I enjoy working on home improvement projects and know a lot about installing hardwood floors.
So, you have chosen the type and color of wood for your floor. You have decided to try to do it yourself and have done all the research you can, online and off, to help you understand the project you are about to undertake, and the flooring you chose happens to be one that needs to be glued down. Do you skimp or save, choosing the cheapest glue you can just to "get it done?"
No. Hardwood flooring glue (or glue-down adhesives) is one of the most important decisions that you make before you begin the installation process. If you choose the cheapest adhesive, you could be in for problems in the future. And many do-it-yourselfers or weekend warriors undermine their own efforts by cutting corners and getting cheap. Don't do it! You may not only have problems later on down the road; you could be unwittingly voiding your floor's warranty.
Types of Adhesive Glue for Hardwood Floors
There are primarily two adhesive gluedown product types for traditional wood floors:
- Urethane Adhesive Gluedown
- Water-Based Adhesive Gluedown
Both have their benefits and problems, which we will discuss in greater detail.
Urethane Adhesive—The Most Popular Hardwood Adhesive Today
Urethane adhesives are the most popular of all the types used today. Usually, the hardwood floor companies will specify a particular brand of glue if they don't offer their own glue product. While not the ultimate solution for people looking for a viable solution to, urethane adhesive is by far more eco-friendly than glues that were used decades ago which are now banned by the EPA. Bostik's, a very popular adhesive company that specializes in glues and sealants, should only be used on glue-down floors that are solid as opposed to engineered wood floors. Typically, solid floors are nailed down while engineered floors can be glued down.
Bostik's adhesives are by far the leader when it comes to wood adhesives, but there are a lot of competitors in the glue market, including Mapei and Saki (to name a couple). If you are going to use a urethane adhesive, proper clean-up on the day of the install is critical. Common clean-up materials for this glue are mineral spirits although Bostik also has wipes that can do the job.
The Plop and Slide Down Method With Water-Based Adhesives:
Most installers will tell you that the "plop and slide down method" should not be used when using glue down adhesives, because for the do-it-yourselfer or amateur handyman, you will find that when installing a board, sometimes the board may drop down away from the tongue and groove. With urethane-based glues, inserting the board into the groove will almost always fail because of the nature of the glue. Water-based adhesives are far more forgiving when this happens, though.
Another benefit to using water-based adhesives is that they respond well to the "banana effect" of some engineered hardwoods. The banana effect is when the wood doesn't appear to be totally secured to the subfloor. With urethane adhesive, there are very few corrective measures that you can take. However, with a water-based adhesive, you can simply add a weight to the plank or section in question, and after it has dried, the effect will be a stronger, more solid glue-down.
How to Install a Glue-Down Engineered Hardwood Floor
Water-based adhesives are also easier to clean up; all you need is a damp rag (use a little water) before you start the adhesive set and after the floor is cured, use mineral spirits.
What About an Adhesive for a Floating Floor?
Most floating floors out there today don't use adhesives but instead, use a locking mechanism to secure each panel or section of wood into place. That said, there are still some hardwood floors that use glue-down adhesives. And most manufacturers who require a glue down for a floating floor have their own adhesives such as Bruce and Karh's. All this said, the glue that the pros use is Titebond Tongue-and-Groove Flooring Glue.
The bottom line is that if you are spending thousands of dollars on hardwood floors for your home, don't try to skimp on adhesives. Choose the glue that is recommended by the manufacturer and if there is nothing recommended, then ask a professional, do your research, and don't cut corners. After all, a properly laid floor should last you for decades.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2010 ManHubber
Joe on July 19, 2020:
I recommend Sika t55j
Floor installer on December 27, 2019:
Seems that the author of this article does know nothing about new technology adhesive MS Polymer.
Mark Thompson on March 30, 2018:
Hi, If i was spending any dollars buying a wooden floor i certainly wouldn't be seeking your advice.
There are better adhesives available now e.g Polymer ones that are suitable for fixing solid and engineered floors. No nails required
john eddie lepine on October 16, 2017:
a section of old parka flooring has come up what mastic glue do I need