When it comes to locking hardwood floors, this is one of the easiest installations around. When it comes to flooring, a glue-down application is at the skilled end of the spectrum and best left to the pro or semi-pro. At the other end is the interlocking floating floor, the perfect product for the ambitious novice.
Installation is easily described, but not quite as quick to master. After removing your baseboard trim, the first row is laid with around 1/2 gap between the floor and the wall. (Specific distance is up to the manufacturer, so read the instructions carefully.) Use a spacer to hold the floor away from the wall; remove the spacer when all rows are complete and before reattaching baseboard.
Rows are tapped into place using a block of wood which is placed against the plank and tapped with a hammer. The tongue and groove planks click together. For a square room, the only cuts you will need to make are for length at the end of the room and to allow for vents. Check DIY websites for more detail and for video and text tutorials.
Locking floors have a number of advantages that other systems lack to some degree:
Stability: An interlocking, free-floating floor expands and contracts with the changing conditions like any other floor, but it expands and contracts as a unit. Provided you leave the appropriate gap at the edge between the flooring and the wall, the risk of buckling due to pressure is eliminated.
Simplicity: No nailer, no compressor, no glue, no glue clean up. What you need to install an interlocking floor is some basic hand tools and miter saw.
There are a couple of trade-offs that come with a floating floor. These should be evaluated for your situation and weighed against budget, savings, and your skill level.
Resale value: A solid hardwood floor has an appeal to a buyers ear that a laminate floor may not. Be aware that a floating floor may not have the sex appeal that a solid floor does.
Feel: Many people prefer the heavy, solid feel of a more traditional floor underfoot. A floating floor is meant to give and to move a little against the subfloor. This can be aided by making sure the subfloor is as flat as possible. If youre going to save money and time in the flooring itself, reinvest a little of both into a first-rate subfloor application.