Types of Wood Flooring Installation

Rule number 1

For engineered Wood flooring ALWAYS follow the Manufacturer’s installation recommendations.

Not all wood flooring installation types are recommended for all wood floors.

For solid flooring, consult an NWFA Certified flooring professional. Visit National Wood Flooring Association to find Educational Resources and Certified Flooring Professionals at www.woodfloors.org

Four Types of Wood Flooring Installation Methods

There are four installation methods we will review here:

  • click lock floating
  • glue together floating
  • glue down
  • nail/staple

Which installation method is best?

This is dependent upon the TYPE of wood flooring and the conditions of your sub floor. Sub floor is the structural support for your flooring. Plywood, OSB, particleboard or concrete can all be subfloors.

Glueless Click Lock Floating

For this method, the flooring you choose must have a click together locking system. With the click-system, the planks interlock together by hand (without nails or adhesives). So, these floors can stay in place without nails or adhesives using the weight and tension created by the click system.

Having the appropriate underlay underneath is essential. Underlay serves as a sound absorbing layer. The glueless, click-lock float can be installed over any smooth, stable surface. This makes installing over any existing flooring like vinyl, tile, plywood, or hardwood, easy. More importantly, the floor must be completely level to avoid any issues caused from the lack of adhesive directly to the subfloor .

Glue Together Floating

The glue together method is similar to the process of the glueless click-lock float in that it does not use nails or adhesives directly on the subfloor. The difference is that instead of a click together locking system, it uses a traditional tongue and groove system (without lock) that is reinforced with a specific tongue and groove glue.

While the adhesive applied in the tongue and groove sets, the floors will need to dry and rest for at least 12 hours. Consequently, you can not have any activity, including moving any furniture on top of the surface at this method is very popular for engineered hardwood floors. With a sound absorbing underlay, they can be installed over any smooth, stable surface. Again, it is important that the glue together floating method be installed over a completely flat surface.

Glue Down Method

In this method, the wood is adhered directly to the subfloor using a full spread of adhesive. A hand trowel is used to apply the glue. The adhesive we recommend is the BONA line. BONA is environmentally friendly and does not emit harmful fumes or chemicals that could be dangerous to your health like other glues.

Removing old glue could be one of the many things required to prepare your subfloor. Old glue can react with New glue and create a chemical reaction that compromises the adhesive properties of the new glue. Glue down method is very popular for engineered hardwood flooring.

Nail or Staple Down   

The Nail or Staple down method is exactly as it sounds: special nails and staple are employed to fasten solid or engineered hardwood to the subfloor. Very specific sized nails and staples are dependent on the thickness of the wood floor and type of subfloor.  This varies by project and depends on recommendation of manufacturer or wood flooring professional.

We recommend installing an underlay. It is an efficient sound barrier, a vapor barrier and eliminates squeaks and creaks that can naturally develop with the expansion and contraction of the wood. That said, solid wood can exhibit more dramatic expansion and contraction compared to engineered. Engineered has many layers that contribute to its stability. The nail/staple down method can only be used over a wood subfloor (preferably plywood), as nails and staples will not easily be accepted by concrete or other materials.

Sounds a bit tricky? It is!

Choosing the correct install method is imperative. It will contribute greatly to the success or failure of your floor. Using an improper install method can result in a failing floor. Cupping, buckling, warping and delamination – trust us, it is not fun.

A failing floor can be upsetting, especially as it can usually be prevented. It is COSTLY and takes a lot of time to correct.

What to do?

Bring in an Expert. A REAL one.

At Eko Flooring and Woodwork as a Flooring Store, we offer Consultative Services with our own Tomasz Poznanski , Certified NWFA Flooring Inspector.

After your wood flooring purchase, we can test the moisture of the wood flooring and subfloor on site. We advise and assure on proper acclimation of the new wood flooring for the install environment. Then, we will consult with your general contractor or installer regarding installation method and proper subfloor preparation. 

Take Away Message…

Do yourself a favor and have the Inspector onsite before you install your floors. It will save you a lot of time and money.

Ask a friend who has a failing floor, they wish they thought of that!

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