Note: engineered wood and laminate flooring is not suitable for installation in humid locations such as shower rooms or saunas.
Floating a wood floor, or “floating installation”, is the quickest and easiest installation method for non-professionals, and can be undertaken by any DIY enthusiast.
The principle is very straightforward: assemble the flooring by glueing or clipping the strips together using their tongue and groove joints. The strips themselves are not stuck to the floor at all, hence the term “floating installation”. This is an easier and more adaptable method to use when laying over the top of an existing floor-covering (plastic floorings, carpets, tiles, stone…).
Your floor installation will be unsuccessful unless certain essential prerequisites are satisfied: storage conditions, site humidity, subfloor humidity, flatness and expansion space. For more information: Laying wood flooring: understanding the essential prerequisites for a successful installation.
Preparing the subfloor:
Before proceeding with the installation, ensure you have the following items available: metre rule, pencil, saw, hammer (500g minimum), planer, pull bar, spacers, tension strap, set square, line reel with blue chalk, polyethylene film (only required for laminate flooring). Expect to use one tube of glue per m2 when assembling the flooring strips. The types of flooring described as “clipable” offer glue-free tongue and groove joint assembly.
However, an insulating underlay, such as a mould-free, cut-pile carpet in good condition, is necessary for a completely satisfactory installation.
Trace two perpendicular lines across the room in order to begin laying from the centre. Place a metre rule along one of the lines and paste glue over a 1m2 area (use a line reel with blue chalk).
Laying laminate flooring:
1. FIRST STEPS: Check that the flooring strips have not been damaged in transit. After carefully cleaning the floor surface, begin unrolling the polythene film (the lengths must overlap by at least 20 cm) and the underlay.
2. THE FIRST ROW: Begin in the left-hand corner, placing the strips with the tongue edge towards the wall. Make sure you leave about 8 to 10 mm between the strip’s narrow end and the wall. The long edge can be aligned once three rows have been installed (still leaving a gap of 8 to 10 mm). If the wall is not straight, the strips will need to be altered to match the wall. Lift and remove the first row, saw the flooring strips to the desired shape, then replace them, sliding them under the other previously installed strips.
4. Position the final strip with its decorative side facing down and its narrow end – the end without the tongue – placed against the wall. The distance between the strip and the wall must be at least 8 to 10 mm. Draw a line at the point where the strip will need to be sawn.
5. SAWING THE STRIPS: Place the strip on the work surface, decorative side down, and saw to the required length using a jigsaw. If using a hand saw, it must be fitted with a fine-tooth blade. Saw the strips with the decorative side facing up if this is the case.
6. BEGINNING THE SECOND ROW: Use the sawn-off piece from the previous strip. It will need to be a least 30 cm long. If not, use a new strip and saw into two pieces. Ensure that the distance between any two end joints is never less than 30 cm.
8. Take a new strip (A) and fit it to the last row, long side first. Take care to ensure that the narrow end of strip A slides onto the narrow end of strip B correctly. Apply pressure and allow to drop into place.
10. INSTALLING AROUND PIPEWORK: measure the diameter of the pipe and drill a hole in the strip to a diameter 10 mm greater than that of the pipe. Cut as illustrated, and place the flooring strip in position. Next put the detached piece in place.
12. To remove “click system” type flooring strips: disconnect the last row installed by raising it and pulling its long edge away from the preceding row. Place the strips on the floor and slide them apart at their narrow ends. The first strip must be completely straight and tight against spacers at the wall.
Finishing off the installation:
Hide the expansion gaps at the peripheries by installing skirting or beading matching your flooring.
Fill in the places where the flooring has been cut to fit around door frames and pipes.
When laying different varieties of flooring in adjacent rooms, use room thresholds as boundaries, or use junctions between different floor sections where present.
When using the same variety of flooring in adjacent rooms, a decorative effect can be achieved by laying a flooring strip in the opposing direction to the rest of the floor at the threshold between the rooms. It is entirely possible to lay the same flooring across several rooms as a single area, leaving thresholds unmarked, on condition that the flooring is properly parallel to the walls in each room. Where this is not the case, it is better to mark room thresholds to avoid creating an undesirable effect.
Finishing the floor
Factory finished, ready to lay flooring: no specific treatment required unless otherwise indicated by the manufacturer. As a rule, flooring protected with natural oil requires one final and additional protective coat after laying.
Untreated wood flooring: oiled, varnished, stained. There is a wide range of finishes available designed to protect and enhance the appearance of this type of floor. Before applying the protective finish, it is essential to very carefully sand the floor. This will need to be done at least twice, if not three times in some cases.
Important: it is advisable to apply any final finishes to the floor BEFORE fitting skirting boards or beading along the edges (after allowing time for it to completely dry, about 48 h).
Time taken for the flooring to settle after laying: 8 days minimum.
Laminate flooring: no finish required.
This installation advice is based on French building code DTU 51.11. It is provided for information purposes only and does not entail the liability of Décoplus in any way. The advice given here will, nonetheless, enable you to efficiently carry out the installation of your new flooring yourself. However, if problems are encountered, it is advisable to engage the services of a professional rather than risk irreversibly modifying your newly purchased flooring.