How to Lay Floating Tongue and Groove Flooring Part 1

Tongue and Groove Flooring
  • 3-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 200-500
What You'll Need
Floating tongue and groove flooring
Vapor barrier
Foam underlayment
Undercutting saw (only needed if removing carpet)
Seam tape

Installing floating tongue and groove flooring can provide you with a beautiful floor in any area of the house. Using a floating installation will also allow you to easily install the job yourself. Here are the basics of how to get started laying floating tongue and groove flooring.

NOTE: This is Part 1 of a 3 part series. To move ahead to Part 2, click here.

Step 1--Acclimate the Flooring

Once you get access to the flooring, you should put it in the room in which you plan on installing it. Make sure that you allow 24 to 48 hours so that the flooring can acclimate to its surroundings. Flooring will expand and contract when it is put into a different environment. This means that you need to let it get used to the temperature and humidity in the room before installing. Otherwise, you could run into problems with the floor buckling and breaking at the joints in the future.

Step 2--Prepare the Room

You need to prepare the room before you can lay the flooring. Take everything out of the room including personal items and furniture. If you have carpet on the floor, you will need to take it up and remove it from the room. You should also take off the quarter round or baseboards around the outside of the room. Take your undercutting saw and undercut the door jambs as well. This will allow you to slide the flooring directly up under the edge of the door jamb.

Step 3--Installing the Vapor Barrier

If you are dealing with a concrete subfloor, you will need to first install a vapor barrier before you can install the flooring. This type of vapor barrier comes in small rolls. Unroll one of the rolls and cover the subfloor. Continue unrolling the rolls of vapor barrier until you have covered the entire room. Tape the edges of the vapor barrier together. You should also run the vapor barrier up the wall about 2 inches. Later on, you will cover up this part of the moisture barrier with your baseboards.

Step 4--Install Underlayment

Once you have the vapor barrier in place, you can then install the foam underlayment. This will also come in rolls so that it is easy to handle. Unroll one of the rolls across the floor. Continue unrolling these rolls until the entire surface of the floor is covered with foam underlayment. Just like you did with the vapor barrier, you will need to tape the edges of the foam underlayment together. When you get to the edge of the room, use your utility knife to trim away the excess underlayment.

Step 5--Position First Board

You can then start by installing the first board. Lay it in one of the corners of the room. When you do this, you will want to make sure that you allow approximately 1/4 inch for an expansion gap between the board and the wall. You can insert small wedges between the board and the wall for guidance. This gap is necessary so that the floor can expand and contract throughout the year.