Hardwood Hints: The Challenges of Floating Wood Flooring Installations

When installing baseboards after installing a floating wood floor, it can be challenging when we are told NOT to push down onto the flooring because it may restrict free movement. As an installer of traditional wood floors, we would normally push down on the base to eliminate gaps. But with floating wood flooring installations, there needs to be movement. NWFA Installation Guidelines and most manufacturers’ instructions are now asking for 1/16” gap between base, jambs, and casing, to allow the floor to continue floating freely, without being pinched to the floor.

We use drywall shims that are 2” wide and 3’ or longer. They are cardboard and easy to use, and reuse. We use one or two together laid under the baseboards while we’re installing them. Now, we can push down slightly when nailing them up, then slide the shims out and we have a fairly straight and consistent gap or space. The floated wood floor remains free moving.

The gap needed with baseboards or when undercutting jambs and (or) casing should be explained during any conversations with your customer if you are doing this work.

For additional information about floating wood flooring installations, check out the NWFA’s Installation Guidelines at nwfa.org/technical-guidelines/.

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