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laying a floating floor


In my DIY career, I have installed solid hardwood floors over concrete, solid hardwood over plywood (and about 5 layers of linoleum) and refinished old hardwood floors.  This weekend, we added installing an engineered hardwood floating floor to the list.   I am not a professional when it comes to laying floors, so this isn’t a full-blown tutorial, but more of a post about my experience, so you can decide if you want to tackle this kind of project in your own home.

The first thing you should know about installing a floating floor is that the easiest part of that project is installing the floating floor.  It’s everything that comes before that’s tedious and hard…



…starting with moving all of your furniture and ripping out the carpet.  (Oh, that carpet was baaaaad.)  So, the best way to remove carpet is to cut it with a very sharp utility blade into 3-4′ strips that are easy to roll and carry.  Don’t try to roll up the entire thing and move it in one piece.



Just as a side note: If you purchase solid hardwood floors, make sure you give them time to acclimate to your home.  Wood reacts to temperature, humidity and dryness, so it’s very important to include that step or you can end up with gaps and/or buckles in your brand new floors.  I know it’s torture to have boxes of brand new flooring sitting around in your house for a couple of weeks, but it’s worth it.  There seems to be a variety of opinions about the necessity of acclimating engineered hardwood floors as long as solid hardwood floors, so PLEASE do your research and make sure before you install your specific flooring.


I couldn’t resist sharing this photo.  As soon as we moved the furniture our boys went bonkers.  They were doing gymnastics and wrestling and jumping off the furniture.  They were loving it.  They did have to get boots on and stop the rough-housing, though, as soon as the padding came off.



They did help some, too.  (I know…sleeveless in the snow.  He picked his outfit.)

Another thing you have to think of is disposing all of that carpet.  Call your garbage service to see if they will take it from the curb.  If so, they may have size or quantity restrictions.  If not, you will need to make other arrangements to drive it to a dump, rent a dumpster, etc.

You should also be prepared to learn how disgusting your house is.  You might think your house is clean, but you realize you are sorely mistake when you find a spoon, a fuzzy train track, a plastic potato chip, DVD booklet and a bunch of Legos, Cherrios, Gold Fish and fluff tucked under your baseboard heaters.



Then comes the most tedious step…removing the staples and tack strips.  Fortunately, I have become a champ at removing staples from all of the furniture I’ve stripped.  Removing a few hundred staples from a flat floor is a cake walk compared to coaxing millions of tacks and staples out of a curvy French sofa.  I actually used the staple remover I use for furniture and it did a great job.  THIS is the one I have.  For tack strips, a crowbar and hammer works perfectly.  Insert the crowbar under the tack strip and knock it under with the hammer, then pry it up.  Make sure to wear eye protection when removing staples and tack strips and use gloves when disposing of them.  Those tack strips are sharp!

 We also removed the baseboards at that time.  You can install floors up against baseboard, but we wanted to replace them anyway, so we removed them (with the crowbar as well.)  It is important to make sure the floors are entirely flat, clean and free of debris before you start installing the underlayment/moisture barrier.  Even one staple or a bump of old caulk or something can make it so the floor won’t lay flat.

Now, this is where I warn you that you never know what you’re getting into when you rip up carpeting.  You might have a rotted sub floor or moisture/water issues or an area that is uneven.  It could be a total mess.  Your two day project of laying new floors could turn into a major renovation that includes not-fun and expensive things like mold abatement.  You just have to be flexible and know what you can fix and when you need to call in the professionals.  We had a few minor surprises.  A bit of water had been seeping in through both doors in the room, so we needed to caulk some areas and now we have to replace the weather stripping and sweeps on the doors to make sure everything is water tight. It was a minor issue, though and it’s a blessing we caught it before the sub floor was damaged.

The second thing we came across was some backer board from the kitchen linoleum that hung over into the area where we were putting the new floor.  We chiseled it out, to make the floor even.

Figuring out how to work with the underlayment seemed to take forever.  I tend to plow ahead with projects, sometimes to a fault.  My husband takes his time and makes sure everything is perfect.  I was ready to just roll it out and get the floor down.  He was painstakingly smoothing the entire sheet out to eliminate all of the crinkles.



The directions said to butt the pieces of underlayment together and then stick the plastic overhang to the adhesive strip.  The problem was, we would do that and then the underlayment would shift slightly and would be overlapping.  It was only by 1/8″ or so, but that kind of bump isn’t good.  We learned it’s best to leave about 1/8 inch gap between each piece of underlayment.  Anywhere two pieces meet where there isn’t an adhesive strip, duct tape should be used to seal the seam.  I know that they made these sticky strips for convenience, but honestly, duct tape is better and easier.

