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A glue-down hardwood floor is one of the strongest and most durable floor materials you can choose. These floors are made of engineered wood, which is thin layers glued together for maximum strength and stability.

Gluing down a hardwood floor is a lot of work and requires some special knowledge. This guide is here to tell you everything you need to know to DIY a glue-down wood floor.

To protect your investment in high-quality flooring, it’s key that you follow the steps below and plan ahead at every step. If you do that and install your glue-down floor correctly, it should last you for many years.

Glue down hardwood flooring

How Much Hardwood Flooring Do I Need?

Hardwood flooring is sold by the carton, so you will need to know how many cartons to buy. 

Start by getting a good measurement of the room. If you are buying your flooring in person, the salesman may be able to come to your house and measure the rooms for you.

After you have an accurate measurement of the whole area where you plan to install hardwood, you need to add some extra flooring to account for the cutting process and damaged pieces that you won’t be using. 

Flooring experts recommend you add 5% to the total area for cutting waste. You should also add about 10% for defective or damaged boards in the package.

That means that if you are installing hardwood in a room of 200 square feet, you should order about 230 square feet of flooring (115% of the room’s area).

This much extra wood will ensure you can finish the floor without ordering more flooring and you will probably have a few boards left over in case you need them for a repair in the future.

Quarter-Round and Transition Pieces

Quarter-round is a special trim designed to make the edges of your hardwood floor look smooth and neat as they meet the walls. There are also various wooden transitions you can use to blend your hardwood into rooms with other flooring types.

Measure all the edges of your rooms and choose the right transitions. You may want to order an extra 10%-15% of material, when practical, to allow for cuts and defects.

Order all quarter-round and transition pieces in a matching stain color.

Preparing the Subfloor

The surface below a hardwood floor is very important. It needs to be smooth, clean, and flat to ensure a good hardwood installation. The good news is that engineered hardwood flooring can be glued down on top of a concrete floor and even in a basement, both factors that were impossible with traditional solid wood flooring.

To prepare your subfloor for wood flooring, take a long straightedge or level and use it to check for high and low spots on the floor. If the straight edge rocks from end to end, there is a high spot in the middle. If the ends of the straightedge touch the subfloor but the middle is unsupported, there is a low spot.

Any variation greater than ¼ inch over a 6-foot span needs to be corrected. Smaller variations are ok. If the floor is severely off of level, you may need to lay ¼-inch plywood underlayment across the whole floor. If you just have a few spots to correct, you can use the following steps.

How to Level a Concrete Subfloor

You can fill low spots in concrete with an affordable concrete patch mix. Just spread some of the patch out on the low spots with a wide putty knife and blend it evenly to the edges.

There are some products that you pour onto a floor as a liquid and they then set up as a solid, self-leveling patch. These are expensive and harder to use, so try to stick to a regular patch mix unless you have special circumstances.

You can use a stiff metal scraper or a heavy chisel and a hammer to knock off small high spots on the concrete. 

How to Level a Wooden Subfloor

On wood subfloors, it’s easy to lower high spots with an electric sander. Use medium-grit sandpaper to remove a layer of the flooring until it falls within the ¼-inch over 6 feet range. It doesn’t need to be perfectly flat, just within that allowance.

To raise low spots, you can use the same type of concrete patch material listed above. It’s one of the only ways to spread an even layer of the shape you need. Use a wide putty knife to make the subfloor flat using patch mix. Do not use a self-leveling liquid patch on a wood subfloor because it can pour through any seams in the wood.

Preparing the Baseboards and Doors

When you install a hardwood floor, you will be adding thickness to the subfloor. Most hardwood planks are ¾-inch thick. Raising the floor by this much will require moving all of the trims and door jambs up so that the new wood floor can fit under them. Remove the trim pieces and replace them after the floor is completely installed.

Go around the room and pry all the baseboard trim off of the walls. You might want to write a word or two on the back of the trim so you can remember where it goes, especially if you have many pieces of baseboard. Remove the nails from the baseboards and the walls. You will use new nails to replace the trim later.

