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Free-Floating, No-Glue Flooring, the Do-It-Yourself Dream

Posted: 01 JUL 2002

For many years do-it-yourselfers struggled with various installation methods, all for the sake of having a beautiful, durable hardwood floor. They tried nail-down, staple-down, glue-down and glue-together methods. Some may have gotten the result they were looking for, while others may have given up and had a professional finish (or redo) the job. But in either case, it is certain that many of them ended up with a lot of extra expense, stress and damaged planks – and probably a few damaged fingers in the process.

Fortunately, there is now a much simpler and much faster way to install hardwood flooring. The method was first introduced at the onset of the laminate flooring trend and was an instant hit with the do-it-yourselfers. Often referred to as the "click-together" method, the no-glue concept offered two important benefits. First, there was the ease of installation, and secondly, there was the lower total cost. There was no need for special equipment, no need for nails or staples, and no need for messy adhesives. All that was needed was a tape measure and a few common hand tools.

Another important feature of the free-floating, no-glue installation method is its dimensional stability. As weather conditions change, all wood flooring expands and contracts. Under extreme changes, planking secured to a subsurface could buckle and separate. But because a free-floating floor is not permanently attached to the subsurface, and its individual planks are not permanently attached to each other, it is free to move. It expands and contracts as a unit, and as long as the proper expansion space was provided during installation, no damage occurs. To learn more about the different flooring installation methods, read "Wood Flooring Installation Methods."

As more do-it-yourselfers began buying laminate at the home improvement stores, it was clear that they were tired of hardwood installation hassles. They were willing to trade the look of real wood for the easy installation of the new wood-like flooring products. It didn’t take long before hardwood manufacturers recognized the need to design new products for free-floating, no-glue installation. The result was engineered hardwood products constructed just like laminate.

There are many manufacturers of engineered hardwood flooring. Some of them offer free-float, no-glue product lines, and some do not. One that does, and offers a very reasonably-priced no-glue product is Barlinek. Their system is appropriately called Barclick, and it is one of the better quality systems. You can read more about Barlinek in our article "Barlinek: Replenishing Hardwood Forests."

The installation process itself is fairly standard among manufacturers. All manufacturers recommend certain pre-installation steps, with respect to subsurface preparation and acclimation of the flooring material. The actual installation steps are also fairly standard.

The first plank is placed with its long groove edge parallel to a long wall, assuring an expansion space of 1/2" to 3/8" between the plank and the wall. Additional planks are then clicked together with a hammer and tapping block, while maintaining the expansion space around the room perimeter. This process continues until it is time for the last row to be installed. The last row of planking is cut to fit, making sure to allow for the expansion space, and then the planks are set in place and secured with a pull bar tapped with a hammer.

That’s all there is to it. No mess, no fuss, little waste, and a lot less risk of damaging fingers.