On about the third strip, we learned that somewhere in the middle of our two approaches was best.  It was okay if there were a few crinkles in the plastic, but we couldn’t have any overlaps or buckles in the padding that would push up the flooring.

The underlayment tends to roll up on the ends, so we used some wide-head nails to hold it down in a few spots and then covered them with duct tape to keep it waterproof.



I’ll talk about installing the floor tomorrow.  As I said, that was the easiest part!  I’ll also share the brand and name of the floor we purchased and talk about why we went with the one we did.



My Joss & Main event, French Blue, Farmhouse White is live now through January 12, 2013.  I hope you enjoy it!

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  1. Your new floor looks great! You never cease to amaze me with what you can do.

    Love your Joss and Main sale… so many wonderful items!

    I am looking forward to seeing you this weekend!

    • Beverly Dyer says:

      We are about to install flooring in an area we just made into living space, however we are istalling a high end laminate from Lowes Allen Roth. Thank you for your tips, look forward to reading about the actual application or instalation of your wood floor.

  2. Wow! I love it! Great job! We’ve done this in several rooms of our house. I think it’s a deal of a project.

  3. Bless you for taking on this project, but the results will be so work it!

  4. Loved seeing your boys in the post!

  5. Looks Great! You are quite talented!!! Makes me think I could possibly handled a bedroom upstairs. Thank you for sharing! Wanda

  6. Thanks Marian, I love your tutorials. I’ve thought about laying our own floors…I just don’t know…I will probably have to hire it out but I know one thing…I can’t wait to get them!

  7. This is going to be beautiful. And it’s very interesting what must happen before you put the flooring down.

    But as the grandmother of (only) little boys, I had to laugh at the picture of your boys flinging themselves off the furniture. Wonder what makes them do things like that? The minute something is out of place or different, their energy level goes into overdrive. Simply amazing. But universal. And I loved your disclaimer that your child dressed himself. I get that too.

  8. Janie says:

    Wow – what a job! Have you ever stripped carpet off a staircase? I want to take the old berber off my stairs and put down wood treads for cleaner look. The boys were a hoot…

  9. Goedele says:

    Good that you and your husband have complementary characters. I’m more the perfectionist type, and my husband tends to plow ahead with projects. He gets more stuff done without fear of failure.

  10. Brenda says:

    Well,I just had a ” Duh!” moment! Picture a short woman wrestling a large roll of carpet through a doorway! Thats what utility knives are for, cutting things. But seriously, thanks for the reminder to look for problems with the subfloor. The tutorial helps alot! Your boys are cute! My grandsons would have been swinging from the chandeliers or the ceiling fans yelling “AARGH!”! They like pirate movies.

  11. Laurel says:

    Thanks for your post on this project. My husband and I are about to tackle laying down new floors in the kitchen and dining room. The previous owner laid cheap laminate hard wood over the tile in the kitchen and it has buckled. so we have to remove the flooring and chip off the tile. That does not sound fun to me. Thanks for the info. Can’t wait for you next post.

  12. Shelly W says:

    One other tip you may want to note…once the carpet padding is out and the staples are removed, it is a great opportunity to do some soundproofing and squeak fixing. Alot of times if there is a squeak in the floor, it is because the subfloor isn’t secured to the floor joist well. You can easily fix alot of squeaks by using your cordless drill and some drywall screws to screw down the subfloor to the joists and the two layers of subfloor together…as most homes have two layers of plywood as a subfloor. When installing tile flooring, particularly large tile, it is very important to screw everything together really tight so that there isn’t as much movement in the floor. Movement + tile = cracks. These are just a couple of tips that I’ve learned while working in construction…just thought I’d share.

  13. God must have sent you a personal message.. Help those who are considering doing this! I love you are not a professional.. cause they don’t always give you the practical or real side of do it yourself! Or how to really pull up staples.. I have a puller tool too!
    I have been looking into laying either a laminate or a wood floor in my kitchen. I have the ugliest orange 1975 kitchen floor that came with the house, for last 20 years. Good quality though..wears like iron, believe me, I tried to ruin it! When I had family to help, one a tile setter, tile might have been an option, but now.. I am not going to do that alone! I have some hardwood floors, beautiful dark oak, everything in the house is dark oak, but the wood floors are the bedrooms only! When I have the money.. and decide if I will paint the cabinet, this will sure help me! Do the painting before the floors! Thank you MMS!

  14. looks so nice!

  15. Thanks so much for the great tutorial! I’m about to tackle an upstairs hallway when my husband leaves town. Was going to do solid hardwood but may do engineered after seeing your wonderful instructions. The floor looks gorgeous!

