For Christmas 2009, I built Heather a dance floor.
With the help of Andrew (and a whole bunch of Home Depot gift cards), we bought the material, and got it all installed while she was out shopping with her mom. Surprise, dance floor!
(Credit due: then-to-be step-father-in-law Allen helped finish it off, since I didn’t have a drill capable of going through cement).
The floor is a sprung floor, meaning it has some padding to it. It’ll absorb some of the impact shock when you dance, so it’s much easier on your knees and back.It’s also a floating floor, which means that it isn’t physically attached to the wall or the floor. However, I did put a “holding box” around it to keep it in place.
I’ve been asked quite a few times how to build the dance floor, so I figured: why not put it on a publicly accessible network of information! Tah-dah!
The instructions below are to build an 8′ x 8′ floor in an unfinished basement. You can scale up the floor size fairly easily by just buying more material. The cost of material may have gone up or down slightly since 2009, but expect the costs to be around $200 for a 64 square foot area. I would highly recommend making this at least a two person job. There’s a bit of heavy lifting, and some parts where two sets of hands will work better.
Materials (and at-the-time cost)
- 4 sheets of 5/8″ plywood, 4′ x 8′. Try to get interlocking plywood. $6.75/sheet ($27 total)
- 64 sq ft of interlocking laminate. This is for the surface of the floor, so don’t worry about getting the top-shelf stuff. You’re going to scratch and scuff it, especially if you’re a tapper. If you don’t like laminate, you can instead sand and finish the top-layer of plywood instead. I went the laminate route. I found a nice looking laminate for $0.97/sqft.
- Vapour barrier. You’ll need a thick layer up plastic under the floor to keep moisture from getting trapped and rotting it. I bought a $15 roll of thick black sheeting that was about 1′ wide, and laid down several overlapping strips.
- Padding. Here’s the heart-and-soul of the floor. I used 5/16″ thick Eco Foam cut into appropriate sizes. You can also use those multi-colored foam floor pads that are often on sale. As long as it’s at least 1/2″, and stiff, it should work. Don’t go with anything too squishy, or it’ll end up too compressed. I ended up using 60 sq feet of padding, for $46.
- No More Nails, Foamboard. You MUST get the Foamboard version of No More Nails, or the foam won’t stick nicely to the wood. You’ll use about 1 tube for each side. I’d get 3 tubes to be safe. If you can, get the tubes that fit in the caulking gun to save yourself some squeezing. $6.89 per tube.
- 1 1/4″ wood screws. You can also get flooring screws. They must be long enough to go through the top layer of wood, and the foam, and embed in the second layer of wood. So if you use a thicker layer of wood for you surface, be sure to take that into account. You’ll need about 1/square foot of floor. Just get the 100 pack for $8. Better to have too many than too few.
- 3 lengths of 8′ long 2″ x 2″ wood. These form the perimeter around the floor to keep it in place. You may need more or less than 3 pieces. I built my floor so it was only touching one wall. If you build it in a corner, you only need 2 pieces. If you fill an entire room, you’ll need no pieces. They’re about $2 a piece.
- Tapcom screws. Also known as cement screws. They’ll need to be long enough to go through the “perimeter” wood, and into your cement basement floor by, if I recall, 1″. The packaging says for sure. You’ll need 3 screws for each 8′ length of wood. If you’re building on something other than cement (like a finished wood floor), I suppose you could use deck screws instead. Again, you can skip this if you’re building wall-to-wall on all four sides.
- Power drill to drill the wood screws in.
- Impact drill for the cement screws (ask the hardware store specialist if you have the right tool. I didn’t, and had to borrow one)
- Tape measure
- Saw for cutting lengths of laminate click flooring
- Any click-floor laying tools recommended by the brand you’re buying. I did it by hand and rubber mallet, but I understand there’s some nifty tools that make the job easier.
- Caulking gun
- Exacto knife
Once you’ve got it all, you’re ready to go!
Assembling the floor:
I don’t have any step-by-step photos, since I was silly and didn’t take any at the time. However, here is what a cross-section of the floor should look like:
- Clear your workspace. Make sure the floor is clear of any dust, debris or moisture.
- Check the level of the floor. You can get away with some less-than-level basement, but make sure it isn’t too crazy.
- Lay down the vapour barrier. Put down more than you’ll need, so it overlaps the floor. You’ll cut away the excess later. Tape it down for now.
- Lay the first layer of plywood. This is the very foundation of the floor, so make sure it’s in the right place.
- If you bought less than 100% coverage of foam, cut it into strips about 1′ wide. Lay down strips all along the perimeter, so there’s 100% coverage. Then build up a grid inside. 1′ of foam, 1′ of space. Don’t overlap any foam, there should only be a single layer.
- No More Nails down the foam to the first layer of plywood. Let it dry just enough so the foam isn’t flying around.
- Put a second layer of No More Nails on the top-layer of the foam.
- Lay down the second layer of plywood directly on top of the foam.
- Drill together the two layers of wood using the wood/floor screws. Space them about 1′ apart. Make sure the perimeter has full coverage, then screw the inside. This will hold the plywood together, and provide a tight bond with the No More Nails and foam.
- Either sand-and-finish the top layer, or lay down the click flooring. If your floor is only touching one wall, make sure the flooring runs perpendicular to the wall.
- Lay down the perimeter 2″x2″ wood lengths. Build up a “holding box” around the floor.
- Drill the perimeter wood into place using the Tapcom.
You’re done! There’s some finishing touches you can do– like staining the perimeter wood, or putting in an incline ramp up to the floor. That’s all up to you.