Cut under door jambs using a hand saw or an oscillating saw. Measure up from the subfloor and mark ¾-inch or whatever the thickness of your new hardwood so you can slide a piece of the flooring under the entire door jamb. Flooring installers have special saws to cut under jambs quickly, but you don’t need one for your DIY project. 

Before you cut the door jambs, you should remove the doors from their hinges. You might also need to cut some length off of the bottom of the door so it doesn’t drag on the new, higher floor.

Acclimating Hardwood Flooring

You can think of hardwood flooring as somewhat of a living material. It expands and contracts slightly when the temperature and humidity around it change.

This process of expansion and contraction can ruin a new floor if you do not allow enough time for the material to acclimate to the room before gluing it down.

You can check out our article on acclimating new hardwood flooring to ensure your material is ready to be installed.

The basics of accumulating new hardwood include:

  • Let the wood sit in the room where it will be installed for at least 72 hours (maybe longer)
  • Open up the packages so they can be exposed to air
  • Don’t acclimate wood to a room until windows and doors are installed and the paint is dry
  • Run heating and air systems like normal and keep the room temperature at a stable living temperature throughout the process

Choosing Which Direction to Lay the Hardwood Floor

To choose which way to lay your hardwood floor, you should think of both strength and visual appeal.

The most solid direction for your flooring is probably perpendicular to the floor joists beneath the subfloor. You may also consider the seams in the subflooring. You should lay the wood perpendicular to the longer seams so that you gradually bridge any unevenness. These two factors will help make a strong, flat floor for years to come. 

Visually, hardwood flooring looks best if it aligns with the straightest walls in the room. These are usually the exterior walls. You may want to align the flooring parallel to an exterior wall in the room.

If your subflooring is very strong and flat, you can choose to run your hardwood for visual appeal rather than across the floor joists or seams.

How to Install A Glue-Down Hardwood Floor

When installing any flooring product, make sure to read the installation instructions that the manufacturer provides. They will tell you the specifications for your exact hardwood product. Follow them closely to make sure you qualify for any warranty offers.

Make sure you understand and complete the above guidelines for preparing your room, acclimating the flooring, and choosing a direction to lay your hardwood floor.

Throughout all the steps, keep in mind that installing hardwood floors requires patience and planning ahead. Before laying a piece of wood floor, visualize how it will look in the room and next to the surrounding planks.

Also, remember when measuring that you will be using spacers to keep all flooring ½-inch away from all walls. You will also need to leave gaps of certain sizes for any transition pieces where your wood flooring meets another material.

Gather the following tools and materials before you begin and see the complete steps for gluing down your new hardwood floor:

Tools and Materials

  • Electric chop saw or miter saw
  • Electric table saw
  • Nail gun
  • Chalk line
  • Tape measure
  • ½-inch plastic spacers
  • 100-pound flooring roller
  • Flooring adhesive trowel (use the recommended tooth size for your flooring and adhesive)
  • Flooring adhesive (use the recommended type for your flooring product)
  • Clean, white rags
  • Mineral spirits or a urethane adhesive remover

Step 1: Measure the First and Last Rows

To improve the appearance of your finished floor, you should make sure that the first and last rows you install are the same width. After you determine the direction you are going to lay your hardwood floor, find out how many rows will fit in the room.

For example, if you are installing a hardwood product with 6-inch-wide planks, and the room is 10 feet and 2 inches, you have room for 20 whole rows and a 2-inch row.

Instead of having a tiny, 2-inch row at one side of the room, the floor will look better if you cut 2 inches off of the first row and the last row. This will leave you with shorter rows at each end so the two ends of the room look the same.

It’s also important to do this because no row should be smaller than 2 inches wide. If you don’t plan ahead, you may end up with a 1-inch row at the end of the room. Not only will this look bad, but it will also be too small to stick to the glue properly.

It is always better to split the remainder before you start laying the floor and cut the first and last rows in the room to the same width.

Note: Remember that you need to leave an expansion gap of ½ inch between the flooring and all walls, cabinets, and other obstacles. Subtract this gap from your measured end rows.

Step 2: Set Out Cartons of Wood Flooring

Arrange open cartons of planks around the room in short stacks. This will make them easy to reach as you lay the floor. It’s also very important that you pick pieces of wood from multiple cartons.

