Nails, Glue, or Neither? What Kind of Floor Installation is Best?


Did you know that there is more than one way to install floorboards? In fact, there are three very different processes for doing so; nailing them down, gluing, and the lock-and-go floating floor method. Each one has its own purpose and challenges, so you need to carefully consider which method is best for your room before taking on your next DIY project.

1. Nail Down Flooring

This installation process is the most common among homeowners and often what people first think of how a floor is installed. The title is pretty self explanatory as it involves nailing or stapling your floorboards directly to the subfloor. Professionals and DIYers alike favor this method because it is as close to permanent as any floor installation is going to get, cost effective due to the minimal supplies needed, can be easily repaired, and is superior to other methods in terms of look and feel.

Now, there are a few things you will have to take into consideration before green-lighting this method. While nails and a good moisture barrier are really the only items required for the floor itself, you may have to spend some extra money on any equipment you don't already have, such as a heavy-duty nail gun, router, or jamb saw. You will also have to make sure the sub-flooring can handle the installation. Nailing your floor to a subfloor that sits on concrete (like in basements or condos) is not going to give you the results you're looking for. It is best to use this method for grade and above grade installations. Be sure to consult a flooring contractor before attempting a nail down installation.

2. Glue Down Flooring

Glue down flooring can be installed at any grade on almost any subfloor. With this method you won't have to worry about your floorboards moving around much, as they will be held in place by a layer of special glue. If you want to go the extra mile, you can combine the glue down method with the nail down one. Those floorboards won't be going anywhere!

An added bonus to using the glue down method is that you don't have to spend money on an extra underlayment. The glue will work as its own vapor barrier. You will also get to feel as though your engineered boards are genuine hardwood since gluing them down will give a more solid feel and a sound that mimics authentic wood almost perfectly.

One of the potential downsides to this method is that the glue can be a bit smelly when you're installing the floor. Be sure to wear a mask to avoid inhaling some of the pungent fumes of certain glues. If you're doing this project on your own you will also need to do a bit of research on how to properly lay the boards down and how to clean up any imperfections before they've dried. Waiting to do so will make a lot of extra work for you later.

3. Floating Floors

This method is a DIYer's best friend! Floating floors provide you with the fastest and easiest form of installation. All you have to do is clip or glue the boards together and let it "float" above the sub-flooring. This leaves room for a bit of movement, but this is minimal.

Like glue down flooring, floating floors can be installed at any grade. Above, on grade, or below, you're set. And like we said before, this is the fastest method out there and, in the right circumstances, can be completed in just a day's time! Imagine how satisfying it would be to save that much time on a floor installation!

There are a few extra expenses that come with floating floors. You will need to purchase an underlayment to work as a moisture barrier and to soften the sound of the floor. A moisture measuring kit is also required since you will have to take readings before installing the floor. Skipping this step could lead to an improper installation.

Lastly, a completely flat surface is required to install a floating floor. This isn't just about looks. If your floor is uneven it will produce extra noise when walked upon. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but trust us, it is annoying to deal with!

So, what kind of floor installation sounds best to you? Let us know in the comments below!

Happy Flooring!

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