Installing a floating floor is an easy home project even for those who believe they have few if any home project skills. The basic tools required are a measuring tape, pencil, chalk line, chop saw or miter box with hand saw, dead blow hammer, carpenter's wood glue, utility knife, 1/4 inch spacers, and jamb saw.
After deciding on the type of floor you are going to float engineered or laminate, I prefer the engineered wood floor. It is real wood on top of several plywood layers that provide strength and resistance to warping and cupping. Additionally the engineered floors are factory pre-finished with a very durable baked finished and come in many wood species and varieties of finishes and styles. Finally, in the event they become marred they can be sanded and refinished. The first step is to measure the square footage needed for the area of the room and add at least another 10% to account for waste during installation. Once the flooring is delivered to your house allow it to acclimate to the house environment for at least 72 hours for increased stability prior to installation.
The next step is to assess the subfloor of the room in which the new flooring is going to be installed. After removing all of the old flooring or carpeting and its padding, be sure to remove all remaining nails, tacks or staples. Any that are left may show through in the new flooring. Examine the subfloor for level, squeaks and general condition of the wood. My advice is that if your are not sure that the subfloor is in very good condition then take the extra step of laying a 1/4 inch additional layer of plywood on top of the old subfloor being sure that it is level and that the seams are staggered and do not end on any of the seams of the old sublfoor. This is necessary for strength and stability. I recommend using an adhesive as well as screws for an additional level of certainty as well as to avoid squeaks in the future. Once this is done you are ready to install the flooring.
Most of these floors require an underlayment that provides a protective barrier from moisture, sound reduction, and also lessens the possibility of squeaking. This usually comes in rolls. Simply roll out a length from one end of your room to the other. Lay out a second piece and overlap the first piece by 3-4 inches. Continue this process until the entire room is covered. Each area of overlap is taped together to make a single uniform piece of underlayment.
When deciding which wall to begin laying the floor down, most people select the longest wall because they believe this enhances the look of the floor. However it is really your choice. One can start on a smaller wall. The next thing to do is to make a chalk line that is straight and level. You cannot assume that your wall is true. The chalk line is your reference line for laying the first course of flooring. It should be slightly more than the width of a floor board but no more than 1/4 of an inch wider. I'll explain the reason for this later. Be sure to double check that your chalk line is straight because if it is not then every course of boards placed afterwards will not be straight.
It is extremely important when laying the floorboards that no two seams in adjacent rows end up touching each other. This can easily be avoided by doing the following. Measure the length of the wall your are starting with. Figure out how many full boards can be placed in that row. As an example lets say your room wall is 14 feet and your boards are 4 feet. Then you can have 3 complete boards with a 2 foot piece of board to make up the 14 feet.
From an entire board, measure a two foot piece from the right side (this is to retain the tongue and groove locking mechanism), before cutting the board subtract another 1/2 inch and then make your cut. Place a spacer and abut the cut board flush to the spacer add glue to its groove and place the next board being sure that it interlocks securely, repeat with each succeeding board until the entire row is complete by placing another spacer between the last board and the wall. Note that you may have to use the dead blow hammer and a spare piece of flooring or a tapping block if one is provided to insure that the boards are perfectly interlocked. By adding one foot to the length of the first cut board start the second row using as many full boards as possible. Start the third row by adding another foot to the length of the first board. Then repeat the pattern starting with a two foot piece less the 1/2 inch. This insures that no seams will ever overlap a joint in any two adjoining rows. Important as a matter of precaution after your first three courses are placed take time to inspect that all rows are square, if they are not now is the time to make corrections and not later when much more of the floor has been laid. Complete the process. That extra 10% will come in handy as row starters or finishers. The 1/4 inch gap that is left along each wall is covered by a shoe moulding of 1/4 round style. The gap is necessary to allow for expansion of the floor. The shoe moulding can be bought in widths of 1/4,1/2 or 3/4 inch so that the gap between your wall and the edge of the flooring will be covered. Finally in laying the floor one most certainly will encounter doorways. The jamb saw is a special tool that is not expensive that allows you to cut out the bottom of a jamb so that a piece of the flooring will slide easily underneath it avoiding the need to make a very difficult intricate cut. Simply place a piece of scrap flooring near the jamb and lay the saw on top of it. Cut through the jamb, Your piece of flooring should easily slide under the cut jamb.
Install a transition piece to link the new floor to an adjacent room or hallway.
Your engineered flooring installation is now complete and you have the satisfaction of knowing that you did it yourself.