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I have been looking at flooring choices for my new home. The house currently has carpeting on the upper story and a cheap laminate floor on the ground floor. I'm planning on replacing both.

I've been very interested in stranded solid bamboo flooring, due to the environmental advantages of bamboo, the hardness of the stranded product, and the style.

Many of the floors I have been looking at can be installed either with glue, nails, or as a floating "click and lock".

The floating installation is obviously less expensive since there is less labor involved. So what would be the benefits and downsides of choosing a floating installation instead of nailed?

  • My opinion is that the "floating" installation will always feel temporary and not carry a solid impression. – Michael Karas Nov 4 '12 at 20:14
  • Please specify: is the ground floor a slab? It constrains your options if so. – Bryce Nov 8 '12 at 21:21
  • Well, I wasn't able to get this particular house, but I might find myself with this same question with the next house. The ground floor was not a slab in this situation, it was a crawl-space foundation. – natemartinsf Dec 4 '12 at 2:31
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Benefits are:

  • cost (less expensive)
  • easier to install (can = less cost if labor costs are involved)
  • easier to remove (in case the future owner hates it and/or you need to make repairs)
  • uses less finished wood (arguably more 'green' though with bamboo, it's already fairly green to begin with)

Downsides:

  • the finished surface is thinner, so you can't refinish the floor as much as you can with solid wood
  • being thinner, you may have a different 'feel' underfoot.
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    Thanks! However, this is a solid bamboo, not engineered. For example, lumberliquidators.com/ll/c/… Does the downside about refinishing still apply? This is 1/2" thick, so would the fact that it is floating instead of nailed still feel different? – natemartinsf Nov 4 '12 at 20:43
  • I've never heard of a click-lock flooring product that was solid finish surface wood through and through. It may very well exist, but I've never seen it, and I don't see anything on that site that explicitly states that. AFAIK, nearly all click-lock flooring is engineered with a finish surface laminated to a backing substrate (that forms the tongue and groove) – DA01 Nov 4 '12 at 22:19
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    I have a sample I picked up from the showroom that is "click lock" and it is certainly solid all the way through, no laminations. Must be a new thing. – natemartinsf Nov 4 '12 at 22:35
  • So your sample has the tongue and groove on it? Huh. that's a new thing, I guess. You may still have limited refinishing options due to the tongue and groove, but likely more than with the engineered product. – DA01 Nov 5 '12 at 1:29
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In general, floating surfaces can be louder when you walk on them. This is more noticable on subflooring that is rough or uneven. The sound can be clicking/slapping/hollow sounds. Depending on the underlayment, the floor can feel springier than glued or nailed flooring.

I recommend having an installer do glue-down on concrete subfloor, or nail-down on a raised foundation. The solid feel and less sound when walking on it is worth the extra installation dollars, in my opinion.

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Put in laminate flooring in my house back in april. we debated the same thing. We ended up going with the floating type for a few reasons. cost was cheaper, install was simpler, and still gave us the desired result. we really haven't noticed any issues with the sound from walking on the floor, apart from the normal difference between carpet and a solid wood surface. We opted for a newer laminate that is also waterproof, as we have young kids that like to spill. so now a spill wont do damage to the flooring unless its left for more than 24 hours (never going to happen).

Overall it really comes down to your preference and budget. If you are concerned more about the sound, Lumber Liquidators has a thick, sound resistant underlayment you can use instead of the standard. in the end the floating is mainly easier to work with/install.

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