Floating Floor Vs. Glue Down Flooring: Which Floor Is Better

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When it comes to revamping your home, selecting the right type of flooring is a critical decision. One aspect that often confuses homeowners is choosing between two popular installation methods, floating floors and glue-down floors. Today we are talking about hardwood flooring, floating floors, glued-down floor methods and which method of installation is the best. 

The first thing that needs to happen before you choose new flooring, is determine is your budget. Measure the entire floor size and figure out how much it will cost per square foot for flooring materials and floor installation. 

floating floor vs glue-down floor
floating floor installation method over concrete

What Are Floating Floors

A floating floor is a type of flooring installation that doesn’t require adhesive or nails to affix it to the subfloor. Instead, the individual planks or tiles lock together and “float” on top of the subfloor.

This method is very popular for various flooring types, including laminate, engineered hardwood, and luxury vinyl plank.

floating floor in a basement
The beginning of our floating floor installation

It’s also a great option for those working on a budget as the cost per square foot is usually reasonable and the installation process is much faster than the glue-down method, making it more cost effective if you are paying someone to install your new floor.

​We have installed several floating floors over concrete in a basement and have been very impressed with the ease of installation and quality of the floor. 

You can see our floating floor installation above in our basement by clicking through this post, how to install a floating vinyl plank flooring over cement.

Benefits of Floating Floors

Floating floors offer several advantages, making them a popular choice:

  • Easy Installation: The floating method is straightforward, making it a feasible DIY project.
  • Versatility: Depending on the type of subfloor, floating floors can be installed over various subfloors, including concrete subfloors.
  • Quick Installation: Since there’s no need for adhesive to dry, you can walk on your new floor immediately.
installing brown waterproof vinyl plank flooring without removing old floor
installing a floating floor is so easy

As you can see above, the floating floor lays on the subfloor and you install by tapping the floor pieces together.

Our pool house floating floor installation took 1 day to install and was so easy! You can see that post by clicking through to this post, our pool house vinyl plank flooring.

installing brown waterproof vinyl plank flooring without removing old floor
The floating floor installed in our pool house was the perfect choice

When to Choose a Floating Floor

Luxury vinyl flooring and floating floors are an excellent choice in certain situations:

  • Moisture-Prone Areas: If you’re installing flooring in a room where moisture might be an issue, like a basement with a concrete subfloor, a floating floor is often the best option. It provides a moisture barrier between the subfloor and the flooring material.
rigid core vinyl plank flooring over concrete basement floor
vinyl plank floating floor in a basement installed over concrete
Basement remodel with gray Rigid Core Vinyl Planking by Select Surfaces
Perfect floating flooring for this basement remodel

The basement remodel above features vinyl plank floating floor. If you missed this flooring makeover, check out this post, why we love vinyl plank floating flooring in a basement.

FAQs about Floating Floor Vs Glue-Down

One of the biggest disadvantages of a floating floor is that the floor may have occasional squishy spots under your feet. This is normal but based on the type of flooring and subfloor, some spots may feel uneven underneath. This doesn’t bother many home owners but it is a consideration to explore.

Glue down flooring is more permanent and the subfloor needs to be 100% level and even. It’s also very difficult to remove once the adhesive is dry. The installation is more involved and often requires a professional install which ultimately, increases the cost of the project.

What are Glue-Down Floors

​Glue Down Flooring

Glue down floors are secured to the subfloor using adhesive. This method is commonly used for hardwood floors but can also be used with other flooring materials. The adhesive creates a strong bond, ensuring the floor remains firmly in place.

How to Install Engineered Hardwood Flooring Tips + Tricks

For this flooring project, we used adhesive to glue the flooring planks together as this was engineered hardwood flooring. You can find all the details by clicking through to this post, “engineered hardwood vs hardwood flooring.”

Engineered is more of a solid hardwood (click together) featuring a thin layer of veneer on top vs thinner vinyl “wood looking” flooring.

Benefits of Glue-Down Floors

When comparing a floating floor vs glue down, glue-down floors come with their own set of advantages:

  • Durability: The adhesive bond provides exceptional durability, making glue-down floors a top choice for high-traffic areas.
  • Solid Feel: Glue-down floors give a solid, stable feel underfoot, which some homeowners prefer.

One of the biggest differences between a floating floor and glue down is the potential squishy feeling you may get when walking on a floating floor. Depending on the type of flooring, it is normal to have an occasional spot that doesn’t feel “solid” under your feet. This is normal but may bother some.

Glue-down is the best if you do not want to risk that squishy feel but to be honest, it will depend on the subfloor you are installing the floor over and the cost will likely be more.

glue down flooring (see adhesive under the flooring)

When to Choose Glue-Down Flooring

Glue-down floors are a great option in specific scenarios. Glue-down floors may require a professional installer (which may mean higher cost to the your budget) to ensure the job is done properly.

If you do opt for this installation method, make sure to use a high-quality adhesive that meets the manufacturer’s specifications.

DIY Hardwood Flooring Project in our Family Room / Shaw Floors / Epic Plus Hardwood Flooring

High Traffic Areas

For spaces that endure heavy foot traffic, such as hallways or commercial spaces, glue-down floors are often the best option due to their durability.

Hardwood Floors

If you’re installing hardwood floors, the glue-down method is a traditional and reliable choice to ensure a secure and long-lasting installation.

refinished hardwood floors in bona nordic sealer
our hardwood floors are glued down

Factors to Consider

Important factors to consider before you pick a floor type will not only depend on your budget but the existing factors in your home. 

Once I narrow down my flooring choices, I personally like to do a side-by-side comparison of each to figure out the better option. 

Most of the time, my budget and existing subfloor condition make the flooring option for me! ha.

Types of Flooring Material

Your choice between a floating floor and glue down floor largely depends on the type of flooring material you plan to use.

Laminate and luxury vinyl plank are commonly installed as floating floors, while solid hardwood is typically installed as a glue-down floor. Consider the material’s recommendations for the best installation method.

Different flooring types: hardwood, floating, glue down and carpet

In the past, vinyl floors and laminate flooring got a bad rap simply because they were not constructed with the best quality of materials. I am here to tell you that in the last 10 years, glue-down vinyl plank flooring and floating luxury vinyl flooring have come a long way! We love them for basements and areas that may get wet like bathrooms and a pool house.

Subfloor Condition

When comparing a floating floor vs glue down, the condition of your subfloor plays a crucial role in your decision. If you have a concrete subfloor, it’s essential to choose a flooring installation method that can accommodate it. Floating floors are often more forgiving in this regard, as they can include moisture barriers.

man snapping a chalk line on concrete floor
concrete subfloor

Room and Usage

Think about the room’s purpose and the level of foot traffic it will experience. For example, a living room or bedroom may be suitable for a floating floor, while a busy kitchen or hallway could benefit from the stability of glued-down floors.

More Flooring Posts

In the realm of home improvement, choosing the right flooring installation method is vital. Floating floors offer ease and versatility, making them ideal for DIY projects and moisture-prone areas. On the other hand, glue-down floors provide durability and a solid feel underfoot, making them perfect for high-traffic areas and traditional hardwood installations.

Meet Jessica

What started as a hobby, Jessica’s blog now has millions of people visit yearly and while many of the projects and posts look and sound perfect, life hasn’t always been easy. Read Jessica’s story and how overcoming death, divorce and dementia was one of her biggest life lessons to date.

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