Nail Down Hardwood vs. Floating Floors

Flooring | Flowers Flooring

Remodeling your home is an exciting time, however it can be a large undertaking determining everything from fixtures, paint, furniture, and of course the component that ties it all together: flooring. The flooring is an integral part of any room and home remodel, it is the largest and most used part of your home and determines the comfort and functionality of your space.

Determining the type of floor that is best for you depends on a variety of factors. From budget to color and style, and lastly and importantly, installation.


Whether you’ve landed on classic hardwood, or sleek tile, understanding your needs during installation can help you determine the exact flooring you should purchase.


Schedule a Free In Home Estimate


Common Flooring Installation Methods


The type of flooring installation is mostly dependent on the flooring material being used, and the space where it is being installed–whether is it above grade or below grade, meaning what level of the home it is being installed. In this blog we are going to be discussing two main types of commonly used installation methods:


  • Nail down- most commonly used for natural and engineered hardwood flooring, however only with a wood subfloor.


  • Floating- applicable for hardwood, vinyl, and laminate flooring and is called “floating” because it is not adhered to the subflooring in any way.


There are other common installation methods including ceramic/tile installation and the glue down method, also used for hardwood, engineered hardwood, vinyl, laminate flooring, and in some cases, carpet.


Because we are mainly focused on nail down installation versus floating, hardwood, laminate, and vinyl will be the flooring material referenced and the type of subfloor where the flooring is being installed.


Nail Down Installation


For solid hardwood and engineered flooring, nailing down floors is one of the most common methods. The process involves nailing down through the tongue, or the portion of the board that protrudes and fits into the groove of the adjacent board, making the nail nearly invisible after installation is complete.


Nail down is best for on grade or above grade installation and can only be used on a wood subfloor. This method of installation is considered the fastest and most cost-effective method and offers easy replacement should one or a few boards become damaged. However, there are some factors that might suggest an alternative method would be better suited for installation. A disadvantage to nail down floors is that over time nails can become loose, resulting in squeaky floors. Another challenge to nail down installation, particularly for hardwood, is the extra tools and material that is needed such as the right kind of nail gun, jamb saw, and router–which may require professional installation services rather than DIY.



Floating Floors


Floating flooring, also known as “click-and-lock or “snap-together” flooring because of their interlocking design. These flooring planks have an intricate tongue-and-groove system that allows for seamless installation. They simply lock together over top of the subfloor or existing floor and the interlocking design is strong enough to keep the floor securely in place without nailing down or glue.


Floating floors are becoming more common in the flooring world and the advantages and disadvantages are becoming a hot topic of conversation. Because floating floors do not require being secured to the subfloor, it is growing in popularity, many laminate and hardwood flooring materials are available in a floating option.



Nail Down vs. Floating


A floating floor does not need to be secured with nails or glue to the subfloor allowing floating floors to be installed over existing floors, without any “extras” or expertise needed resulting in a quick and affordable install. However, floating flooring may need to be replaced more frequently. Due to a small amount of space “thin air” between the subfloor and the planks (hence the “floating”) daily activities and wear on the floor can have a higher impact on the flooring. This could be looked at as a huge disadvantage but is also easily remedied. Plus, the “walking in air” feeling might be a great benefit to those with joint issues.

Floating floors also cannot be refinished as frequently, or at all. Really this relates to the type of material, not the installation method, but many interlocking flooring options are engineered hardwood, not solid wood and therefore the veneer finish on an engineered product doesn’t allow for refinishing where solid wood can be sanded and refinished.


Additionally, in some cases, floating floors can amplify sound, whereas planks that have been glued or nailed down, the connection between the flooring and subfloor reduces noise. The disadvantages to floating flooring are minor compared to the ease of install, affordability, and the ability to replace individual planks more easily which greatly outweigh the disadvantages for most people.


However, at the end of the day, when considering the best installation method for you between nail down vs. floating floors, it’s best to consider your specific pain points, budget, and desires. Whichever you choose nail down or floating, Flowers Flooring offers an array of options to meet your flooring needs.


About Flowers Flooring

Flowers Flooring is your family flooring specialists with two locations – Cornelius, NC and Winston-Salem, NC. Both locations service a 100-mile radius from the showroom. Both locations specialize in flooring sales and installation including carpet, laminate, hardwood, sand & finish, hardwood restoration, vinyl plank, vinyl tile, rubber flooring, tile floors, tile showers, tile backsplash, area rugs, interior painting and more. To reach the Cornelius, NC location please call (704) 445-7750 and to reach our Winston-Salem location, please call (336) 660-0977. Please be sure to inquire about our current promotion and financing offers.