Which Method Should I Use to Install My Engineered Wood Floor?

Engineered wood flooring can be installed by a few different methods. Of course, each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. These pros and cons should be considered when deciding which floor is best for your home and what will be the best long-term outcome for your home.

Most engineered wood floors are milled with tongue and groove (T&G) construction. This allows the planks to fit together sort of like puzzle pieces, with each row held down by the row next to it. This helps to prevent movement of the wood and keeps each of the planks flat with their neighbor. Tongue and groove milling is highly versatile, allowing the floors to be stapled or nailed down, glued, and sometimes floated.

Tongue and groove flooring

Staple/Nail Down

If possible, this is the ideal installation method. You must have a wood or plywood subfloor in order to staple or nail onto. Concrete or other hardboard type subfloor materials will not hold staples or nails. Staple/Nail down installation provides the best finished look as well, because the boards are “racked” together tight when hit with the nailer. Getting the boards as tight to each other as possible gives the best final look.

In some regions (either very humid or very dry), it may be best to glue and nail to the subfloor to limit movement of wide plank products.

Pros: Speedy installation, boards rack tight together and large areas can be installed without transition pieces.

Cons: Boards may still move with changes in temperature and humidity, and wide planks may still need to be glued.

Additional Materials Needed/recommended: We recommend Aquabar B underlayment. It provides a vapor barrier as well as a friction reducing surface for boards to rack tightly.

If you would like to add a sound deadening underlayment that can be nailed through, we offer a green sound deadening underlayment.

Glue Down

If your room(s) have a concrete subfloor, gluing the floor down will be your best option. This will allow a large continuous installation with few transition pieces. In very dry or humid regions, gluing the floor down will limit expansion and contraction of the floor.

Many homeowners are concerned that adhesives have odor and off-gassing issues. Many years ago, this was the case, but now modern adhesives are almost all Low VOC or No VOC with very little lingering odor.

There are also some concerns about ease and speed of installation. A glue down installation requires more skill and experience than nail down. However, like many things; the right way isn’t always the easiest way.

Products like Bostik Greenforce  and Stauf SMP-960 are cutting edge, safe adhesives. Both feature moisture blocking properties, which eliminate the need for an additional vapor barrier if used properly.

If you need a powerful adhesive and sound deadening capabilities take a look at Bostik Singlestep2.

Pros: Minimizes squeaks, best installation method over concrete, large areas can be installed without transition pieces and modern adhesives can also act as a moisture barrier.

Cons: Professional installation recommended, can be messy for inexperienced installers and adhesive can be expensive.

Floating

Many tongue and groove floors can be floated over premium underlayment with good success. This is done by gluing the tongues and grooves together with a T&G adhesive. Unlike click-lock floating floors, T&G floors are not designed to be floated. It can be done, but it should be the exception not the rule. Here are a few things to consider before choosing to float your hardwood floor:

  • Hardwood floors MOVE. Wood floors naturally expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity. They will likely swell in the summer and shrink in the winter. When a floor is floated it moves as one unit and will expand and contract as one unit. Because of this, the floor cannot be pinned down by cabinetry or other built-ins. Even heavy islands or furniture can prevent proper floor movement.
    • Floating installation should be limited to no more than a 20’ x 30’ area, without transitions. Floating installation will require t-moldings at all doorways.
  • Floating installation is not “easier”. Just because it isn’t fastened or adhered to the subfloor does not mean that the installation will take less time or require less effort. Oftentimes floating installation is actually more difficult.
  • Thinner and narrower plank floors will not float very well. It is recommended you avoid floating products from our Coastal Inlet Collection, Great Northern Woods Collection and Great Southern Woods Collection.

Pros: Will allow you to install over existing floors without tear out (like tile or older hardwood) and allows you to transition from wood to concrete.

Cons: Transitions are required more frequently and you are much more likely to have issues down the road due to movement in the floor.

Additional Materials Needed/recommended: Tesoro-Woods’ green sound deadening underlayment.

If you prefer to have a floating floor, please check out our Super-Strand Bamboo Collection and Longevity Collection, which are designed to be floated.

As always, please consult our full installation instruction document before installing our flooring and seek out the services of an experienced flooring installer for whatever method of installation you decide.

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