Overview

Diagram: floating floor
Photo: Kolin Smith
«»
Engineered flooring goes down over a thin foam sheet, which provides cushioning and sound-dampening. The planks glue together to create a floor that "floats" — moves freely — as a unit. You need to leave a 5/16-inch gap between the flooring and the baseboard or wall around the perimeter of the room to allow the floor enough space to expand. In most cases, you can install the flooring without removing existing baseboard, concealing the expansion gap with shoe molding (or quarter-round, which is wider). Or, you can remove the baseboard, lay the flooring, and then reinstall the baseboard on top. Regardless of which method you use, nail the molding to the wall, not the flooring, so the floor can move.

Once the prep work is done (Step 1), decide which direction to lay the flooring. Running the planks parallel with the longest wall usually looks best. Then measure the width of the room (subtract 5/8 inch to account for the expansion gap on both sides) and divide by the width of the flooring you've chosen to calculate how many courses of planks will be needed. Chances are you'll need to rip, or trim lengthwise, the last course to fit. If your calculation results in a final course that's at least 1 ½ inches wide, then the first course should be a full-width plank. But if the last course is narrower, rip the first course down to ensure the last course will have a pleasing width.

Contribute to This Story Below

    More in Flooring

    Tools List

    • power flush cut saw
      Flush-cut dovetail saw,
      to trim door casings
    • miter saw
      Miter saw,
      for cutting flooring and molding to length
    • jigsaw
      Jigsaw or circular saw,
      to rip flooring to width
    • hammer
      Hammer and nail set,
      for tapping planks together and installing molding
    • flat prybar
      Flat bar,
      to pry last plank into place
    • coping saw
      Coping saw,
      for coping molding's inside corners

    Shopping List

    1. ENGINEERED WOOD FLOORING

    sold in bundles of 11 to 30 square feet. Calculate the square footage of the room, then add 10 percent to account for off-cuts



    2. FOAM UNDERLAYMENT

    sold in 3- or 4-foot-wide rolls



    3. DUCT TAPE

    to seal foam underlayment seams



    4. 5/16-INCH SPACERS

    to create expansion gaps between flooring and walls



    5. GLUE

    use only the type recommended by the flooring manufacturer



    6. PAINTER'S TAPE

    7. TRANSITION MOLDING

    8. QUARTER-ROUND SHOE MOLDING

    9. 1 1/2-INCH (4D) FINISH NAILS

    for attaching shoe molding