The Sticky Subject of Choosing the Right Glue for Installing Your Engineered Floor

So you’ve decided to install your new engineered floor yourself. You’ve got your kneepads, your saws, pencil, tape measure, a few other accessories and a whole lot of gusto. You’ve decided to go with a glue-down installation. Now the question is, what kind of glue do you use?

After making the complicated choices of choosing the right type of wood, both for looks and structural integrity, thenĀ  choosing the appropriate installation method for your floor’s location, glue choice seems like a minor no-brainer. However, there are important things to consider when choosing glue.

First off, are you installing in a location where you have any worries about moisture content? If you have any concerns, it’s best to choose a glue that acts as a vapor barrier as well as an adhesive. It will take a slightly larger chunk out of the pocket book, but it beats having mechanical failures due to moisture down the road. (For those of you skipping over this section, stay tuned for the upcoming post “Board Replacements and You: Why oh Why Didn’t I Just Spring for the Vapor Barrier Glue?”)

Additionally, make sure the glue you’re buying has a guarantee in place. More than this, check to see if the manufacturer of the glue guarantees that their glue will work with the product you are installing. If you’re not installing your floor yourself, check with your installer as well about adhesives. Installers might be prone to stick with adhesives they’ve had luck with in the past, but this might be the time that things don’t jive, and you’ll be the one holding the ball after things go haywire. So be sure and check with the adhesive manufacturer and make sure your installer is on the same page with your findings.

Some other points: Make sure the glue stays on the bottom of the board. Don’t let it creep into the joints, as that will kill your tight fit. Also have solvents on hand for when you get that sticky stuff on yourself. We want you to become attached to your floor, but…

Finally, check your glue for which size/type of trowel it recommends, and also check its dry time, which should both be written on the container. You may have downed a quadruple hazelnut latte prior to getting rolling, but you’re probably not going to cover 3,000 sf in an hour. Although YouTube it if you do, because that would amazing.

Stopping short of diving into the full subject of installation, these are some of the important aspects to remember about glue for your engineered hardwood flooring project. Good luck on your journey into the magical world of adhesives!

Here are a few popular adhesive brands to check out:

Bostik Best (PDF! Not too hefty on the load time, but just FYI it’ll take a second to load.)

BST Urethane (ditto)

Franklin 811 Titebond

Engineered Flooring vs. Laminate Flooring

There is occasionally some confusion as to whether engineered flooring is real wood flooring or not. For the record, engineered flooring is real wood flooring, a composite of plywood and the veneer species. To recap, the plywood plies are stacked perpendicularly to one another and attached to the underside of the veneer species. This construction compensates for swelling and contraction of wood, and also allows engineered flooring to be installed more places and also so it can be installed utilizing the floating method.

So as we’ve established that it is indeed real wood, let’s talk about the differences between engineered hardwood flooring and laminate flooring. Laminate flooring was invented in 1977 by Pergo, a Swedish company. It can resemble a wide variety of materials, including hardwood and marble, to name a few. It is generally easier to maintain, less susceptible to moisture damage, more dent resistant than hardwood, and can also be floated.

For more information on Laminate flooring, you can check out the Wikipedia article, although, as the warning at the top of the page states, the article is fairly biased. It is obviously written by a laminate dealer or installer, particularly because while it touts all of laminates postive traits, it markedly neglects to mention that laminate is basically a photograph of wood or whatever the target material is (they refer to it as an “decorative applique”, which is oh-so-pretty and French) placed beneath an aluminum oxide finish. (To the article’s credit, there is mention of how the melamine resin that makes up the base material of the laminate can cause health problems as it is compound made with formaldahyde. Yikes.)

But the fact remains: Photoshop flooring, people. It is substantially cheaper, yes, but then, so is a print of the Mona Lisa versus the genuine article.

This is not to say laminate doesn’t make great flooring; it does, especially for those with young children and animals that put floors through quite a bit of abuse. Board replacements will be cheaper, and you will be getting a beautiful floor with many of the qualities of hardwood flooring; laminate will reflect light to create a more expansive feel for a room as well as giving it a cleaner appearance. It also has a leg up on carpet as it doesn’t retain pet dander, dust, and mold, making it a more hypoallergenic flooring option. (Providing the volatile organic compounds released from the formaldehyde binding process don’t compromise your indoor air quality. But I digress.)

So there you have it, a tidy comparison of laminate flooring and engineered flooring.

What are your thoughts about the two flooring formats?