  16. Wende says:

    i’ve never really cared for that type of flooring..with all the boards being the same length..but i really like your choice here..the dark is what i’m drawn to as well..and it looks FANTASTIC…nice job you diy’ers did…

  17. Kat Moss says:

    Great info! We had a floating engineered bamboo installed just over a year ago and although we loved the look of it, it hasn’t held up worth a darned. In hindsight, we should have bought higher end vs middle-of-the-road, and NOT made our purchase at Lumber Liquidators. Had a terrible experience with them not standing behind their very low quality product. Definitely an expensive lesson learned by us (about $10k w/labor costs – we did about 1300 sq ft).

  18. Wendy says:

    I’m sure you will be pleased when it is finished…. LOVED the pics of the boys jumping off the chesterfield .. and your note as to who dressed him :-) sooo funny.

  19. Thanks for sharing this! My carpeted floors are getting the evil, i’m gonna rip you out, eye… as we speak! It just all sounds really hard right now… but this totally helps with perspective about redoing floors. I’ll be eagerly watching for the next post about it all.
    I joined Joss and Main, and it’s a cool site! I love your choices of products. Those sofas are all so wonderful too!


  20. What a job! Are you installing this in most of your home or just the entry/family room?They look amazing already!


    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      Just in the family room and master bedroom, which are actually at the back of the house. The other rooms already have hardwood flooring (or tile in the kitchen)

  21. Kelly says:

    We are in the process of doing the same thing. We also pulled up the linoleum in the kitchen and the staples are way worse under that. I put our old carpet on the free section of Craigslist and had dozens of emails about it in just a couple hours. They came and hauled it off and it didn’t end up in a landfill.

  22. Denise T says:

    I am in the process of ripping out carpet very soon . Not sure what I want to replace with , yet. Thank you for all the tips. Have to think about carpet disposal, etc…. The flooring at your house is amazing.

  23. Susan says:

    Brings back (bad) memories of laying the floor in my daughter’s room-by myself! Never again !

  24. What a great tip about leaving the flooring to acclimate to your home…you must be so thrilled with your beautiful new floors!….and I love the pic of the boys doing what boys do…have fun!

  25. Melinda Murak says:

    Absolutely love all the the things you do! Is there a place to buy the furniture you refinish?

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      I will be selling pieces at the May antiques fair in Lucketts, VA, but I am also going to start selling some pieces online to ship around the US.

  26. Stephanie Hobson says:

    Sooo glad you found those missing Legos! hee hee

  27. I am eagerly waiting to find out what you used! We are in the process of pricing laminate now.

  28. Did you do this – installed solid hardwood floors over concrete – before you blogged? We want to but are unsure how to. Is it much different than using the engineered? Thanks,

  29. PLEASE Post Part 2. We’re about to lay our floor in the kitchen and I’d love to hear more.

  30. Sonja Dobek says:

    Love the tutorial! We are contemplating installing new hardwood floors, too. But, since we want to do the whole house, we are torn on which product to use. We’d like traditional hardwood upstairs and we were undecided on the downstairs (we’d like it all to match). Did you really install traditional hardwood floors on concrete? HOW? Did it turn out well and would you recommend doing it? Please do tell!

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      I did! This was in my pre-blog days when we lived in a little town house. We put down a moisture barrier, then installed a layer of plywood subflooring. We had to rent a special nailer that would drive the nails through the plywood into concrete. From there, we glued down the hardwood to the subfloor. The only think to think about is how much the floor is raised. Ours ended up increases by 1 1/4″, which caused some trouble with the dishwasher.

  31. Your family room floor looks great! We’re are in the process of doing the same with our bedrooms. I’ve been waiting ten long years for this to happen. Two rooms have been done and I’m sooooooo happy!

  32. I’m sitting here laughing at your post (not really THE post) but I had decided that I was going to do this in out bathroom when my husband went out of town for the weekend…I ripped up the old linoleum, then the next layer of linoleum (to make sure that there wasn’t water damage. I found the floor was rotted and my husband would be home the next day. Oh, did I mention that it was going to be a surprise! Needless to say….he didn’t like the bathroom makeover :( My 2 day project DID turn out to be a disaster. I’m not brave enough to replace the subfloor because it is our only bathroom for 5, and I don’t need that 1 day project turning into 2 weeks. Oh, and I also forgot to tell you….this was over thankgiving weekend. I need a husband like yours!

    Yours looks great!

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  1. […] We kicked off the new year by installing new engineered hardwood floors in our family room and master bedroom. […]

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