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Floating Vs. Glue-Down Wood Floors

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With the advent of laminate floors (also called engineered floors), homeowners are no longer limited to the standard fixed glued or nailed-down flooring. Not only are floating floors more economical to install, but there are several other benefits as well. Continue reading this comparison buying guide to determine which option is right for you.

Floating Floors: The Benefits

Floating wood floors work by being attached to each flooring piece that surrounds it. In essence, the entire floor works together as one large piece. Since it is not attached to the subfloor in any way, it is considered to be “floating”. Other benefits of this type of flooring installation include:

  • Floating Floors are More Affordable: Floating wood floors are much less labor-intensive to install – and therefore, more economical - than traditional wood flooring. They are also able to be installed over many different types of existing flooring, saving additional labor costs on removal of the floor.
  • Floating Floors Are Easy to Install: Floating floor installations are literally a snap – manufacturers often fashion these floors with a snap-lock feature to make them as DIY-friendly as possible.
  • Floating Floors Move: Unlike nail or glue-down flooring, which is permanently fixed to the subfloor, a floating floor is installed with space around the perimeter of the room to allow for expansion due to moisture or temperature changes, and since they are not fastened, they won't crack or split when this happens.

Glue-Down Wood Floors: The Benefits

Using glue as a fastener permanently adheres the floor to the subfloor. This is beneficial for several reasons, including:

  • Longevity: A wood floor that has been glued to the subfloor remains in place for decades. While this may lead to boards cracking and splitting due to the inability of them to shrink and expand as needed, it gives added strength to the floor.
  • Reduced Noise: Gluing a floor directly to a suitable subfloor ensures that the floor underfoot is completely solid and there is no bounce or “clicking” due to the boards coming into contact with the subfloor with every step.

The Costs Associated With Floating and Glue-Down Floors

The following is a list of prices based on national averages – your actual costs may be slightly higher or lower depending on your exact location.

  • Installing a floating floor typically costs $2-$4 per square foot. For a typical 150 square foot room, this would cost $300-$600.
  • Installing a glue-down floor costs a bit more, typically $3-$5 per square foot. A 150 square foot room would cost $450-$750.
  • Removal of an existing floor to install a floating floor or a glue-down floor will cost $1-$4 per square foot depending on the type of floor being removed.

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