Wood flooring can vary in color between cartons. Some boxes may be all light wood, and some may be all dark wood. To ensure an even look in your finished room, put planks from a variety of cartons in each row as you install.

Step 3: Do Not Use Any Damaged or Defective Wood Pieces

As the flooring installer, you have a responsibility not to use any planks that you find are defective. As you take a piece of hardwood from the carton, inspect the tongue and groove to make sure they are cut properly and check all corners for chips. Any weird textures or problems with the finish can also be a bad sign.

Since wood is a natural product, it is normal for some pieces to be substandard. But if you find a large number of defective pieces, contact the manufacturer or salesman for a refund of the damaged materials.

If you fail to do this, you forfeit any right to replacement because installing the wood is considered accepting the quality. Do not glue down any piece that you find has problems.

Installing defective wood can also cause buckling or otherwise ruin your new floor. You might also void your warranty by using these pieces. Play it safe and set aside defective material.

Step 4: Set a Chalk Line For The First Row

The easiest way to begin laying your hardwood floor is to start two rows from the wall, lay rows all the way to the far wall, and come back at the end to lay in the first two rows.

To do this, you need to measure from the wall at each end of the room. Use a tape measure to mark the width of the first row (this should be the partial row that you already measured in step 1) plus another whole row.

Once you have a point on each end of the room for the width of the first two rows, snap a chalk line on the subfloor to connect the points.

You will use this chalk line to start laying flooring all the way to the far side of the room. When you are done, you can come back and lay the two rows that you measured in.

Step 5: Lay Out The First Three Rows

This step is about creating a strong and visually appealing base to begin your hardwood installation.

Pick pieces and lay them out next to each other along the chalk line. Do not worry about using any glue or connecting the tongues just yet.

Pay attention to the seams between boards. The seams in adjacent rows should never line up within 6 inches of each other. Overlapping the boards looks better and makes for a stronger floor.

Avoid creating a patterned appearance. A random scattering of seams will always look better than a pattern.

Remember, you cannot change the alignment of boards after you glue them down. Make sure to stand up and look at the arrangement for each row from a distance. If you notice any rows where seams line up too closely, choose a different board or alter the starting place for the row.

Once you have selected boards that look good together, click the tongues together and make sure they fit nicely along the chalk line. 

You will probably need to cut some end pieces to complete the rows. Measure and mark the length you need. Remember to always measure the finished surface of the board, excluding the tongue.

Always use spacers to leave a ½ inch expansion gap between the flooring and all walls, cabinets, and other obstacles. Subtract this length from any cuts you measure.

Step 6: Glue Down The First Three Rows

Once you have laid out your first three complete rows, you are ready to start gluing.

Gently separate the wood pieces you laid out for your first three rows. Lay them nearby so you can replace them after you spread the adhesive.

Use the recommended trowel to spread an even layer of hardwood floor adhesive on the subfloor, starting from the chalk line. Hold the trowel at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Apply firm pressure and use sweeping motions to make an even coat.

Do not spread adhesive on the whole floor. Just completely cover the area you need to glue the first three rows that you already laid out.

After you spread the glue, begin laying boards. Start from the side with a groove end and work toward the tongues. Lay the piece along the chalk line first, then work your way to the other end of the row.

You can work on two rows at a time. This will help create a more stable base as you lay the flooring.

Take the time to tilt each groove around the previous tongue and create a tight fit on every seam. You may need a tapping block to bump the tongues completely into their grooves (preferably a dense plastic block, but a piece of 2×4 and a hammer will do).

Some excess glue will usually squeeze up between the boards. Clean this up immediately with a clean rag and water. You may also use mineral spirits or a urethane adhesive remover on the rag if the adhesive package recommends it.

Step 7: Continue Laying Rows

As you move past the three starter rows, follow a similar pattern. You may wish to lay out whole rows at a time as you did before so you can be sure not to overlap seams within 6 inches of the previous row.

Remember to stagger the starting board length by cutting your first piece of flooring on each end of the row. You can often use the cutoff from your starter plank as an end piece on a later row. Try to do this whenever possible to avoid wasting material.

