Hardwood floor installation

Hardwood Floor Installation Techniques: Which Method Suits Your Home?

Hardwood flooring is a timeless addition to any home, offering both beauty and value. However, the success of a hardwood floor installation in North Carolina or elsewhere depends largely on choosing the right installation method that suits the specific needs of your home. This article explores the primary techniques—floating, glue-down, and nail-down—used in hardwood floor installation, and discusses which methods are best for various types of subflooring and living conditions.

Understanding the Basics of Hardwood Floor Installation

Before delving into the specifics of each installation technique, it's important to understand the general requirements for installing hardwood flooring. Preparing the subfloor, acclimating the hardwood to the indoor environment, and choosing the right type of hardwood are fundamental steps that precede the actual installation. Each installation method offers different benefits and challenges, which can be influenced by the climate, subfloor condition, and the type of hardwood used.

Floating Hardwood Floor Installation

The floating installation method involves laying the hardwood flooring over a pad or underlayment without directly attaching it to the subfloor. This technique is favored for its versatility and ease of installation. It's particularly suitable for homes in North Carolina where the subfloor may not be perfectly level or for installations over existing floors like tile or linoleum.

One major advantage of floating floors is their ability to expand and contract with changes in humidity without buckling. This makes floating hardwood floors ideal for regions with varying seasonal humidity levels. Additionally, floating floors are often easier and quicker to install, which can be beneficial for DIY enthusiasts or when minimizing disruption is a priority.

Glue-Down Hardwood Floor Installation

Glue-down installation involves adhering the hardwood directly to the subfloor using a strong adhesive. This method is highly recommended for concrete subfloors, which are common in many modern and lower-level homes. Glue-down hardwood floors are extremely stable and less prone to shifting or creaking, making them a good choice for high-traffic areas.

In the humid climate of North Carolina, glue-down installation offers the advantage of excellent moisture control. By selecting the right adhesive, you can also achieve a degree of flexibility that allows the wood to expand and contract without damaging the integrity of the floor. However, this method requires a very flat and clean subfloor, and the removal of the flooring later on can be challenging.

Nail-Down Hardwood Floor Installation

Nail-down installation is the traditional method for installing hardwood and is particularly suited for wood subfloors. This technique involves nailing or stapling the hardwood directly to the subfloor. Nail-down installation is highly durable and is considered the best option for solid hardwood flooring.

For homes in North Carolina with plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) subfloors, nail-down installation can provide a very secure and long-lasting floor. It's ideal for areas in the home that experience heavy foot traffic or substantial furniture placement. However, this method can be more labor-intensive and requires more skill than floating or glue-down techniques.

Choosing the Right Method for Your Home

When deciding on the best hardwood floor installation technique for your home in North Carolina, consider the following factors:

  • Type of Subfloor: Concrete subfloors often require a glue-down method, whereas wood subfloors are ideal for nail-down installations. Floating floors are versatile and can be installed over most types of subfloors.
  • Climate and Humidity: In areas with high humidity or fluctuating temperatures, floating floors offer better adaptation to environmental changes.
  • Floor Traffic and Use: High-traffic areas benefit from the stability of nail-down or glue-down installations.
  • Future Flexibility: If you anticipate the need to change flooring in the future, floating floors provide easier removal options.


Selecting the right hardwood floor installation method is crucial for ensuring the longevity and beauty of your flooring. Each method—floating, glue-down, and nail-down—has its advantages and is suited to different conditions and needs. Homeowners in North Carolina should consider their specific home environment, subfloor type, and lifestyle requirements when choosing an installation technique for hardwood flooring. With the right choice, your hardwood floors will enhance your home's aesthetic appeal and provide comfort for many years to come. Contact us for a free estimate.