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Floating vs. Glue-Down Wood Flooring [Pros & Cons]

June 23, 2020
Floating wood floors are thinner tongue and groove flooring sections that interlock together without any actual fasteners. Typically, this type of hardwood flooring is set up with a series of tongues and grooves so that they can be attached to one another. When installing these hardwood flooring options, you simply slide the tongues into the grooves and place the flooring directly over your subfloor. They are simple and fast to install and offer long-term durability that you simply can’t get from other types of flooring.
  • Floating wood floors are made up of many layers of hardwood meshed together, and they offer excellent strength.
  • These floors are designed to contract and expand with humidity levels naturally and they function in a wide range of environments.
  • Some of these floating floors are designed to naturally click together, while others will require glue to be applied to the tongues before completing the installation of each plank.
  • Either way, this type of engineered hardwood flooring is simple to install and designed for longevity.
If you’re searching for a product that you can put down quickly and easily but that will look like natural hardwood floors, floating wood floors could be a good option for you versus the other hardwood flooring types.
hardwood floor

Considering Floating Hardwood Floors?

There’s a lot to think about when looking at the many different hardwood flooring options, but there is a lot going for floating wood floors, especially if you’re planning on installing them yourself. This type of flooring holds up exceptionally well and it goes down quickly and can be installed without too many special tools and equipment. As a homeowner looking for a simple flooring solution that has the high-quality appearance and strength of hardwoods, floating wood floors are an excellent option.

Highly Durable:

One of the biggest benefits of floating hardwoods is just how durable they are versus other floating floor options. Compared to laminate floors, engineered hardwoods offer more long-term performance. As long as you purchase one of the thicker hardwood flooring options when you pick out your floating variety, you can refinish them a few times when they become worn out.
hardwood floor in dining room

Laminate flooring can’t be refinished and must be replaced when it becomes too worn in order to restore the look of the floor. There are few other flooring varieties that will last as long as properly cared for engineered wood floors, and you can enjoy that same durability with floating wood floors when they are installed properly.


Compared to solid hardwoods, floating wood floors are more affordable to install and a seriously economical way to restore the look of your floors. If you’re trying to enhance the look of your home while on a budget, floating floors can help you save money over traditional hardwoods for both installation and material costs themselves.

These floors are much more affordable to have installed and you can even install them yourself if you like. Floating hardwoods are a quality option that homeowners should at least consider as an option, and they can even be installed over an existing hardwood floor in some instances to cut down on the labor of ripping up flooring to put something else down.

How do floating floors stay in place?

Out of all the different hardwood flooring types out there, floating floors rely on a few basic concepts to keep them locked down firmly in place during use, weight and friction. These floors go down quickly and easily because they don’t require any sort of fasteners at all during installation.

This is possible because each of the floor pieces goes together like a massive puzzle. When you install floating wood floors, you are attaching one piece after another together to form one solid piece of wood in the end. This process creates a solid flooring surface that’s nice looking, but it also creates one heavy piece of wood that’s very difficult to move around.

When floating hardwood flooring options are installed, they are put down so there is only a very slight gap around the edges of the room to allow for expansion and contraction. So there is very little space for this very heavy wooden surface to move around and friction prevents much motion from occurring at all.

Essentially, with floating hardwood flooring you get this massive interconnected wood surface that very slowly shifts back and forth tiny amounts throughout the year. It’s too heavy to slide around much during use and friction makes sure that any sliding that does happen is so slow that you would never notice it.
floating hardwood floor installation

For that reason floating hardwood flooring functions nearly the same as a flooring option that’s fastened down to the subfloor surface, you just don’t have to deal with all those pesky fasteners. The end result is a floor that’s simpler to install, and a floor that’s easier to remove when the day comes to switch it out for a different option. There are very few convenient hardwood flooring options that look as nice as floating hardwoods while being easy to deal with as well. That’s why you should very seriously consider floating hardwoods.