Spread only enough glue at one time as you can complete it within about 30 minutes. This is probably only 2-3 rows of glue, depending on how long your rows are.

Remember to always plan ahead, avoid a patterned appearance, and never install a defective plank. Also, remember to leave a ½-inch expansion gap between the flooring and the walls.

Step 8: Lay The First and Last Rows

When the majority of the room is finished, you are ready to cut in the last row and first row that you measured for in the beginning.

Use a table saw to rip boards down for width. Leave a ½ inch expansion gap around all obstacles. Slide the boards under any door jambs (which need to be undercut to the thickness of the flooring, if you didn’t do that earlier).

Step 9: Use a Flooring Roller

This step will probably require renting a specialized flooring roller, but it is critical to ensure your flooring bonds to the glue permanently.

Obtain a long-handled roller weighing at least 100 pounds. Local tool-rental companies or flooring installers can help you find one.

Place the roller at one end of the room and slowly roll it back and forth a few feet at a time. Stand to the side of the roller’s path so you don’t hit your feet.

Roll over the whole floor in all four directions.

This will ensure that every board is pressed firmly into the adhesive and create a strong bond.

Step 10: Install Quarter-Round and Transition Pieces

Once you lay all of the flooring, you will need to hide the ½-inch expansion gap around the room. This is what quarter-round and transition pieces are for.

If you have baseboard trim to replace, use a nailer to attach those first. Then you can use the nail gun to attach quarter-round to the walls.

Measure and cut each piece for length. Miter-cut corners at a 45-degree angle. Lay the pieces in to make sure they fit neatly, then nail them to the walls (never to the flooring).

Follow a similar process to measure, cut, and nail any transitions where your wood floor meets the carpet, tile, or other flooring types, or on stair noses. These transition pieces should be nailed to the subfloor.

If you need to remove glue-down wood hardwood floor, you are in for some hard work. Unfortunately, water damage to your wood floors or other situations might give you no choice but to rip out the old flooring.

Glue-down hardwood floors are one of the strongest, most durable floor coverings and are made to last for decades. That durability makes them extremely difficult to remove by yourself. While it’s hard work, it is not complicated — so if you are willing to get a few tools and put in the time you can save yourself the money that professionals would charge you.

You might rent a power scraper to make things faster, but you will have a lot of sticky work to do by hand. Follow this complete guide for tips and experience you need to remove glue-down wood floors as efficiently as possible.

remove glue down wood floor

Using a Power Scraper vs. Removing Wood By Hand

Most flooring professionals would use a power scraper to tear out glue-down wood flooring. This is a heavy machine with wheels and a blade on the front which can save you a lot of trouble removing the old wood.

These machines are available to rent from large tool-rental stores and some local flooring installers. If you have a way to transport it and are comfortable driving light power machinery, you may consider saving yourself hours of manual work by renting a power scraper.

It’s a good idea to consult with a flooring installer to see if a power scraper is a good fit for your space.

Removing Glue-Down Wood Flooring By Hand

The difficulty of this job will vary based on the type of glue used, how well the glue was applied to begin with, and how wide the hardwood planks are. If you are lucky enough to have small planks that were not installed by a professional, they might come up easily. Most floors installed by professionals, though, will take a lot of work to remove.

Removing glue-down hardwood is a job that requires a lot of patience. When you’re ready to get started, gather the following items and follow the steps below to make your removal work as painless as possible.

Tools and Materials

  • Circular saw with adjustable blade depth
  • Shop vacuum and sheets to protect the room from dust
  • Standard pry bar (large size)
  • Other prying tools or crowbars (optional)
  • Medium-weight hammer (such as a roofing hammer or small sledge)
  • Thick work gloves, knee pads, and safety glasses
  • 6-inch steel scraper or chipper
  • 6-inch razor flooring scraper with plenty of new razor blades
  • Wide painter’s tape if you are only removing a section of the room’s flooring

How to Prepare the Room for Flooring Removal

Tearing out your wood floor will require the use of power tools, hammering, and scraping up old glue. This process will make a huge mess, throwing sawdust, wood splinters, and sticky old glue everywhere.

