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Floor Installation Method (Hardwood & Bamboo Flooring)

  1. Installation Methods
  2. Subfloors
  3. Flooring Grades
Installation Methods
Floating Installation

Floating Installation

Floating floors can be installed over any type of subfloor because there is no need to directly attach the floor to the floor below. A protective pad is placed between the hardwood floor and the subfloor which protects the hardwood against moisture and reduces the transmission of sound as you walk along the floor. The floor boards are then joined together by means of a “click” system or an adhesive between the hardwood boards themselves. Floating floors can be installed anywhere in a home. From a do-it-yourself standpoint, floating floors are the easiest to install.
Glue Down Installation

Glue Down Installation

With a glue-down floor, a mastic or adhesive is spread onto the subfloor to adhere the flooring to it. With this method, it is important to use the manufacturer’s recommended adhesive, and the manufacturer’s recommended trowel size, to ensure glue transfer and not void the manufacturer warranty.

Glue down floors are potentially the most difficult to do from a do-it-yourself standpoint because of the level of skill involved. For this reason, it is not recommended that you try to install a glue-down floor unless you have had extensive experience installing hardwood floors. While glue-down floors can be installed over concrete, it is still a lot more difficult to do than a floating installation.
Nail Down Installation

Nail Down Installation

Nail down and staple down floors are essentially the same thing in that the hardwood floor is affixed to the subfloor using a nail or staple fastener. Nails, also called flooring cleats, are used when the installed flooring is thick and where a staple won’t penetrate the wood. Staples are used when the flooring is thinner and where a nail would blow right through the tongue.

From a do-it-yourself standpoint, nail down and staple down floors are easier to install than glue down, but harder than floating floor installations. However, the cost of the machinery needed to install a nail down or staple down floor is significant and as such, it is not recommended that you use this method yourself. Nail down and staple down floors can not be installed on a concrete subfloor.

Different Subfloors

Wood subfloors are very common. They normally consist of Plywood or Oriented Stran Board (OSB) but can also consist of the older wooden floor boards or planks. What ever type of wooden subfloor you do have it's important to rid the floor of protruding nails, staples or screws before starting the installation. Some wooden subfloors are not level which is why it's important to use a leveling compound to level the floor before installation. An installer can normally do any type of install method over wood, including floating, nail/staple and glue down.

Concrete sub-floors are not quite as common unless you're in the southern US. With any concrete floor you need to test the moisture before installation. New concrete floors must be thoroughly dried out before installation. An installer can normally either lay a floor using a glue-down or floating method.

Plywood Subfloor Oriented Stran Subfloor Old Plank or Board Subfloor
Flooring Grades
Flooring Grades Diagram

Above Grade

Above grade flooring is any floor that is installed above ground level. Normally, above grade floors are less prone to moisture problems. Because there is little to no moisture, installation prep can be easier and require less work. It is always recommended to keep indoor humidity level between 30%-50% for proper floor care.

Below Grade

Below grade flooring refers to a floor that is installed below the earth’s surface. A common place would be in a basement. Normally below grade floors are more susceptible to moisture and not all floors can be installed below grade.