Hardwood Floor Installation & Refinishing

Glue-Down Hardwood Floor: Know Some Crucial Things About It

Home is all about an overall peaceful atmosphere. The placement of ambient lighting, minimalist yet classy interior, and vibrant color pallet altogether create a space that makes you feel happy, relaxed, and at ease. Among all, flooring plays a vital role in creating an overall charming appeal. You can pick hardwood floors as they are known for their durability and longevity, timeless beauty, and can increase the value of your property. For its installation over subfloors, there are several methods used, like nail-down, staple-down, glue-down, and floating.

In the nail-down method, hardwood flooring planks are attached to the subfloor using nails or cleats. This method is typically used for solid hardwood floors. The nails or cleats are driven at an angle through the tongue of each plank into the subfloor. In comparison, the staple-down method involves using a pneumatic stapler to fasten the flooring planks to the subfloor. The floating method involves floor installation over an underlayment rather than attaching it to the subfloor. The planks are bound together via a click-lock mechanism or tongue-and-groove system. And last but not least, in the glue-down method, the flooring planks adhere directly to the subfloor using a recommended adhesive. This method is suitable for both solid hardwood and engineered wood floors. The adhesive creates a strong bond between the planks and the subfloor. In this article, we will discuss everything related to the glue-down method.

Glue-down Method: A Brief Introduction

The glue-down hardwood floor method is a technique used to install hardwood planks – they adhere directly to the subfloor using a specialized flooring adhesive. Here’s a step-by-step overview of the glue-down hardwood floor installation process:

  • Subfloor preparation: The subfloor should be clean, dry, and level. Any existing flooring or debris should be removed, and any necessary repairs or leveling should be done because a proper subfloor is vital to ensure the longevity of the floors.


  • Acclimate the hardwood: Hardwood flooring needs to acclimate to the environment where it will be installed. The planks should be unpacked and allowed to sit in the installation area for a specified period, usually around 48 hours, to adjust to the temperature and humidity conditions.


  • Moisture barrier: A moisture barrier, such as a vapor retarder, may be required to prevent moisture from seeping into the hardwood. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine if a moisture barrier is needed and, if so, how to install it.


  • Flooring adhesive application: Apply a recommended hardwood flooring adhesive to the subfloor using a trowel or a specialized adhesive applicator. The adhesive should be spread evenly and consistently across the subfloor.


  • Plank installation: Start installing the hardwood planks along a straight reference line, such as a wall. Apply pressure to each plank as you lay it down to ensure good adhesion. Use spacers between the planks and the wall to allow for expansion. Repeat this process, working row by row until the entire floor is covered.


  • Trim and cut: Cut the planks as needed to fit around obstacles, doorways, or the room’s edges. A miter saw or a circular saw can be used for these cuts.


  • Allow for curing: After installation, allow the adhesive to fix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This typically involves avoiding foot traffic for a specified period and allowing the adhesive to dry and bond properly.


  • Finishing touches: Once the adhesive has cured, remove the spacers and install the baseboards or molding to cover the expansion gap at the edges of the room. Finish the hardwood floor according to your desired method, such as sanding, staining, and applying a protective finish.


It’s important to note that the glue-down method is not suitable for all types of hardwood flooring or subfloors. Some engineered hardwood floors are specifically designed for this installation method, while solid hardwood may require other techniques like nail-down or floating installation. Always consult the manufacturer and follow the recommended installation procedures for your specific hardwood flooring product.


Encountering Glue Down Hardwood Floor Issues?


Undoubtedly, a hardwood floor is a long-term investment, and glue down method helps to keep planks in place. Over time, if you’re experiencing glue-down hardwood floor problems, there are several potential causes and solutions you can explore. Here are some common problems and their respective remedies:


  • Buckling or warping: Buckling or warping can occur if the hardwood floor was not acclimated properly before installation or if the moisture content of the subfloor was too high. Other things that cause the wood floors to buckle include not enough adhesive, uneven application of glue, and extreme dirt particles beneath wood planks. To fix this, you may need to remove the affected boards, address the moisture issue, and reinstall the floor using the correct acclimation procedures and sufficient glue. For this, you need to hire the best installer to get the job done right the first time.


  • Gaps between boards: Gaps between hardwood boards can be a result of improper installation, changes in humidity levels, or drying of the wood. You can try filling small gaps with wood putty or filler, but larger gaps may require professional intervention to assess the underlying cause and implement suitable remedies.


  • Loose or squeaky boards: If you notice individual boards that are loose or squeaky, it may be due to insufficient adhesive coverage during installation or issues with the subfloor. Reapplying adhesive to secure loose boards or addressing subfloor problems can help resolve this issue.


  • Adhesive failure: In some cases, the adhesive used during installation may fail, leading to separation between the hardwood and the subfloor. This can happen due to substandard adhesive quality, improper application, or inadequate curing time. If adhesive failure is the issue, you may need to remove the affected boards, clean off the old adhesive, and reinstall them using a high-quality adhesive recommended by the manufacturer.


  • Moisture-related issues: Moisture problems can cause various issues with hardwood floors, such as cupping, swelling, or mold growth. Ensure the subfloor is dry and within the acceptable moisture range before installing hardwood. If moisture-related problems persist, you might need to investigate and address potential sources of moisture, such as leaks or excessive humidity levels.