Protect your home by laying sheets down on furniture or other items that are nearby. This will save you cleaning up a huge mess later and can protect sensitive items, like electronics, from damage.

When you use a power saw indoors, you may also want to use a shop vacuum to catch the sawdust immediately before it blows around the room. Just have someone follow your saw with the vacuum hose.

It’s also important that you wear proper safety equipment. Thick gloves and eye protection are absolutely necessary, and you should wear a good set of knee pads, too. You may need hearing protection when you use the circular saw and may prefer to wear a filtering mask or respirator to be safe. 

Once you and the room are prepared, you’re ready to get work removing the flooring.

Step 1: Pull Quarter-round and Baseboards

Most rooms have a baseboard nailed to the wall that runs around the perimeter of the room. Hardwood floors usually have an additional quarter-round trim. You should remove these trim pieces when you start a tear-out job.

If you plan to reuse them, you can remove the nails and keep the pieces (unless they have water damage or other problems). Mark the back of the trim so you know where they go. Otherwise, you can throw them away.

Step 2: Cut Wood Flooring with a Circular Saw

Because hardwood flooring planks lock together, it is hard to pry them apart unless you cut them first. You need to use a circular saw set to the depth of the flooring to cut the wood into smaller pieces.

Set the saw to cut at the exact depth of the hardwood flooring. If you are on a concrete subfloor, you may want to set the depth slightly more shallow so you don’t dull the saw blade on the concrete. Never set the saw deep enough to cut into the subfloor, even if it’s a wooden subfloor.

Engineered glue-down wood is extremely dense and strong. You can expect to wear out several saw blades while cutting the old flooring.

Make long, straight cuts perpendicular to the long edge of your floorboards. The recommended width to cut is every 2 feet. This will make sure you never have to pry up a piece wider than 2-feet, which will be many times easier than removing longer boards.

If you find that removing 2-foot-wide planks is still too difficult, you can go back and cut the rows even smaller.

Step 3: Pry To Remove Wood Planks

The procedure for prying up wood flooring is to stand facing the board and hook a long pry bar under one long edge of the plank. In your other hand, swing a medium-weight hammer parallel to the floor to force the pry bar under the wood.

If you can’t find an edge to make your first move, use the circular saw to split a board down the middle lengthwise. You should be able to pry up this smaller piece from the middle and work outward from there.

If you can’t get under the plank at all, try hammering the pry bar in at an angle so it starts on one sharp corner. You can also try a different location on the plank or a different shape of pry bar until you find a spot that works.

When you seat the pry bar firmly under the board, pry up on it.

If you are lucky, or if the floor was not glued down well, the pieces will pop up with minimal effort. If your floor is more secure, you might find that you have to splinter every piece as you pry up.

Discard flooring pieces in a large trash can one by one as you free them from the floor. Do not stack them on the floor where you can trip on them. It’s best to clean as you go because this is a messy job already.

If you absolutely cannot get the flooring pried up this way, you might have no choice but to call professionals or rent a flooring scraper. This is the best way to remove glued hardwood flooring.

Step 4: Scrape Small Leftover Pieces

Once you get all of the whole planks off the floor, you will probably be left with some splinters and broken corners still stuck to the glue. Be careful walking on the floor at this stage because sticky glue can trip you and there may be nails or other fasteners under the flooring.

Use a flat steel scraper to break any pieces of wood or fasteners off of the floor. Take wide, strong sweeps and always work away from your feet.

After you bust these smaller pieces off of the glue, you can sweep them up in a dustpan and throw them away.

Step 5: Scrape Remaining Glue

To prepare for any new flooring, you will need to finish by removing all of the old flooring adhesive that is stuck to the floor.

While you may be tempted to go straight for a chemical adhesive remover, this can produce dangerous fumes and it may be hard to find the right solvent for your type of glue.

It’s better to remove the glue manually if at all possible. The right tool for this job is a 6-inch razor flooring scraper. Even with a good scraper, you should only expect to clear a few inches of glue with each stroke. This can be the hardest step in the whole process.

Hold the scraper blade at a 45-degree angle and push hard to cut under the glue. If you’re on a wood subfloor, be careful not to cut into the subfloor when you scrape. Replace your blades often to keep them sharp.

