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Wood Floor Installation Methods

When most people think about installing wood floors, they envision a hammer and nails. The reality, however, is that there are several options available for installing wood floors, including nail down, glue down and floating.

Nailing down wood floors is the most common installation method. The process involves nailing or stapling the wood flooring directly to a wood subfloor. Typically, the flooring is blind nailed through the tongue into the wooden subfloor so that the nails are not visible after the flooring is installed. This installation method works for both solid and engineered wood floors, but only for wood subfloors.

The glue down installation method involves using adhesive to adhere the flooring directly to the subfloor, or to a moisture barrier installed directly over the subfloor. Adhesives work by creating a bond between the subfloor and the wood flooring through a chemical reaction process. While all adhesives work on the same principle of changing chemically from a viscose liquid to a solid, they differ in the carrying agents or catalysts that activate them based on the chemical properties of the adhesive. This installation method is most common with engineered wood floors being installed over concrete slabs.

The final wood flooring installation method is floating. With this process, the flooring material is neither nailed nor glued to the subfloor, but floated above it. The flooring material, usually engineered, is either glued or clipped to itself, both tongue to groove, and at end joints. This gives the floor stability, without actually fastening it to the subfloor beneath it. This type of installation is ideal over existing flooring material, such as ceramic or laminates.

To learn more about the benefits of wood floors, visit the NWFA's consumer web site at, and click on the "All About Wood Floors" link. You also can find a wood flooring professional in your area by visiting the "Find a Professional or Product" link.

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