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Installing floorboards in small areas: to float or not to float?

We received a question this week if it was possible to install wooden floorboards in a small hallway using the floating method.

A 'floating' floor means the floorboards (solid, wood-engineered, veneer or melamine laminated floorboards with T&G's all around or click-system) are placed on top of the correct underlayment, and not secretly nailed on subfloor or on joists or fully glued down on level and sound underfloor. It's the most simple way with the least hassle and preferred by many DIY-ers and professional floor fitters.

The reason for the question was the worry if the weight of the floor in a small area would hold the floor down sufficiently even if installed underneath skirtingboards.

That worry is really uncalled for: the floor has no place to go if

  • installed properly on level underfloor
  • sufficient amount of expansion gap is kept all around the perimeter of the floor
  • door posts are cut under so the floor slides underneath (for neat finish and extra 'holding down power')
  • even if flat beading or scotia/quadrants are used to cover the expansion gaps instead of skirtingboards the (light) weight of the wooden floor, the furniture, the 'holding down power' underneath door posts, installed thresholds etc will hold the floor down and allow for the seasonal natural movement of the boards.

We've installed many floors in small areas (hallways, landings etc) using the 'floating method' without any problems.

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