If you’re undergoing significant problems with your glue-down hardwood floor, it’s recommended to consult with a professional flooring contractor or installer. They can assess the specific problems, provide expert advice, and propose appropriate solutions tailored to your situation.


Glue Down or Floating Wood Planks: Which Method is Better for Your House?


Well, there is no specific answer to this question, as the choice between glue-down or floating wood planks for your house depends on several factors, such as the type of subfloor in your contemporary abode, personal preference, ease of replacement, and the specific requirements of your project. Here’s an overview of both methods to aid you in making an informed decision:


Glue Down Method:

  • In the glue-down method, the wood planks directly adhere to the subfloor using a strong adhesive. This method provides a more permanent and stable installation. The planks are securely bonded to the subfloor, resulting in reduced movement and a solid feel underfoot.
  • Glue-down installation is typically recommended for concrete or plywood subfloors.
  • It can be suitable for high-traffic areas or environments with moisture concerns since the adhesive helps create a strong and durable bond.
  • However, the installation process can be more time-consuming and labor-intensive. It may also involve the use of potentially strong-smelling adhesives.
  • This method is slightly more cost-effective than the floating method.


Floating Method:

  • In the floating method, the wood planks are not directly attached to the subfloor but instead interlock with each other using a tongue-and-groove system.
  • The planks “float” above the subfloor, allowing for some flexibility and movement.
  • This method often involves an underlayment, which provides cushioning, sound insulation, and moisture protection.
  • Floating installations are generally easier and quicker to install since there is no need for adhesives or extensive subfloor preparation.
  • It can be suitable for various subfloor types, including concrete, plywood, and existing flooring, as long as the surface is clean, dry, and level.


Ultimately, the right method for your house depends on your specific circumstances, preferences, and subfloor condition. It’s recommended to consult with flooring professionals or contractors who can assess your situation and provide tailored recommendations based on your needs.


How thick is glue-down hardwood flooring?

It is crucial to note that the thickness of glue-down wood flooring can vary, considering the specific product and manufacturer. But, a common range for the thickness of glue-down wood flooring is between 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) and 5/8 inch (15.9 mm). One should know that the flooring’s thickness can affect its durability and longevity, as well as its compatibility with the subfloor and overall installation process. Therefore, it’s recommended to consult the manufacturer and discuss the installation guidelines for the specific product you’re interested in to determine its exact thickness.

What is the price for glue-down flooring?


The price for glue-down wood flooring can vary depending on numerous factors, like the type and quality of the wood, the brand, the region you’re in, and any additional installation costs. Generally, glue-down wood flooring can range from $3 to $10 per square foot. However, premium or exotic wood species can be more expensive, and installation costs may vary depending on the complexity of the project and the rates of the professionals you hire. It’s always recommended to get multiple quotes from different installation professionals to get a better idea of the specific pricing in your area.


Can you glue hardwood planks on concrete?


Yes, it is possible to glue hardwood planks, be they engineered or solid, directly onto concrete surfaces. However, there are a few important considerations and steps to follow to ensure a successful installation:


  • Moisture testing: Concrete tends to retain moisture, so it’s crucial to test the moisture content of the concrete slab before proceeding. Excessive moisture can cause the wood to warp, buckle, or develop mold and mildew. Use a moisture meter to check the moisture levels and make sure they are within the acceptable range for the hardwood you’re using.
  • Concrete preparation: The concrete surface needs to be clean, dry, and free of any debris, dust, or paint. Use a concrete grinder or sander to smooth out any rough areas or imperfections on the surface. If there are any existing coatings or sealants on the concrete, they should be removed or properly prepped before proceeding.
  • Moisture barrier: To further protect the hardwood from moisture, it’s recommended to install a moisture barrier or vapor retarder over the concrete. This can be a layer of plastic sheeting or an appropriate moisture barrier product specifically designed for this purpose. The moisture barrier helps prevent moisture from seeping through the concrete and reaching the hardwood.


In addition, it is vital to pick a high-quality adhesive that is specifically designed for bonding wood to concrete and use the right application technique. It’s worth noting that gluing hardwood planks directly to concrete is a permanent installation. If you prefer a non-permanent option or want to avoid adhesives, you could explore alternative methods such as floating floor installations or using an underlayment system specifically designed for hardwood flooring over concrete.


Does wood glue hold up in the rain, or is it waterproof?


While some types of glue-down wood floors may have moisture-resistant properties to some extent, they are not designed to be fully waterproof. Exposing glue-down wood flooring to rain or excessive moisture can lead to damage, warping, or delamination of the floorboards.


If you are installing wood flooring in an area prone to moisture, such as a bathroom, kitchen, or basement, it is generally recommended to choose a flooring material specifically designed for wet areas. You can consult an expert for help and ask them about the right material to be installed in the particular area of your home.


Hire Big Bro Hardwood for all your work related to hardwood floors


The wood floor installation requires great experience; our experts at Big Bro Hardwood have honed their skills over the years and delivered services that have delighted clients. Whether you need assistance related to installation, replacement, repair, or sanding, we can bestow the best flooring solutions to transform your home into an elegant place. In fact, our professionals can advise you on the best techniques and materials and help you make an informed decision. Call (630) 418 4139 to make an appointment and discuss any query you may have.