floor

Written by rohana chomick
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If you like the look of hardwood floors, a floating engineered floor may be the answer for you. Boasting the appearance of hardwood but not the difficult installation, a floating floor is placed on top of your existing floor, be it concrete, vinyl tile, plywood, particle board or ceramic tile. No nailing or surface gluing is required. The tongue-and-groove engineered planks look like solid wood but they are hardier and much easier to install. The planks are either snapped or glued together and simply laid over a thin foam sheet covering the subfloor. In 24 hours, your new floating engineered wood floor is ready for furniture.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Patching compound
  • Sandpaper
  • Foam sheet underlayment
  • Engineered wood planks
  • Flush-cut/dovetail saw
  • Vacuum
  • Utility knife
  • Duct tape
  • 5/16-inch spacers
  • Glue
  • Rags
  • Circular saw
  • Pry bar
  • Hammer
  • Wood block
  • Painter's tape
  • Jigsaw

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  1. 1

    Place a box level at various intervals on the floor to make sure the floor is straight. Fill in any low spots or grooves with patching compound. Sand down any ridges.

  2. 2

    Position a piece of foam underlayment and a wood plank turned bottom-side up by the door jambs. Use the combined height measurements to cut the door jambs carefully with a flush-cut/dovetail saw angled flat against the plank. These cuts will enable the flooring to slip under the jambs.

  3. 3

    Vacuum the floor. If you used patching compound, make sure it is dry. Unroll the foam underlayment in one layer across the floor. Cut to fit with a utility knife. Press seams together and seal with duct tape.

    Make sure a concrete subfloor is totally dry; there must be no moisture at all.

  4. 4

    Determine which direction the planks will go--parallel with the longest wall is usually the best. Measure the room's width, subtracting 5/16 inch on both sides for expansion. Divide the width of the room by the width of a plank to determine how many planks will be needed to go across the room.

  5. 5

    Determine if you want to remove the baseboards. If you do, carefully detach them from the wall with a pry bar and/or the claw end of a hammer. If you choose not to remove the baseboards, cover the gap between the baseboards and new flooring with quarter-round or shoe moulding.

  6. 6

    Place the first plank in a corner, grooved end against a 5/16-inch spacer at the back wall. Add more spacers along the starting wall. Dry fit planks against the wall to make sure the line is straight. Keep plank tongues facing out into the room and the cut ends against the wall.

    Put glue on top of first plank's tongue and on bottom of next plank's groove. Press together. Wipe excess glue with a damp rag. Continue with the rest of the first row.

  7. 7

    Measure the last plank in the first row from the 5/16 inch spacer to the most recently installed plank. Make sure to measure from the grooved end. Cut plank to appropriate length with circular saw. Put glue on grooved end of installed plank and, using a pry bar placed between the spacer and the last plank, ease the joint together. Gently push the two planks down to the floor and wipe away excess glue with a damp rag.

    Always use a urethane-based glue to attach the tongue and groove planks together. Do not use glue with water as an ingredient or glue intended to be trowelled onto the subfloor.

  8. 8

    Start the next rows with varying lengths at least 8 inches long to stagger joints. Continue laying planks like the first row. To tighten plank connections, place a wood block against the outside of the planks and tap them with a hammer. Every fourth or fifth row, tape plank connections with painter's tape to keep joints tight while the glue dries. Let the glue dry for at least 12 hours before removing the painter's tape and spacers and trimming the room with moulding if you did not remove the baseboards.

  9. 9

    On the board in front of the door, notch fit the plank. Measure to the closest edge of the doorstop. Use a jigsaw with a fine-toothed wood blade to cut the plank to the width measurement and to cut doorway notches. The plank should reach the doorstop and fit beneath the casing.

  10. 10

    Measure the final plank from the spacer to the last installed plank. Cut to length. Add glue to groove and tongue ends. Use a pry bar to connect the two ends and press down to the subfloor.

Tips and warnings

  • Before you begin work, leave the cartons of planks in the installation rooms for several days to acclimate the engineered wood to the room.
  • Pull from different cartons when installing the floor. This helps give the floor a visually consistent look.

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