How to stagger floating floors

Updated April 17, 2017

A floating floor, contrary to the sound of the name, is not a floor that can float or hover. The term refers to the method of installation, which does not require the installer to nail or glue the actual floor to the foundation or subfloor. In order to prevent seams in the flooring from separating, and to allow them to absorb the shock of being walked on, the panels of a floating floor are laid out in a staggered pattern. Following a simple pattern can allow you to easily achieve this type of installation.

Start the first row of flooring using a full-length floor panel. All consecutive rows will start from the same side as this floor panel.

Cut 1/3 off of one full panel so it is 2/3 its original length. For example, if your panels are 90 cm (3 feet) long, cut 30 cm (1 foot) from the panel to make it 60 cm (2 feet) in length. Save the remaining piece for later.

Lay out the second row of flooring, starting with the 2/3-length piece of flooring. Continue to lay the panels in the second row the same way you did the first and you will see the seams do not line up.

Arrange the third row of flooring using the 1/3 length piece of panel. Lay out the rest of the panels for a third staggered row.

Cover the entire floor using groups of three to stagger the panels. The first row should always start with a full panel, the second with a 2/3-length panel and the third with a 1/3-length panel.


You can intersperse a row every so often during staggering to make imperfections in the wood less noticeable. Do not use panels if they are less than 20 cm (8 inches) long. Instead start with a new piece cut to the closest-looking size that matches the stagger.

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About the Author

Based in New York, Tim Burgone has been writing technology-related content since 1991. His work has appeared in “Wired” magazine and “Mac Addict” magazine. Burgone received the Frank L. Kern Literary Award in 2002. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from St. John’s University in New York.