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I'm looking to do a hardwood floor in my second floor condo in Santa Fe, NM. Since it's not below grade or anything, I'm wondering if I could float an interlocking solid wood floor, or if I have to put down a plywood subfloor on top of the concrete. I have to lay down at least 6mm cork anyway (even considering 12mm), for the sake of my downstairs neighbor. With that plus a moisture barrier directly on top of the concrete, should I be safe?

Follow up: would the answer be different with bamboo flooring?

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If you mean a 3/4" or 5/8" thick tongue and groove hardwood flooring, no, that is for nail or staple down only. Click-lock laminate flooring is made for floating installations, you may find an engineered wood floor for floating install too.

If you want a true hardwood floor, there is a nail base that I have used for below grade basements that would work in your situation for sound proofing or deadening. You will not need it for moisture barrier, nor should you need a layer of poly for the same reason. You are not installing on a below grade or slab on grade situation where the infiltration of moisture would be a concern.

The material is a 2' by 2' square of OSB with a plastic "dimple mat". It is available at the big box stores and will serve as a great nail base and sound deadening, but you will need to deal with the new height of your floors which will be over an 1 1/2" than what you have now. It will affect door clearance at the bottom and maybe cabinets.

There are engineered harwood floors for floating install. There are rolls of lead impregnated vinyl sheets that are used for sound deadening that can go down first as the underlayment. This will keep the thickness down so perhaps you will not need to cut all your door bottoms in the area of the new floor.

As a note, again, with your concrete floors being well above grade, you should not have an issue with moisture. If you do, there are bigger issues need to be resolved by the building manager first.

  • What about something like this which is solid click lock? – Octavian Jun 9 '17 at 20:10
  • Absolutely, read the install guide and follow the instructions fully. I am not a big fan of "T" trips between rooms or shoe mold as they show for some finish details, but that is the nature of using floating flooring... – Jack Jun 9 '17 at 20:30
  • Sorry, I think I wasn't clear - would something like that be able to be used essentially as an engineered floor rather than as a solid wood floor (though it is solid bamboo)? Does the way flooring is made with bamboo allow it to be used differently? – Octavian Jun 9 '17 at 20:47
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    It is more the purpose the manufacturer states for its use. The supplier you are referring to specifically states the floor is for floating installs. It really should not matter whether it is one type of wood or another, engineered or solid. The important thing is the way it is milled so that it holds together and not separate at the joints where the pieces meet. Nail down or stapled flooring have a different edge detail so it is required to nail. – Jack Jun 10 '17 at 0:13

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