Hardwood Floors: Floating Vs. Glue-Down

Selecting new flooring is not always an easy task. Many questions need to be answered before the homeowner will have peace of mind that the hardwood flooring will be able to withstand the living style of the household. The choice becomes even more complicated with new hardwood floating products on the market. There are two main installation types to choose from when installing hardwood flooring. The flooring can either be secured to the subfloor with glue or it can float on top of the subfloor without any kind of attachment to the subfloor itself.


Hardwood floors can add warmth to a home when installed properly.

Floating floors use an interlocking tongue and groove design to tie the sections together and keep the floor in place. For homeowners who are concerned about raising overall floor height or don't want to create a new plywood subfloor, a floating hardwood floor may be the best option.

Glued hardwood floors are secured to the subfloor underneath with flooring adhesive. This type of flooring is considered a more permanent type of floor. However, it does require that a quality subfloor be in place for hardwood flooring to be attached to. This may require the home owner to put down a new subfloor of plywood which will raise the overall floor height and add to the cost of the flooring.

Pro and Cons

Floating floors are much easier to repair if a section of the floor becomes damaged. Due to the tongue and groove design of the flooring it is possible to replace individual boards. However, the floor will have to be dismantled up to the board that is being replaced and then reassembled. It is not possible to remove just the damaged piece without damaging the tongue and groove of the other boards. Floating floors often require sound reducers as well. Due to the fact that they are not secured to the subfloor the wood floor will expand and contract with the seasons. This may cause air pockets to form under the floor that will echo when walked on.

Hardwood flooring that is glued down is more difficult to repair if damaged. However, the wood type that is generally used for this permanent type of flooring is very durable. Hardwood floors that are glued to the subfloor don't require any sound reducing material since no space is capable of forming between the boards of the floor and the subfloor. Hardwood floors that are glued down generally have several layers of wear protection that lends to the life of the product.

Both types of flooring require moisture protection.


Both flooring types are relatively easy to maintain. Regular sweeping and mopping will keep either a floating hardwood floor or a glued hardwood floor looking fresh. If concerned about using a cleaning agent on the floor ask the installer for advice.


Hardwood floors that are glued down are going to be a more expensive than a floating hardwood floor. This is due to the increased labor and product that is required to install a glued hardwood floor. Floating hardwood flooring systems are less expensive, however, the also lack some of the durability that glued hardwood floors offer. It is important when calculating costs to consider the longevity of the product and to ensure that it will meet the needs of the homeowner.

The Wear Factor

It is important to note that some hardwood floating floors have a history of showing heavy traffic areas after being installed for a while. This depends greatly on the layers of wear protection that is added to the top of the product during manufacturing.

Glued hardwood floors generally handle heavy foot traffic without much issue. However, they are more susceptible to splintering if something heavy is dropped on the boards.

It is impossible to say that one product is better than the other. However, one product type may be better for a specific application than the other product. So when deciding between a floating or glued hardwood floors take time to consider the application where the flooring will be installed.