Flooring glue is very strong stuff, so be patient while you scrape the remaining glue and always scrape safely away from yourself.

If you find it’s absolutely necessary to use a chemical glue remover, try different types by testing a small area first. Follow instructions carefully and always ventilate the room and wear a respirator to protect yourself from dangerous fumes.

How to Remove Only A Section of Wood Flooring

The steps above will tell you how to remove any amount of hardwood flooring. If you only want to remove part of the floor, such as to create a tile entry in a room with a wood floor, then do the following:

Use a tape measure and a large square to mark out the area you wish to tear out. Mark these measurements on the old flooring in pencil. Connect the measurements so you have a clear and complete outline of the area.

Use wide painter’s tape to outline the area you marked. This will create a protective layer for the flooring you are keeping so the saw does not scratch the wood.

Apply the tape to the outside of the lines (the area you are not tearing out). The tape should line up with your markings exactly. Lay several strips of tape outward to protect the floor. It should be as wide as the guard on your circular saw.

Set the cutting depth on your circular saw to as close to the thickness of the floor as possible. Tear-out will be easiest if you cut all the way through, but you don’t want to go too deep — especially if the flooring is over a concrete subfloor. Try to set the depth to the exact thickness of the hardwood.

Cut around the entire border that you marked out with tape. Work slowly as you approach the corners so you do not overcut and leave gaps in the flooring (if you do, you will have to fix them with color-matched wood putty).

This will give you a clean border to start your tear-out. Follow the rest of the steps above on the section of flooring that you are removing.

If you are shopping for a new hardwood floor for your home, you have probably noticed the options to either “float” or glue down your hardwood flooring.

But how can you tell which one is better for your space? It depends on several factors which we will cover in this guide.

Below you will find a few of the most important advantages and disadvantages for floating vs glue-down wood flooring. At the end of the article, you can find some of the parameters to help you decide which wood floor method is best for you so you can pick the right product.

Floating Wood Flooring

Traditional wood floors are fastened to the subfloor with nails or glue, but a floating wood floor is made up of planks that lock together like a big puzzle using a tongue-and-groove system.

The flooring “floats” because it isn’t attached to the subfloor, but rather uses its own weight and friction to stay in place.

Installing a floating floor consists of preparing the subfloor, laying down a paper-like moisture barrier layer, and locking together the flooring itself.

Since there are little or no fasteners involved, installation is faster and requires a little less technical skill. So floating hardwood flooring lends itself somewhat to DIY or cheaper professional installation.

Advantages of Floating Wood Floors

  • Easy to Install – The click-together system makes installing a floating floor quicker and much easier than a glue-down floor. You won’t have to worry about selecting and applying glue or other fasteners, which can be difficult, especially if you want to DIY the floor. Even if your floating flooring requires a little glue on the tongue of each plank, this is faster and easier than gluing the floor down.
  • Durable – Hardwood flooring that is designed to float in the room is almost always an engineered material. This means it’s made up of several layers of compressed wood that provide upgraded strength over natural hardwood, especially on the finish.
  • Good for Varied Environments – A floating floor leaves a small gap around the edges of the room (which is hidden below the trim). This gap allows the flooring to expand and contract with changing humidity and temperature without causing any problems. If you know you have wide-ranging conditions in your home, floating is a good option.
  • Easy to Remove – If you remodel often or are putting flooring in a rental where you think there may be frequent damage, a floating floor can be nice because you can remove a few planks for repairs or remove the entire floor pretty easily. It’s just a matter of unhooking the locking tongues of the boards.

Disadvantages of Floating Wood Floors

  • Not as Solid as Glue-Down – There is usually a chance for a slightly soft or hollow feel when you walk on a floating wood floor. This happens because the wide puzzle of interlocked boards can flex slightly underfoot. This is mostly a matter of preference. You might notice light pieces of furniture shift slightly over time, especially if you have kids or dogs running around them every day.
  • Not as Stable Under Appliances – Because the floating floor uses its own weight and friction to stay in place, it can cause problems in rooms with heavy appliances (kitchens and laundry rooms). Pushing appliances around could shift the flooring, and the extreme weight could break the locking tongues apart at the edges.
  • Needs a Flat Subfloor – If you are putting hardwood flooring in a room with a slope or where the floor is uneven within the room, you might not be able to float the floor. The floating system relies on a flat surface so the flooring doesn’t slide around. Concrete subfloors that are sloped like a ramp or wooden subfloors that have significant high or low spots will cause a problem.

