7 Advantages and Disadvantages of Floating Floors

advantages and disadvantages of floating floors

Many homeowners and DIYers opt for floating floors due to how easy it is to install. Floating floors are not held down with nails, instead, they are attached and snapped together like a puzzle. This type of flooring is more or less “floating” over the subfloor without being firmly attached to it.

Different types of flooring like plywood, concrete, sheet vinyl, or even ceramic tiles can be installed using this method.

Many homeowners opt for this flooring type because they are DIY-friendly and affordable but if you consider their need for constant replacement and their high susceptibility to humidity, you would need to give your choice a second thought.

This article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of floating floors, so you can determine if it is the right flooring choice for your home.

Advantages of Floating Floors 

1. They Are Affordable to Install

Installing floating floors is generally less expensive to install compared to their nail- or glue-down counterparts, this makes it a common installation method used by DIYer remodelers on a budget.

The reason for the low cost of installation is generally due to the less expertise required to install them, short installation time, less needed installation materials like adhesive or nail, and the fact that floating floors can be installed over existing surfaces.

Also, the floating variety of most flooring offered in glue or nail-down versions tend to be more affordable to purchase.

2. They are DIY-Friendly

Installing a floating floor is a project you can undertake with your buddy on a Saturday morning. You simply do not need to hire a professional to help with the installation, this also cuts down on the cost of the floor.

However, although installing a floating floor is said to be quite easy, unless you’re a seasoned DIY-er, with prior knowledge of floor installation you may want to leave the job for professionals.

This is to avoid causing yourself immense stress when you try to install the floor with little or no expertise, you may even end up damaging the flooring material. That being said, this flooring option offers much more potential for DIY installation. 

3. They are Easier to Replace

Because floating floors aren’t attached to the subfloor in any way, repairing or replacing them is much easier. In cases of deep scratches or dents or severe water damage on any of the floating floorboards you can simply pull out the affected boards and make replacement

Although you will have to take out all the boards between the damaged piece and the wall, uninstalling floating flooring is also easier to do than trying to pull up a single nailed or glued-down plank.

If you also decide to uninstall and replace your floor entirely, floating floors are much easier as well because they do not use any adhesives or nails that will need to be removed alongside.

Related: Do you put floating floors under appliances?

Disadvantages of Floating Floors

Enough of the good stuff, floating floors also have certain disadvantages that you need to put into consideration before walking out of your local flooring store with a new floating floor.

1. Floating Floors Require Constant Replacement

Floating flooring consists of layers, this includes the subfloor, a tiny layer of air, and the floating floor. This flooring type has a slim layer of space, which causes your home’s daily activities to have a higher impact on the floor. This may be a disadvantage of floating floors but it can also be fixed relatively easily.

If you have floating flooring in a home office, the movement of a heavy chair on wheels may quicken the appearance of scratches and signs of wear compared to a glued-down or nailed-down floor.

This however depends on the flooring product and the type of underlayment used. Most cork products are only available in floating setups and withstand wear better due to their springy nature.

People with knee, ankle and back problems also find it easier to walk on floating floors due to the feeling of literally walking on air.

You may want to seek other durable flooring options if your home experiences a lot of traffic from kids, visitors, and pets.

2. Floating Floors Tend to be Squeaky

The gaps present between your floating floors and the subfloors can cause the floor to produce noises when walked upon.

This is unlike glued or nailed-down floors that are in close contact with the subfloor layers that cushion and reduce the sound from footfalls. Floating floors tend to produce troublesome noises when your step applies pressure to the air cushion underneath the flooring which amplifies your movement.

If you need your steps to be quiet or you are choosing a flooring type for areas like a baby nursery or any space that needs serenity, then you may want to dish your floating floors for other traditional flooring options like carpeting.

You can also invest in a high-quality underlayment that is placed underneath the flooring. Using the right underlayment will help to almost entirely mitigate sounds caused by footfall on the floor.

Instead of carpeting, you can also use removable peel-and-stick carpet tiles if you want a hush-hush environment.

Related: How to fix squeaky hardwood floor

3. They can be Refinished Only a Few Times

Being able to refinish your flooring multiple times is dependent on the type of flooring you opt for rather than the methods of installation.

Most floating hardwood floors are usually made of engineered wood, rather than solid wood and they are usually composed of two layers—a thick base layer made of plywood or HDF, and a final layer of thin “veneer” usually made of natural hardwood.

The top veneer layer has a thin width so it cannot be refinished nearly as many times as solid hardwood and most times, they cannot be refinished at all. This isn’t much of a worry as they are different super-durable factory finishes, which eliminates the need for refinishing. 

It is possible to find solid hardwood floors as click-together floating floors but it’s definitely less common. The common styles of floating floors are laminate and vinyl which can’t be refinished at all, so by default, most homeowners tend not to refinish a floating floor.

Read: How to refinish engineered wood flooring

4. Susceptible to High Humidity Level

Your floating floor expands and contracts according to the humidity level of the space. This makes floating floors particularly suited for areas with fluctuations in humidity levels.

This factor however creates a host of problems for floating floors. Installing floating floors in areas with extremely high humidity levels can cause the accumulation of moisture in the space between the floor and subfloor.

When a lot of moisture accumulates underneath your flooring, it causes warping, pitting, or mold growth. These problems can be kept in check with the use of an appropriate underlayment, but ensure to consult your local flooring dealer before installing floating floors in areas with high humidity.


Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of floating floors will help you to rightly determine if they suit your space best or not.

These types of flooring are very easy to install as well as easy to replace, a little prior knowledge of floor installation and you are ready to pop the boards in place saving you the cost of hiring a professional.

But if you consider how they tend to produce squeaky noise due to trapped air bubbles or being unable to refinish the floor if you would want to change the flooring outlook and a host of other different disadvantages of floating floors may cause you to give your choice a thoughtful process.

In all, floating floors just like any other type of flooring installation have their pros and cons and the suitable method for you depends on your situation and household.

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