DIY Basics on How to Lay a Floating Floor – Cork, Bamboo and Hardwood

Basic Steps:
1. Cover the subfloor with a floating floor pad if required (most floating cork floors do not require underlayment, while most wood do) If you would like your cork floor to have more give and a gym floor field then utilize the pad; utilize tape on the seams and staple the pad in a few areas with a hammer tacker to hold in place.
2. Set first plank in place with the tongue edge facing the wall or baseboard molding.
3. Tap together the planks in the first row, end to end. Be sure to use a tapping block to prevent damaging the flooring(pressing down firmly prevents damaged or rippled edges) .
4. Install the planks in the second row, making sure you stagger the end joints from the previous row ( typically cutting a plank in half is your most efficient stagger)
5. Hold the planks at a slight angle and tap them into the first-row planks with a dead-blow hammer or tapping block.
6. Insert spacer blocks between the flooring and wall or baseboard to create an expansion space (often you can use a couple cuts of material as spacers against the wall as 7/16″ is typically the desired spacing.  See your specific product instructions for exact spacing. The idea is to allow for expansion and contraction while still having the perimeter covered by the thickness of your baseboard)
7. Use a jamb saw to trim door casing so the flooring will slip underneath, this is a key that makes a project look professional.
8. Set plank in front of doorway and use scribing tool to transfer cut lines from the doorway to the plank.
9. Cut the plank to size with a jigsaw.
10. Tap the plank into the doorway, making sure it slips under the casings.
11. Continue installing planks across the room. When necessary, use a pull bar to tap the joints tight between the planks.
12. Once all the flooring is installed, remove the spacer blocks and nail shoe molding or baseboard around the room perimeter. If doing shoe molding be sure to nail the shoe to the baseboard, not the floor.


More detailed General Guidelines: 
The term “Floating floors” means that the floor is not secured to the subfloor but rather it “floats” on top of the subfloor. There needs to be a roughly 7/16″ space from walls and other fixed objects. Floor areas greater than 900 sf with dimensions greater than 30 feet in either direction will need an expansion gap, this means utilizing a t-molding between the areas. Transitions between 2 rooms using the floating floors will need an expansion gap also. If you are installing in a possibly damp area, you’ll need to put down a moisture vapor barrier first.

Floating floors can be laid down on top of most hard surfaces such as vinyl, wood flooring or ceramic tiles and concrete with a moisture barrier. Do not install over carpeting or carpet padding. The subfloor must be flat, even and dry. Variations in the subfloor should not exceed 1/8″ over 8ft. Voids should be filled or you could feel a bounce in the floating floor over a void area. If laying on top of hardwood floors, the planks are normally laid across the existing floorboards or joists. All concrete and ceramic subfloors require a moisture barrier against dampness. This includes concrete floors topped with vinyl or other resilient flooring. Use a moisture barrier film with a minimum thickness of .01 inches and allow for at least 8 inches overlap between sheets before taping. Run the film up the walls at least 2 inches. You’ll trim it down after you affix the quarter round or baseboards.  Check out our underlayment options that have the moisture barrier incorporated into the pad required for floating floors.

Acclimate the snap-lock cork planks. Remove the plastic wrapping from the boxes to allow the warm room air (above 60 degrees) to circulate around the planks for a minimum of 3 days. As a wood product, cork responds to changes in temperature and humidity and you’ll want the product to be stabilized to the room before installing it.


Tools Needed
1/2″ Spacers
Rubber Mallet or Hammer
Tapping Block or Floating Floor Scrap
Hand, Jig, Table or Circular Saw
Deep Dish Paint Pan
Painters Stick
9″ Shurline-style Pain Pad
25′ Tape Measure


Laying the Planks:

1. Begin by laying down the plank in the corner of the room. Place the plank a ½” away from both walls at the corner. Using a ½” spacer will help maintain proper flooring placement. ( a good spacer can be cuts of material placed against the wall)

2. You are making the first long row of flooring in the room with the planks locked end to end, not side to side. Snap the next plank into the end of the first plank by placing it in at an angle (roughly 25 degrees) and then pushing it down and in until it locks flat and tight with no gap. Wiggle the new plank as you push down and into the first plank at the same time. You can tap it with the side of your hand or use a small tapping block to lightly tap the plank as you push it down and inward. Do not hammer directly on the clicking ridges or the cork as they will break. You can use a scrap piece of the floating floor panel as a tapping block also.

3. When you reach the end of the first row of flooring where you need to cut the plank, turn the last plank face down, slide it to a ½” away from the wall and mark the back of the plank for your cut.

4. Place the plank to be cut on a work surface and cut it to size using the mark you just made. You can cut the plank with a hand saw, table saw or circular saw.

5. Place the newly cut piece into place in the starting row and then use the remainder of the cut plank to start the 2nd row of flooring. Use this piece only if it is at least 10″ long. Otherwise cut a new plank in half and use a half to start the 2nd row. Leave a 7/16″gap from the wall just like the first row and snap the side of the plank into the side of the plank of the first row. Snap the plank by placing the long side of the plank into the long side of the plank of the previous row at an angle of roughly 25 degrees. Push down and in on the angled plank until it is flat on the floor. The planks should snap tightly together with no gap and lay flat. Each row of planks should be staggered or offset from the previous row a minimum of 10″, never a straight grid pattern. If necessary, use a small tapping block and small hammer to tap the plank into place so the end fits tightly into the end of the previous plank. Do not hammer directly on the snap-lock fiberboard ridge – always use a tapping block.


Laying the Floating Floor
6. Continue laying the rows of planks. When laying the last row, measure and cut the planks to fit but leave a 7/16″ space between the last row of planks and the wall.



Cork Floating Floor Layouts
7. Top Sealer Coat: Most floating floors do not require a top coat. Please review your specific product instructions for more information on the exact top coat product to use.  If a top coat is desired – After laying the floor planks, vacuum up any dust and dirt. Then roll of the top sealer coat of finish on the floor. Move methodically so as not to miss any spots. Do not move back and forth in a scrubbing motion but rather make a single pass the floor using plenty of finish. Finish can be applied with the use of a 3/8″ foam roller. Best results is to use a pull foam applicator. This will prevent air bubbles from possibly forming. (Shureline 9″ applicator pad works very well).


8. Let the finish dry for 4 hours before walking on it without shoes. After 24 hours, you can walk on the tiles with shoes. Do not use rubber-soled shoes on the new floor for several days as this might cause smudging to occur during the hardening period. Final hardness is achieved after 8 days. Protect the floor with masonite or paper if construction is continuing in the room. Do not cover with plastic or carpet during the curing process. Do not clean with water for 2 weeks.

9. Install quarter round or baseboards around the room to cover the ½” gap between the floating floor and walls.

Vacuum regularly. For more thorough cleaning use a damp mop with a mild Ph-balanced dish soap such as Liquid Joy. Use only a Damp mop, not a wet one, to prevent water from seeping between the planks. Too much water could cause the middle fiberboard to swell. Do not use abrasive or ammonia-based cleaning products. Protecting your floors from plants that leak water as well as felt sliders under chairs and furniture is always a good idea to keep your new investment looking good for years.