Glue-Down Wood Flooring

A glue-down floor is actually attached to the subfloor. You can think of it as a more permanent option than a floating floor.

These boards will usually still use a tongue-and-groove system, but the boards won’t actually lock together. This system is just to aid in installation and make the floor more stable.

You might spend a little more money on adhesive for this style of hardwood floor than you would spend on the vapor-barrier paper under a floating floor. Installing a glue-down floor definitely requires more technical skill and more time than an equivalent floating floor.

If you want the ultimate stability and strength from your hardwood flooring, a glue-down model is good for you.

Advantages of Glue-Down Wood Floors

  • Solid Feeling Underfoot – If you’re concerned about the possibility of a hollow or squishy feeling of a floating hardwood floor, you will probably prefer glued flooring. There will be no room for vibration or shifting between the flooring and the subfloor. Every step will feel solid.
  • Good for Uneven or Sloped Rooms – If your home has a hallway that slopes up from one level to another, or if you have a wooden subfloor that has some high or low spots, you need a flooring that will secure directly to the concrete or wood below. This will ensure that the wood does not shift around the room at all.
  • Stays In Place – Glue-Down hardwood floors are a good choice for laundry rooms, kitchens, or other rooms where you will be storing heavy objects like appliances. Since every plank is fastened to the subfloor, no amount of weight on top will shift or damage the hardwood.

Disadvantages of Glue-Down Wood Floors

  • Difficult to Remove – Because every plank will be glued to the floor with a strong flooring adhesive, removing a glue-down wood floor is difficult. After prying and popping up the boards, you will have to spend hours removing the residue from the subfloor. Do not lay a glue-down hardwood floor that you ever plan to remove.
  • Bad for Variable Climates – A hardwood floor that’s fastened with glue will have very limited room to expand and contract when the temperature or humidity vary. Although the glue acts like a moisture barrier to limit these factors, you need to bear in mind that if your house has an extremely unreliable climate, a glue-down floor might not adjust as easily as a floating floor.
  • More Difficult to Install – Glue-down floors require an even coat of the right type of flooring adhesive. It takes some skill to apply it properly, and if you make a mistake it is not a very forgiving process. You should probably not attempt a glue-down wood floor DIY project unless you have some experience with troweled adhesives and flooring.

Should I Float or Glue a Wood Floor?

If you are trying to decide which method to choose for your new hardwood floor, you may find the following parameters helpful. They show the advantages and disadvantages from above in action to help you decide which type of flooring is best for your home.

How Level is the Subfloor?

If you have a concrete subfloor that is uneven or sloped, you likely need to install glue-down flooring so that the wood does not slide around or flex under foot. If you have an uneven subfloor that is made of wood, you can install a floating floor only if you first lay down a layer of thin plywood underlayment to correct the subfloor. This can be an expensive extra step.

Are Variable Temperatures and Humidity a Problem?

Floating hardwood floors can expand and contract as one big piece of wood, and the small gap you leave around the walls when you install them will give the flooring somewhere to go when it expands. Glue-down floors, on the other hand, can only handle very slight variations in climate that will cause the wood to expand or contract.

If you know your house has frequent (major) swings in humidity or temperature, choose a floating floor to accommodate this.

Do You Want to DIY?

Floating flooring is quite a bit simpler to install yourself, even if you don’t have flooring experience. You need fewer tools and technical skills than you do to install a glue-down floor.

Which Floor is the Cheapest?

It can be hard to say which option is cheaper. If the conditions are just right for a floating floor (flat and even subfloor), you will probably save money on labor hours and materials since you don’t need to buy glue. However, if your room is going to require a layer of leveling underlayment plywood, the cost of a floating floor may exceed the glue-down option.