Understanding Hardwood Floor Installation - Glue down, Glue assist, and Nail down

Rod Lorenz

Hardwood floors add timeless elegance and a touch of class to any home. But when it comes to installing hardwood floors, homeowners face a crucial decision: which installation method to choose—Glue Down, Glue Assist, or Nail Down.

Each approach has distinct features, pros, and cons; the best choice depends on several factors. We’re here to guide you through these methods to help you better understand the process.

Glue-Down Method—Glue-down installation involves gluing hardwood planks directly to the subfloor. This method is suitable for both concrete and wooden subfloors.


Stability: The adhesive secures the hardwood, reducing the planks' movement and potential for warping or gapping.
Acoustics: Reduced hollow sounds and creaking compared to floating floors.
Compatibility: Ideal for thinner planks or when installing over radiant heating systems.

Difficulty in Removal: Changing your floors in the future can be challenging and messy.
Preparation: The subfloor needs to be flat and clean, which could involve additional work.

Glue Assist Method—We use glue assist when installing planks wider than 3 ¼” and on floors over concrete slabs or parquet-style floors. 

Acoustics: Prevents squeaks in wider boards.
Flexibility: As the floor isn't fully fixed to the subfloor, it can expand and contract with changes in humidity.
Humidity: Helps with shrinkage/expansion that seasonal humidity can cause. 

Movement: These floors can feel less stable underfoot.
Moisture Sensitivity: Not the best option for bathrooms or areas with moisture.

Nail-Down Method—In the nail-down method, nails secure planks to the subfloor. We use nail-down on boards that are 3 ¼” or less. It’s a traditional installation method typically used with a wooden subfloor.

Durability: Provides a solid, secure, and permanent flooring solution.
Feeling: Tends to feel sturdier underfoot.
Longevity: Good for homes where you want the flooring to last decades without replacement.

Time-Consuming: Requires more time to install.
Limited Subfloor Compatibility: Not suitable for concrete subfloors without a plywood base.

When deciding which installation method to choose, consider the following:

Glue Down is best for commercial spaces or high-traffic areas needing maximum stability; Glue Assist is ideal for installing flooring in spaces with changing humidity levels, while Nail Down is perfect for those installing hardwood over wooden subfloors who want a traditional look and feel.

Remember that a successful hardwood floor installation depends not only on the quality of the materials but also on the expertise of the installers. That's why Ralph’s Hardwood Floor technicians are here to help you choose the right hardwood floors for your unique needs. With years of experience and a commitment to excellence, Ralph's will ensure your hardwood floor installation is as smooth and beautiful as the floors themselves.

Are you ready to take the next step? Contact us at Ralph's Hardwood Floors to explore your options and find the perfect match for your home. How about we get started on creating that dream space together?

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