Floating vs Glue-Down Hardwood Floors

When considering engineered hardwood flooring, there are really only two options that make sense, floating or glue-down. Both of these flooring options have advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to take some time to get familiar with each. By taking some time to learn what these hardwood flooring types have to offer, you’ll know which of the two engineered hardwoods you want.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Glue Down Flooring

Glue down hardwood flooring often sounds more like real solid hardwood flooring than floating floors do. Because of the way it is installed there isn’t a hollow sound when walking across the floor or a spongy feel, this is something that can be an issue with floating floors if they aren’t installed perfectly and with optimal conditions.
floating hardwood floor installation


  • Glue down hardwood flooring also doesn’t require a vapor barrier because the glue itself acts as the barrier. This can reduce the installation costs for this type of flooring a bit, though they are comparable to one another when you account for the cost of glue and increased labor costs.
  • Glue down flooring also shifts a bit less, and it can be used in surfaces that aren’t quite as level as what is required with floating floors.


Even though glue down hardwood flooring types come with quite a few benefits, they also take much longer to install than floating floors do.
  • They are more difficult to install and will come with higher labor costs if you have professionals put them in.
  • These floors are more difficult to remove if you decide you want to replace them down the road, and you’ll be working much harder to take off the adhered boards than you would with a simple click and lock type of floating floor.
hardwood floor

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Floating Wood Floors


  • Floating wood floors are easier to install than glue down floors and can be put into place faster. It’s possible to install an entire room of this type of flooring in just a day or two for most people. That type of installation takes longer when putting in glue down flooring because it’s a more intensive process overall.
  • Floating flooring is easier to tear up if necessary as well. It’s pretty affordable and often cheaper to put in in the end than glue down flooring is, even with the extra underlayment that’s required. It’s also important to realize that floating floors can go down over more types of underlayment.
  • If you’re trying to install a floor over a surface that traditional glue-down flooring can’t attach to, you are better off going with a floating floor if you don’t want to change your subfloor.
Though there are considerable benefits to floating wood floors, there are some drawbacks as well.


  • They shift more than glue down flooring does.
  • They require a separate underlayment that adds to installation time and cost. Floating hardwood flooring options require a more level surface or they sound hollow and less like real hardwoods too. This is another major consideration if you’re planning on getting floating hardwoods.

How to decide between Floating and Glue-Down Hardwood floors

After you’ve taken the time to consider the different engineered hardwood flooring options, it’s time to decide whether you want to go with floating wood floors or the glue down variety. Both option is good for different reasons, but you need to decide which is more important to you.

Ease of Installation and Removal:

If you’re planning on installing the flooring yourself, or you want to minimize your labor costs when having engineered flooring put down in your home, your best option is floating hardwood flooring. That’s because this type of flooring goes down faster and easier and is more cost-effective overall. You’ll likely save some money over the process of this installation and the end result will be a floor that you love and that was much simpler to put in. Glue down flooring isn’t really difficult to install, but it takes more time, experience and tools to put in properly.

Incompatible Subfloor Options:

When you have a subfloor that can’t be glued to for one reason or another a subfloor is an obvious option to work with. Floating hardwood flooring types can be installed over a much wider range of surfaces successfully. You’ll have fewer problems with the installation and you won’t have to consider doing something dramatic like changing your subfloor to a different material. That means that you can enjoy a good solid or engineered hardwood floor without any extra steps that you might have to go through with a glue-down flooring option.

Working with an Unlevel Floor:

While you should go through the trouble to try and level up a seriously out of the level floor, there are some floors that are just enough out of level to be poor candidates for a floating hardwood floor, but just fine for glue down hardwood flooring options. If your flooring is more than ¼” out of level over a 10′ distance you will likely want to go with a glue-down flooring option if you don’t want to deal with the trouble of leveling things up first.

Real Hardwood Floor Feel and Sound:

If you care about getting the most realistic feeling hardwood flooring that sounds like solid hardwoods do when they are installed, there’s really a no better way to do that with engineered wood flooring than by gluing it down. This helps give the floor a more solid feel and sound and removes that spongy underlayment. These floors tend to have a bit less give though, making them slightly less comfortable to walk across. If you care about the feel of the floor glue down is an excellent option. If you care more about ease of installation then floating makes the most sense.

When trying to decide on the best hardwood flooring types it’s important to really think about what you value the most and to choose an option based on your preferences. If you want a simple and easy floor installation floating floors are a good option. If you have a difficult subfloor to work with, floating floors are your best bet. If you want a more realistic sounding floor, glue down hardwood flooring options are best.

If you’re considering floating wood floors, give us a call today to find out what varieties are available and we’ll help you find the best flooring option to meet your needs.
Floating vs. Glue-Down Wood Flooring: Pros & Cons

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