Which Flooring Installation Method is Best for my Flooring Project?

   While finding the floor that fits perfectly with the personality of your home, aside from style, color and design, one of the things that will first be considered is how and where the floor should be installed. There are a few installation methods available, but depending on the type and conditions of your sub-floor and the floor you choose, may not all be an option for you. With this article we hope to help alleviate some of the confusion and stress created from not knowing which floor and installation method is right for your project. To start, we’ll explain the different installation methods and give an overview of their level of difficulty and skill required.

Glueless Click Lock Floating

First on the list is the glueless click lock floating installation method. We will start with this installation method, because it’s a very common installation method among do it your-selfers. This installation method requires less technical skill than the other methods, but knowing how to use a tape measure and a saw is a must. However, many of the products installing with this method are thin enough to make cuts using a hand held saw, so the purchase of an expensive table or miter saws is not required but using these power tools does typically make the installation go faster and give cleaner cuts. This installation method is most common with products using a High Density Fiber Board core (HDF). This includes all Laminate floors, and is common use in Cork floors. It is also used in some Hardwood products, as an example Simple Floors Premium Green Strand Woven Wire Brushed line uses an HDF core. The extremely dense and durable HDF core used in these products allows for the click together tongue and grove locking system to be milled into the sides and ends of each floor plank. The floor planks can then be interlocked together by hand and without the need for special hammers, nails, or adhesives. Once the floors are interlocked they become a near seamless looking, highly durable floor. Instead of nails or adhesives, these floors stay in place because of their weight and special sound absorbing underlay laid under the floor. Please read our Underlayment Article to learn more about the types of underlay used under floating floors. Of the available installation methods, click lock floating installation method is the most versatile. Floated floors can be installed over any smooth stable surface, which makes it idea for going over existing floors, such as worn vinyl, tile, or hardwood.

Glue Together Floating

The next installation method we’ll cover is the glue together floating method. This installation method does require a bit more skill to tackle, but is still a favorite for many do-it-yourselfers. The installation method is similar to the click lock floating method, but instead of the floor plank being held in place using a tongue and grove locking system, these products use a specially applied tongue and groove adhesive. This adhesive is applied to the top of the floor plank’s side tongue using a squeeze bottle with an applicator tip designed to concentrate the adhesive to a small application area. When installing using the glue together floating installation its wise to have some blue painters tape handy to tape the freshly glued floor planks together across the seams. This helps eliminate the planks for shifting and separating while working across the room, which will keep the seams tight and eliminate gapping. The tape should be removed after completing the installation, so the tape will easily removed from the floor. It’s also good to keep a damp cloth handy to remove any excess adhesive that squeezes up through the seams when putting the floor planks together. Like the click lock floating floors, the glue together floating floors are also installed over a special sound absorbing underlay. However, unlike the click together floors, you will need to wait at least 12 hours before moving the furniture back into the room. You will find all of the engineered hardwood floors and solid strand woven bamboo floors on our Simple Floors website can be installed using the glue together floating installation method. Also, just like the click lock floating method, products installed using this installation method can be installed over any smooth stable surface.

The next installation methods we’ll go over are best done by professionals, or a very experienced do-it-yourselfer.

Glue Down

Of these next installation methods, the one that is potentially the messiest is the full spread glue down installation method. This installation method requires the use of a full spread adhesive. This product is applied out of a bucket using a hand trowel in the size required for the sub-floor type being installed over. Full spread adhesives come in a variety of different brands and chemical makeups, and it is very important to choose the right adhesive for the job. Simple Floors recommends and only warranties our floors when our Complete 3n1 or Bostik’s Best adhesives are used. The size of the trowel and the amount of adhesive required for the installation will depend on the sub-floor you are installing over. Wood sub-floors typically require less adhesive because the possibility of high moisture or reactive chemicals on their surface is less than installing over a concrete sub-floor. However, both sub-floor types should be thoroughly and properly tested before beginning your installation. When installing a direct glue down floor, it’s a good idea to mark a chalk line just off the starting wall to ensure your starting row will be straight. It’s also a good idea to do a dry fit of your first three rows before applying any adhesive. This will help identify if adjustments need to be made before spreading adhesive. It is helpful when laying these first three rows to let the adhesive set up a short amount of time, so you have a good stable base to work across the room off of. Doing this dry run, will help reduce the boards’ likeliness to shift as you work across the room and cause unwanted gaps at the seams. It’s also a good idea, like with the glue together tongue and groove installation, to have some painters tape around to put across the floor planks side seams to help hold them in place.

Nail or Staple Down

The final installation method we will cover is the Nail/Staple down installation. Of the installation methods this is the one installation method which requires special tools which a typical homeowner doesn’t usually own. The tools required are an air compressor and a floor nailer or stapler. In addition there are several different nail and staple gauges required depending on the construction and thickness of the floor. A 3/4” solid floor will require a 15 gauge cleated nail, while an engineered 3/4” floor typically uses an 18 gauge cleated nail or staple. The length of the nail or staple used does also change as the thickness of the product changes. Similar to the floating installations, when installing using the nail or staple down method, you do need to install an underlay under the floor planks. But the underlay used under these floors is much thinner and is meant mainly to act as a vapor barrier for floors installed over crawl spaces. The underlay does also help to eliminate squeaks and creaks which can happen over time. Also as with the glue down installation it is a good idea to check the straightness of the starting wall with a chalk line and assemble the first three rows before putting in the first nail or staple. The nail down installation is the only method of installation which does have special sub-floor requirements. This requirement being a floor being nailed down requires a stable wood sub-floor, of which ¾” plywood is preferred.

Here is a quick list to help simplify the process of flooring construction types versus installation methods for products sold by Simple Floors;

Laminate and Cork Flooring

Installation Method : Glueless Click Lock Float

Experience Level : Beginner to Intermediate do-it-yourselfers

Engineered Hardwood Flooring – Smooth and Hand Scraped

Installation Method : Nail Down, Staple Down, Glue Down or Tongue and Grove Glue Together Float

Experience Level : Skilled do-it-yourselfer to Professional Flooring Installer

Strand Woven Bamboo and Eucalyptus Flooring

Installation Method : Nail Down, Staple Down, Glue Down or Tongue and Grove Glue Together Float  Experience Level : Skilled do it yourselfer to Professional Flooring Installer

Solid Hardwood Flooring – Smooth and Hand Scraped

Installation Method : Nail Down

Experience Level : Experienced do it yourselfer to Professional Flooring Installer


This article is intended to be informational only and is not intended to be a used as an installation guide for any products sold by Simple Floors. For complete installation information please refer to the installation guides for each product. 


Laminate Flooring


Cork Flooring


Engineered Hardwood Flooring


Stand Woven Flooring


Solid Hardwood Flooring