Redoing your floors? 'Floating' materials affordable, easy to install


Hammering, nailing, gluing: Putting in a new floor may seem daunting. But it doesn't have to be. Consumer Reports says there's another option that's easy to install, affordable and can go right over your existing floor. These "floating" floors come in a variety of materials, including plastic laminate, solid wood, ceramic, cork and bamboo.

"We try to look for flooring that's going to hold up the best under any circumstances," said John McAloon, a Consumer Reports editorial producer.

Flooring is run through a scrubbing machine to see how well it survives a lot of foot traffic. A test checks whether floors will stain. Testers apply everything from mustard to crayon and shoe polish, and a "dent test" looks at the floor's resistance.

Ceramic tiles are the top-rated floating flooring, although like any tile, they'll crack if hit hard enough. They snap together easily and are impervious to stains, scuffs and scratching. They're Snapstone, available at Lowe's for about $7.50 per square foot.

"If you install the set yourself, you could save $400 to $500 on the average kitchen," said McAloon.

Pre-finished bamboo flooring from Teragren costs $7.50 per square foot. If you have your heart set on wood, Consumer Reports top-rated it. It clicks together easily -- no nails or glue necessary.

Consumer Reports says for an average-size room, installing a floating floor can be done in a day. And you can walk on it right away -- no waiting for glue to set or finish to dry.

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