Glue vs. Nail: Which Method Is Best for Your Hardwood Floors?

Do you want to install hardwood flooring in your home but need to know how? First, you must decide whether it should be glued or nailed down! This can be tricky as each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. This blog post will explore the differences between glue and nail hardwood flooring installation and help you decide. Read on to learn more!

Glue Installation for Hardwood Flooring

The Advantages

Easier to Install

One of the biggest advantages of glue installation for hardwood flooring is that it is typically faster and easier to install than nailing. In addition, glue can be applied quickly and easily in a single motion, making it ideal for larger surface areas.

No Need for Nails 

With glue installation, you don’t need to use nails or staples. This means the process is much cleaner and will leave your floor without any unsightly nail holes or staples sticking out.


Glue installation for hardwood floors provides a strong and durable bonding resistant to water. The adhesive seeps into the flooring and creates a secure bond between the hardwood planks and the subfloor, ensuring a lasting hold. 

The adhesive also helps reduce foot traffic noise and provides a cushion for the hardwood planks, giving your flooring extra protection against wear and tear.

Additionally, glue installation is resistant to temperature changes, which is great if you live in an area with extreme weather conditions.

Longer-Lasting Results

Finally, glue installation for hardwood flooring is often longer-lasting compared to nailing. This is due to the strong and water-resistant adhesive bond that protects against wear and tear.

The Disadvantages

More Expensive

The main disadvantage of glue installation for hardwood flooring is that it tends to be more expensive than the nailing option. This is mainly due to the cost of purchasing the adhesive and labor costs related to the installation process.

Time-Consuming Process

Another disadvantage of glue installation for hardwood flooring is that it can be time-consuming due to the drying times required after application. 

After applying, the adhesive requires time to cure and dry completely before you can walk on the floor.

Prone to Shifting

Finally, glue installation for hardwood flooring is prone to shifting if the floor isn’t level before the installation begins. This can be a problem in older homes with uneven subfloors or in areas where the floor may settle over time.

Requires Special Tools

Glue installation also requires special tools and skill sets that are not necessary with nailing. This means finding a professional installer experienced in glue application may be more challenging, making the process more costly.

Nailing Installation for Hardwood Flooring

The Advantages

Traditional Method

Nailing installation is the traditional method for hardwood flooring and provides a high level of stability. 

The nails penetrate through the planks and into the subfloor, ensuring a secure hold that will stand up to foot traffic and provide extra protection against shifting or settling over time. 

Additionally, nailing can be used with standard and engineered hardwood flooring, giving you more installation options.

Can Be Used on Most Subfloors

Nailing installation can also be used on most subfloors, including concrete, plywood, and above-grade particleboard. This makes it more versatile than glue installation.

Cheaper than Glue

The nailing installation option is also generally cheaper than the glue option since it requires less labor and special tools. 

Additionally, once the flooring planks have been nailed down, you can usually walk on them immediately, making them ready for use more quickly.

Easier to Replace

Finally, nailing installation for hardwood flooring is easier to replace single planks in the future if needed. 

This can be a great advantage if you want to update your flooring without completely tearing out and replacing all the planks.

The Disadvantages

More Labor Intensive

The main disadvantage of nailing installation for hardwood flooring is that it can be more labor-intensive than glue. 

In addition, it takes more time to ensure each plank is secure and level, which may add to the installation cost if you hire a professional installer.


Another disadvantage is that the nails can cause inconsistent gaps, splinters, and warping in the planks if not applied correctly. 

Again, this could be a potential problem if you’re planning to install engineered hardwood flooring since it must remain level and provide optimal performance.

Must Ensure All Joists Are Evenly Spaced

Finally, nailing installation requires that you ensure all joists are evenly spaced. 

This can be difficult if the flooring area is uneven or has been previously damaged by moisture or insects.

Risk of Water Damage

In addition, nailing installation can also be more prone to water damage from leaks or condensation since the nails penetrate the subfloor. 

This could lead to premature warping or cracking of the planks if not properly sealed and maintained over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best fastener for hardwood flooring? 

The fastener you should use for hardwood flooring depends on the type of flooring and the subfloor. Generally, nails are good for solid wood planks, while glue is better for engineered planks.

What size should nails be used for 3/4 inch hardwood flooring? 

For 3/4 inch hardwood flooring, you would typically use 1-1/2 inch nails. However, it’s always best to check with the flooring manufacturer to ensure that you use the right size and fastener.

Do you need underlayment to nail down hardwood? 

You typically need to use an underlayment when using the nail-down installation method. This is especially true for engineered hardwood flooring to provide extra cushioning and soundproofing.

Final Thoughts

Overall, installing hardwood flooring using either nailing or glue can provide your home with a secure and long-lasting flooring solution. 

Nailing installation is the traditional method for hardwood flooring. It provides a high level of stability, but it can be more labor-intensive than the gluing process. 

Glue installation does not require special tools or techniques. It is generally cheaper but mainly used with plywood or cement subfloors. 

Both methods have their own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s essential to consider your specific needs before deciding.

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