Floating Click Systems 101: Installing Laminate Flooring and LVT
Floating click systems are designed to make installations easier while also offering greater flexibility in both layout and repairs. We spoke to two professional installers about their experiences working with these types of systems in both laminate flooring and luxury vinyl tile and plank. The bottom line is yes, the systems do make flooring easier to install, but considerations still must be made to ensure a professional job.
Oscar Gonzales, president of Professional Flooring Installation in San Antonio, said working with click installation systems in laminate and luxury vinyl comes down mainly to one thing: reviewing the instructions. He noted once you get a handle on how the system works, it’s easy, but it’s always better to read the directions at least once instead of just assuming one click system will work the same way as another system.
“When laminate came out in the ‘90s, you had to glue all the grooves,” he remembers. “It was a great product but where it really caused difficulties was repairs and you had to cut the groove. The click systems are great because it installs so quickly. If you need to replace a plank you just click it out and click a new one in.”
Click systems also offer more options for creative installations. “There are a lot of clients who want the borders of the installation in a different color, for example. You still have to figure out how to make the pattern, but once you get down to installing, it’s easy. It’s a lot quicker versus the old laminate where you had to go in and glue it, clean it up and let it dry. This is just so easy. Click and you’re done.”
Gonzales said he sees no sign of luxury vinyl’s popularity slowing down. “In a lot of ways it is taking the place of sheet vinyl. Realtors are asking for a lot of vinyl plank. It offers easy maintenance, it’s very durable and if there is a repair it’s much easier to make than having to cut out a sheet vinyl pattern and put another pattern in there.”
According to Kelly Huddleston, CFI Master II Flooring Installer and owner of Kelly Flooring in La Junta. Colo., luxury vinyl has exploded in his area of the country as well. “Hospitals, schools and nursing homes all love that stuff. It’s also much easier to be creative – doing borders and diagonals and that kind of thing.”
He said luxury vinyl planks and tiles are also selected for ease of maintenance. “You have to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, but once you understand the warranties on those things the majority of those types of products are outstanding. I find most of these products to be a lot more durable than sheet goods at the moment. Lots of glass-backed and vinyl-backed vinyls aren’t as durable and are really thin.”
Huddleston also likes how easy it is to make fixes with luxury vinyl products. “There’s no such thing as a patch or a splice; you just replace a few planks. Luxury vinyl planks and tiles are easier for everybody—not just the customers.”
He is experienced in several different types of luxury vinyl installations, from click systems to self-adhering, to square-edged tiles with a non-skid backing that you simply butt up against each other. “Clicks are alright, but sometimes I feel the system doesn’t have enough bite in the click for them to hold. Make sure you do your research into the system before putting it down.”
Huddleston offers one more word of advice. “Acclimate these products. It doesn’t matter if it’s a glue-down, click lock or square-edge. If you don’t acclimate you are absolutely asking for trouble. Most of these products require a minimum 24 hours in the space.”
He added, “Luxury vinyl is definitely the big thing right now, and with the ease of installation you might think there’s nothing to worry about. If you do it right, it will make you look good. But if you screw it up, it sure will bite you in the tail.”