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Last edited 14 Jul 2020
Click and lock flooring
The term ‘flooring’ refers to the lower enclosing surface of spaces within buildings. This may be part of the floor structure, such as the upper surface of a concrete slab or floor boards, but typically it is a permanent covering laid over the floor. There are many types of flooring materials available.
Click and lock flooring (also known as snap and lock flooring, lock flooring, drop and lock flooring, snap lock flooring or click together flooring) is a type of flooring that is primarily used on floating floors over subfloors. As a type of floating floor, click and lock floors are not fixed to the substrate layer below (which may be, for example, the structural floor, an underlay, an underfloor heating construction or acoustic or thermal insulation).
Floating floors are held in place by a combination of their own weight, the boundaries of the room in which they are laid, the fixings between the elements of the floating floor, and friction between the floating floor and the substrate. Floating floors are particularly common in refurbishment works, and can be used to help improve the thermal or acoustic insulation of a floor construction.
Click and lock flooring can be manufactured in boards or planks of varying lengths and widths. It is most commonly produced in engineered wood, laminate and other materials such as cork, vinyl and engineered bamboo. Historically, it has not generally been used for solid hardwood flooring, although this is now becoming more widely available.
Engineered flooring typically consists of boards made up of three or four layers of laminated timber, held together at right angles by glue to create a plank typically of around 14mm thickness. Laminate flooring is a compressed fibreboard plank covered with an image of a material such as timber, stone, tiles and so on that is then given a protective coating.
These planks have specially milled tongue and groove (T&G) treatments on each edge. Angled tongue (male) projections are formed onto one edge of a board while a matching angled groove (female) recession is cut on the other edge. The tongue of one board fits into the groove of the adjoining board to form a strong, flush joint.
Tongue and groove joints are variations on the mortise and tenon joint, but instead of joining two pieces at a right angle (like a mortise and tenon joint), the tongue and groove connection creates a strong parallel joint. However, unlike basic tongue and groove flooring, click lock flooring joins at the interlocking edge and then gets snapped into place through the application of firm, downward pressure.
As click and lock products do not require glue or nails, they are popular options for do-it-yourself flooring installation. It is generally a fairly quick process that does not necessarily require a professional contractor.
An important part of the installation process is the preparation of the flooring surface. While it may or may not be necessary to remove old flooring, a suitable underlay should always be used. For noise reduction, it is advisable to use high quality underlay materials under click and lock flooring.
Since this installation method creates a floating surface, it is possible to put one floor on top of another, with underlay in between, as long as the surface is clean, flat and dry, and the subfloor is solid and jointless. It is not suitable for uneven wood floors or carpet.
- Concrete slab.
- Natural stone (if smooth).
- Oriented Strand Board (OSB) or particleboard.
- Porcelain tile.
- Vinyl tiles, sheets or planks.
Before installation, materials should be given time to acclimatise to their environment. The unopened boxes can sit for 48 hours or more at normal room temperature to give them time to adjust. If the boards have not been given enough time to acclimatise, boards can buckle or gaps can develop. This problem can be resolved with a device called a floor gap fixer after the installation is complete, but it is advisable to take suitable precautions beforehand.
Next, it may be beneficial to arrange the materials on the floor in a mock up before installing them. While the click and lock method isn’t permanent, this planning step helps to anticipate cuts and adjustments created by the shape of the room or difficult areas around doors.
It is important to leave slight gaps between the floor and the wall for expansion once the boards are locked in place. This can be covered later with a profiled edge trim, or filled with a flexible filler.
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