Hardwood Flooring Installation Methods: Fasten vs. Glue-Down vs. Floating

Many people spend a great deal of time selecting the right hardwood flooring product. However, it is also important to carefully consider the installation process. There are three common installation methods from which to choose: fasten, glue-down, and floating. Here we will look at the benefits and drawbacks of each method, which will help you choose the best strategy for your circumstances.


Fastening (also called nail-down) is the most common method used to install hardwood floors. The process involves using nails or staples to fasten the hardwood to the subfloor. This type installation works for both solid and engineered hardwood flooring products. When fastening down a hardwood floor, the spacing of the fasteners is important. Too few can cause cracks or squeaks, while too many can lead to splitting in the tongue. We recommend hiring a professional who can guarantee a beautiful and efficient installation.



When using the glue-down method, the hardwood is adhered to the subfloor, or to a moisture barrier installed directly on the subfloor, using a strong adhesive. While some exceptions may exist, we recommend gluing only engineered hardwood products. The subfloor must be completely dry and flat to ensure proper installation. There are several different types of adhesives on the market. A professional installer will use the type of adhesive that is specifically recommended for your hardwood flooring product.


With this technique, the hardwood is not fastened or glued down. The planks are fastened together and they float above the subfloor. Usually a pad is placed between the hardwood and the subfloor to reduce noise and protect against moisture. This type of installation is only recommended for engineered hardwood products. The installation process is very quick, and it can be done over almost any type of subfloor. It is a great option when installing over existing flooring material.

Choosing the Right Method

Each installation method offers its own benefits. Two key considerations are the type of subfloor and whether it will be installed above or below grade. Solid hardwood floors are typically nailed down to a wooden subfloor on or above grade. Engineered hardwood products may be fastened, stapled, or glued on, above, or below grade. The glue-down method is commonly used in slab construction, because it allows the flooring to be attached directly to a concrete slab. These days, many engineered hardwood products can also be floated. This method is commonly used on, above, or below grade over subfloors such as vinyl, ceramic, or tile.

Horizon Forest Products offers a wide range of installation products to help you with your hardwood flooring installation needs. Contact us to get started today!

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