When it comes to engineered hardwood floors, two common methods of installation are floating and glue-down. The following is a rundown of all the basics you need to know about these two installation methods.
Floating Hardwood Floor Installation
Floating hardwood floors can be installed above, below, or on grade. It is a great option for when you need to install over radiant heat systems. Floating floors also work over just about any subfloor. Plywood, ceramic tile, linoleum floors, and concrete are no problem for a floating floor installation.
Ease of installation
A good majority of engineered floors come with “click lock” systems. This system is designed so that the flooring will lock into itself, and thus negate the need for any sort of fastener or adhesive. Other styles of floating floors are installed via glue seam. This method is where the mechanic puts a bead of glue into the groove part of the floor. In each case, it is significantly faster than installing with a traditional glue and trowel method. Depending on the size of the room, it is conceivable that an entire floor install could be completely installed in one day’s time.
Substrate must be flat
Due to the nature of a floating floor, the substrate the floor is installed over must be flat within a certain threshold (commonly 1/8” in 10’). Once a floating floor is installed it acts like one giant entity. Any parts of the subfloor that are not level will contribute to an uneven floor board that’s results in a “hollow” or “tinny sound.”
Foam underlayments are traditionally used
When installing a floating floor, there is traditionally a foam layer installed between the subfloor and the engineered hardwood. The underlayment serves a few purposes. One is to act as a moisture barrier. Another is to act as a sound-dampener. Floating floors can sometimes sound hollow when walked upon. By using a foam underlayment it reduces the chance for this noise.
Moisture content must still be recorded
Floating floors aren’t a catch-all solution to installing floors. You still must take moisture content readings before and during installation. Failure to do so can result in an improper installation.
Click here to learn more about recording moisture in a hardwood floor.
Glue-Down Hardwood Floor Installation
Reduces — but does not eliminate — wood movement
The adhesives used to glue wood down to a subfloor make for an extremely strong bond. Newer adhesives are elastomeric. They allow the wood board to expand and contract but they do not grow or shrink nearly as much as they would with a floating or nail down installation.
Sounds like solid wood
Engineered wood might sound and feel awkward to customers when they actually walk on it. A lot of the times it will sound hollow and the feel underfoot spongy. If you use glue for installation you can make the engineered floor sound like a solid wood floor. If you are gluing down a floor to a concrete subfloor it will sound and feel as if solid wood has been installed. Thinking about installing an engineered hardwood floor? Browse our selection.
Glue is its own vapor barrier
There’s no need for an extra underlayment. A good quality adhesive will act as a vapor barrier.
Great for parquet
Whether it’s fingerboards, herringbone, or any other type of parquet flooring, glue-down is a great option for installation. It’s the only tried and true method for parquet floor installations.
Click here to learn about using a glue gun with parquet floors.
Glue must be cleaned up properly
If any glue gets on the top of the floor board or in between the boards it must be cleaned up immediately and to the specifications of the manufacturer. The adhesive used to install hardwood floors is extremely hard to clean up once it is has dried.
Glue sometimes has an odor
Depending on the type of adhesive it might emit a strong odor. Wearing an organic vapor cartridge mask is a good defense against any noxious odors from certain glue types.