How To Install Floating Floorboards

  • How To Install Floating Floorboards

An easy way to transform your home and add warmth without doing a major reno is to put down a floating floor. 

The boards come in a range of colours and materials such as natural timber glued to plywood and laminated melamine.

Bamboo boards are a popular choice, as they’re eco-friendly, durable and harder than oak. 

The old worn cypress floor of this 28sqm lounge and dining area was replaced with Tarkett 10mm Woven Bamboo Flooring in Coffee, $68 for a 1.41sqm box from Tarkett. 

DESIGN TIP Lay boards lengthways using the longest wall, as laying them crossways can make a room appear narrower.

Tips to keep in mind 

  • Before laying the floor, check the clearance under the doors. Use a block and a pencil to scribe at least an 8mm clearance, then remove and trim the door. 
  • Floating floors expand and contract after installation, so leave a 12-15mm gap around the perimeter of the room at all walls and fixed vertical obstructions.
  • The boards respond to temperature and moisture changes, so leave them in the room where they’ll be laid for at least 48 hours before installing them.
  • These pre-finished boards simply click together to cover almost any existing floor and provide good insulation when combined with an underlay.

Join the boards 

Floating floorboards click into each other, eliminating the need for fasteners. 

Lay the first row square to a side wall, then in a staggered pattern with overlaps of at least 250mm, checking every 5-6 rows that the boards are still square. 

Position each board to be laid at an angle of 20-30° to the boards that are already installed.  Insert the tongue into the groove then move the board gently up and down while pushing forward and it will click into place.  To tighten the joint, gently tap the board along the side and ends. 

Minimise gaps at the end joints by positioning end-to-end boards as close together as possible.

join the boards, handyman magazine,
Blend different shades of the bamboo boards together for a natural finish


Cover the gap 

REMOVE all the skirting boards and replace them using 50mm brads when the floorboards have been laid, but never secure the skirting to the floor itself. 

USE toe beading to cover the expansion gap around the walls and give the floor a neat, even look.

install floating floors,
Use a hammer and block to tap gently along the board

pull bar on floating floor, handyman magazine,
Use a pull bar to tap the board ends and last row tightly in place

toe beading, handyman magazine,
Use toe beading to cover the expansion gap around the walls and give the floor a neat, even look

How to install floating floorboards 

Step 1. Trim architrave

Remove the old skirting boards with a chisel levered off a block, taking out any protruding nails. As a height guide, place flooring and an underlay offcut against the architrave and trim off the base using a multi-tool saw.

Step 2. Tape underlay

Roll out the underlay foil side down with the tape edge by the wall, peel off the cover strip and secure to the floor. Secure the other edge with duct tape and trim with a utility knife. Overlap the join with the next strip.

Step 3. Scribe first row

For a neat fit along the wall, use a pencil and a small timber block to scribe a line on the first row of boards, allowing for the expansion gap. Check the corners for square, then use a small circular saw to cut along the line.

Step 4. Add spacer blocks

Position 12-15mm spacer blocks behind the starter boards and at the ends to create an expansion gap. Make sure the first row is square by using the 3-4-5 method. Click the second row in to help keep the boards in position.

Step 5. Lay boards

Place the boards in a random pattern with the joints at least 250mm apart. Angle the boards at 25° and push until they click into place, then tap together. Cut the end boards square to the walls and secure with a pull bar.

Step 6. Cut door jamb

Click the door board into place, then use a pull bar to tap it on the end to slide it under the cut architrave. Position the next board and mark the cut out for the jamb, leaving 12mm for expansion. Cut to shape with a jigsaw.

Step 7. Install last row

Measure the gap for the last board row, allowing for the expansion joint. Clamp the board across a pair of saw stools and rip to width using a jigsaw or circular saw. Click in position and tap together both ways with a pull bar

Step 8. Fit skirting boards

Remove the spacer blocks at the starter boards, then secure the skirting, starting at the door architraves. Create scribe joints at internal corners and mitre joints on external corners. Secure the skirting with 50mm brads.

Step 9. Fix transition strips

Rip a 25mm wide strip from a board. Plane the top edge at an angle to create an easing transition at the doorway. Apply a protective coat and use clear silicone to hold in place. Seal the bottom of the doors and rehang.

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