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How To

By identifying the flooring installation method, you can assess the time required for pre-installation as well as the installation cost, both of which are important considerations when it comes to choosing the type of installation.

Written by: Yarl Christie

Published on: May 02, 2018

A Guide to the Different Floor Installation Methods

When it comes to flooring installation, the method you choose is an important factor. The pre-installation procedure (and the time required for it), varies for each different installation method, and the costs vary too. By identifying the flooring installation method that you want to use, you can assess the time required for pre-installation, as well as the installation cost.

Let uss look at some of the popular installation methods you can follow below...

Nail Down or Staple Down

The nail or staple down method can be used with engineered and solid wood flooring. This method requires specialised tools such as floor nailers, staplers, and an air compressor. Depending on the thickness of the floor, you will need nails and staples of different gauges and lengths.

It is often referred to as a “blindly nailed” technique. You angle the nail by 45 degrees at the tongue, then nail it through.

Nail down flooring installation

When working with long strip floors, you’ll need to staple, rather than nail them down. You will also need to install a thin underlay beneath the planks whichever method you follow. This is important as it serves as a moisture barrier for the floor, preventing damage over time. The underlay also gets rid of any floor creaks and squeaks.

This method requires a wooden subfloor that is clean, dry, and stable. Unless you have utmost expertise, it is best to leave it to the professionals.


  • Creates a stable, secure fit
  • It is relatively cheap compared to other methods
  • Good insulation underfoot


  • Can only be used with a wood subfloor
  • Seasonal expansion can cause the nails to loosen
  • It is best installed by professionals

Glue Down Flooring

Commonly used on vinyl flooring, the glue down method is an adhesive-based installation technique. There are adhesives of different chemical compositions available. It is crucial to make sure you choose the right adhesive for accurate installation. As it does use adhesives, this method is also quite messy too.

How to install glue down flooring

The type of subfloor plays an important role here. For example, if the subfloor is made of wood, then you won’t need to use a lot of adhesive. Concrete subfloors on the other hand require more adhesive due to the possibility of the floor being exposed to high moisture levels or highly reactive chemicals.

Precautions also need to be taken to ensure that planks are aligned straight in a row. An initial dry fit (the process where planks are fit into place without adhesives), is recommended to identify any adjustments needed for a perfect installation.


  • It provides a more stable fit and won’t move around
  • It won’t need a vapour barrier
  • Can be used on a variety of subfloors


  • More difficult to install than other methods
  • Difficult to remove if you need to repair or replace the floor
  • Messy installation

Glue-Free Tongue & Groove Floating Installation

This is a common installation method for floors that use a High-Density Fibre Board as their core layer. This layer enables manufacturers to mill tongues and grooves onto the sides of the planks.

Connecting the tongue on one plank with the respective groove in the adjacent plank, locks it perfectly in place. This method does not need adhesives or nails. Once installed, the floor achieves a seamless look

Floating floor installation

Floors featuring this technology stay stable and firm. They require an underlay to be placed beneath the floor. This helps to add comfort, as well as reduce sound. This installation adapts to any existing subfloor including vinyl, hardwood, or tile. The only requirement is that the subfloor should be clean, dry, stable, and strong.

This method demands less technical expertise and as such, is popular among those who prefer DIY installation.


  • Fast and easy method that anybody can follow
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to remove or repair damaged planks


  • Planks may need to be replaced more frequently
  • May amplify sound if installed incorrectly
  • You won’t be able to sand the floor down

Click System Installation

Click system installation is the easiest method you can follow. Most commonly found on LVT flooring, click systems enable you to simply click the planks or tiles together.

Typically installed over an underlay, you won’t need any glue, nails, or screws. Once connected, the planks and tiles fit closely together, eliminating unsightly gaps. One of the main benefits of this type of installation is that anybody can do it. You won’t need any specialist experience to install click system floors yourself.

Although mostly found on LVT and laminate floors, newer engineered wood flooring also features a click system.


  • A fast and easy installation method
  • Fit the floor completely by yourself
  • Produces a tight, secure fit


  • Must be installed on a solid base, not over joists

Choosing the Right Installation System to Suit You

Now that you have a good understanding of the different installation methods, it’s time to choose the one that best suits you. When looking for a floor, pay attention to its installation method. Each floor will state the type of installation system it comes with.

If you want the fastest and easiest method, click system floors are recommended. If you want the most secure method and don’t mind bringing in the professionals, you can opt for a nail or glue down floor.

Spend time figuring out what your main priorities are in terms of installation. This will help you to determine which floor is better suited to your requirements.

About The Author

Yarl Christie

Yarl is the Managing Director of Stories Flooring. started his career in the flooring industry by becoming a floor fitter at the age of 18 (2004). Yarl finally decided to move with the times and set up an online flooring store (Flooring Yorkshire, 2018). He works closely with the business managers and resource team to source new products from wholesalers, which in turn brings down the sale price. This enables Stories Flooring to be one of the leading UK flooring retailers.