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Glue Down vs Floating Timber Flooring Installation

Engineered timber floor being glued to concrete subfloor

A common question we come across with many of our clients is whether to do a glue down installation or a floating timber floor installation. We aim to deliver the best option for the client, their needs, and their space, we take this all into consideration when suggesting which install method and product we put forward. Installation methods highly depends on the circumstance, the conditions of the subfloor, the budget constraints, and the product selection; whether it is an engineered tongue and groove profile or an engineered with a click lock system.

A floating floor is an installation method that is achieved by a click lock system e.g., Uniclic, Unifit X or Valinge 5G, where the proprietary tongue and grove profile allow the planks to seamlessly click together with a very tight join. Our engineered timber flooring products that can be floated have a licenced mechanism called the Uniclic system for Parky Pro, Unifit X for Parky Summit Plank and 5G for PurePlank, the pressure created by the click lock systems, means that the timber floor is held in position by the weight of the floor itself, therefore not needing to be glued down. Approximately 15mm expansion gaps around the perimeter of the room allow for expansion and contraction of the whole floor area. It is rare, but sometimes tongue and groove profiles are installed as floating buy gluing the tongues. This is not an install method we recommend for New Zealand’s environmental conditions.

A glue down floor installation is when the engineered timber flooring is fixed down directly to the subfloor using an adhesive. An even layer of bonding agent is applied to the floor substrate and/or the back of the plank, and a tongue and groove system is used, which makes for an easier installation and secure joins.

Pros to a glue down timber floor:

  • You can re-sand your timber floor
  • Great acoustic performance, reducing the footfall sound
  • Solid foot feel
  • Can deal with minor subfloor unevenness better than a floating floor
  • Smaller trims can be used which is visually more pleasing
  • Doesn’t require trims at floor level window or door joinery
  • Best for underfloor heating as it ensures better heat transfer
  • Kitchen cabinetry can be installed over glue down timber flooring
  • Adds more value to property
  • Changes in temperature and humidity doesn’t affect the timber flooring as much as a floating floor as its fixed to the subfloor which limits the amount of movement.
  • Best method for parquetry wood flooring

Cons to a glue down timber floor:

  • Higher cost than a floating installation
  • Longer installation time

Pros to a floating timber floor:

  • Quickest & cost-effective installation
  • Can be done as a DIY installation
  • Easily replaced
  • A good quality underlay can prevent sound from traveling to rooms underneath

Cons to a floating timber floor:

  • Cannot be re-sanded easily, creates uneven surface and sanding marks which makes the floor look damaged
  • Cannot install under kitchen cupboards
  • More likely to move and result in creaking noises in high foot traffic homes
  • If the underlay is of poor quality, it will not address the drum like sound of floating floors
  • As a floating floor is not fixed to the subfloor, when the wood acclimatises/breathes, it moves which can lead to creaking noises, particularly in the evening when the sun goes down.
  • Requires larger trims between other floor coverings to hold the floor down and allow for expansion
  • Window & door joinery at floor level will require aluminium trims to hold the floor down in the area
  • If the flooring is of poor quality this can lead to squeaking and lifting in areas of the floor, this is most likely to happen if the click mechanism is not licensed. We recommend ensuring you are using proper proprietary licenced profiles such as Uniclic or Unifit X etc
  • If the subfloor is not level this will affect the quality of the flooring and the amount of noise from drumming sound or creaking

Our Parky and PurePlank engineered timber flooring ranges both have click lock mechanisms for the most stable and efficient floating floors. If you love the product and colour of these ranges but still wish to go with a glue down method, this can be achieved the same way we would any other glue down flooring. Due to the benefits of glue down versus floating we would still recommend gluing these down as the best option. All our other engineered wood flooring ranges are tongue and groove profile so are a glue down only install.

All in all, if you can afford the cost of glue down installation in your home, it is highly recommended that this is the method to go for. The investment now will be worth it years down the track. If money, or circumstance leads you to needing a floating installation method, make sure you are using a licensed mechanism and a trusted installer to have the best job done. At VidaSpace we will always listen to what you want and need and give you specialist advice accordingly, so that together we can achieve the best outcome for you and your project.

Speak to one of our timber flooring specialists to find out the best product and install method for you.

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