Glue-Assist or Just Nail-Down?

By John Alford

Glue-assist or just nail-down? In recent years, everyone is talking about using adhesive to help with fastening wide plank floors. The NWFA guidelines state, “If adhesive is used with nailing, follow wood and/or adhesive manufacturer’s instructions for installing plank flooring.”

Here is something to keep in mind. First, check with the manufacturer to see if the glue-assist is an acceptable method of installation. Then, take a few minutes to understand why you are using an adhesive to back up your nailing schedule.

When you get into only nailing wide planks that are 4″ or wider, you can get some movement at the center and back side of the boards, which can create a noisy floor and make it harder to sand an unfinished floor.

Gluing a floor down with either the glue-assist method, or full trowel glue method will not stop a floor from cupping or crowning, only well-maintained moisture control above and below will do that. To determine the best method, you need to look at the home and your geographic area and see which is right for the floor. When installing over uncontrolled crawl spaces, gluing may not be the best option because of the extra moisture from below. Glue-assist normally means you aren’t using a vapor retarder, and full-spread means you’ve potentially blocked all of the moisture, potentially causing other rot problems with the subfloor. In my area, almost every floor we do is over a conditioned basement so no added moisture retarder is necessary.

As long as all the other environmental factors and installation requirements are met, you may be able to minimize up and down movement and reduce the potential for noise using the glue-assist method.

These are just a couple tips about glue-assist you should consider during installation. You really need to do your research and decide if it right for your project and come out to an NWFA class so we can go into way more details as to why or why not it may be right for you.

2 thoughts

  1. Nice,
    I just glue the butt joints. This stops the movement. The key is: get the house ready for wood, then get the wood ready for the house.

    Thanks John,

  2. i have raw birch flooring in widths 3 1/4″ – 4 1/4″ – and 5-1/4″ due to the narrow halls would you recommend gluing and nailing?

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