Different installation methods for wood flooring include Nail Down, Staple Down, Glue Down, and Free-Float. One problem when deciding to purchase a wood floor, is “which installation method will be right for me?” With several different methods to choose from, it can be confusing to say the least. We’re going to discuss this subject in detail and hopefully it will help you with your decision.
The first thing you need to do, would be to find out what type of sub-floor you currently have. I am not talking about the existing carpet, vinyl, or ceramic tile you may have on the floor, I am referring to the actual base floor itself, which in most cases would be plywood or concrete. By determining what type of sub-floor you have, you will automatically narrow down your options. If you have a plywood sub-floor, you can choose any of the installation methods. If you have a concrete sub-floor, you will not be able to use the nail or staple down method without going through what we would consider to be a ridiculous amount of preparation.
Let’s take a look at each of the installation methods individually, where they would apply, and where they may be most beneficial.
Nail Down Instructions
This type of method is used primarily when installing a solid wood floor. Since solid wood floors are usually thicker, they need to be nailed in order to stay in place properly. As we discussed in our article titled Solid or Engineered Flooring, which is right for me, solid wood flooring has a tendency to expand and contract more than engineered flooring. With that in mind, using a glue down method would prove to be a huge mistake with a solid floor. There are some exceptions to this rule. One such exception would be the Natural Reflections series by Bruce. While most solid wood floors are 3/4″ thick, this product comes 5/16″ thick. Since the product is much thinner than a conventional solid wood floor, you experience less expansion and contraction. This product can be stapled or glued down.
Nowadays, most consumers are getting away from the solid wood flooring in favor of the engineered products because of their superior stability. There are some situations however, where the solid wood flooring might be beneficial. One such application might be if you have existing solid wood floors in certain areas of your home, and you want to extend that flooring into other areas. As we mentioned previously, if you would like to learn more about solid wood floors versus engineered, read our article titled Solid or Engineered Flooring, which is right for me.
Nail down installations are not generally recommended as a Do-It-Yourself project. This type of installation requires certain professional tools and experience.