When considering engineered hardwood flooring there are only two installation options, floating or glue-down. Both of these flooring options have benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to familiarise yourself with what each of these installation methods has to offer so you can decide which method will work best for you.
Let’s compare them side by side
Glue Down 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.
Sounds like solid wood
Engineered wood might sound and feel awkward to customers when they actually walk on it. A lot of the time it will sound hollow and feel spongy underfoot. If you use glue for installation you can make the engineered floor sound like a solid wood floor by improving the acoustic value, provided you have eliminated hollow spots in the floor preparation.
Greater floor coverage
You can have a greater floor coverage before an expansion gap is required. Due to the elasticity of the adhesive your expansion gap allowance is less than that of a floating floor.
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 a safety mask is a good defense against any noxious odors from certain glue types.
Not easily removed, repaired or replaced
These floors are more difficult to remove if you decide you want to replace them down the road, and you’ll be working much harder to take off the adhered boards than you would with a simple click and lock type of a floating floor.
Labour intensive and time consuming installation method associated with higher cost.
Floating hardwood floors can be installed above, below, or on ground level. It is a great option for when you need to install over radiant heat systems. Floating floors also work over just about any subfloor provided it is prepared to certain specifications these include plywood, ceramic tile, linoleum floors, and concrete are all no problem for a floating floor installation.
Ease of installation
FINOak’s easy “click lock” system is designed so that the flooring will lock into itself, and thus negate the need for any sort of fastener or adhesive. It is significantly faster to install than a traditional glue down method.
With an easy click system it’s possible to install an entire room of this type of flooring in just a day or two for most flooring professionals as ther is less preparation.
Easy to repair
Should a panel become irreparable you can unclip and easily remove the damaged panel and insert the replacement.
Can have a hollow sound
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 results in a “hollow” sound. This can be reduced by using an acoustic underlay.
Foam underlayments are required
When installing a floating floor, there is traditionally a foam layer installed between the subfloor and the engineered hardwood. The underlay serves a few purposes. One is to act as a moisture barrier. Another is to act as a sound-dampener.
Moisture content must still be recorded
Moisture content readings before installation. Failure to do so can result in an improper installation.
When trying to decide on the best hardwood flooring installation method it’s important to really think about what you value the most and to choose an option based on your preferences.
If you want a simple and easy floor installation floating floors are a good option. If you have a difficult subfloor to work with, floating floors are your best bet. If you want a more realistic sounding floor, glue down hardwood flooring options are best.