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The plugin gets the position of current element, once the scroll is at the same position it makes that element fixed, taking it out of flow. So it doesn’t matter if element is floated or whatever, you’re essentially restyling it.

But that’s the point. Since you’re taking it out of the flow, the rest of the page will act on that. And that’s exactly what can’t happen — the element should just stick, and nothing else on the page should change or react. The only safe way to do that is to not take it out of the flow.

To be clear I wasn’t confused about floats… rather, how much padding and how to determine that.

No need to determine anything — the cloning method just takes care of that. :) But like I said, just padding is not enough.