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How to Glue Down Hardwood Floors Method | Tools Adviser

How to Glue Down Hardwood Floors Method

Installing Hardwood Flooring

How to Glue Down Hardwood Floors Method

Do you know how to glue down hardwood floors? Glue down hardwood floors are amongst the first of their kind, but that doesn’t mean that they went obsolete with the passing of time.

On the contrary, many installers prefer to use glue down floors because they’re more stable and if the glue is good, you can avoid a lot of the problems that bug other flooring methods.

Let’s take a look at how to install hardwood flooring using this time-tested technique.

Tools and Accessories

  • Square notched trowel – Usually, a trowel with 1/4 inch sides is perfect for the job. You’ll use it to apply adhesive.
  • Plywood substrate sheets – We’ll use these over the subfloor concrete
  • Adhesive – There are a lot of great adhesives out there and some hardwood panels come with their own adhesive box. If you need to buy extra, Bostik’s Best Adhesive is a great choice.
  • Carpenter’s crayon – You will use this one a lot, so keep it handy! Every time you make a cut, you should first measure out the distance and mark it on the panel that’s about to get sacrificed, using the carpenter’s crayon. There’s really no room in guessing and approximation when it comes to laying hardwood floor and that’s even truer when we’re talking about the how to glue down hardwood floors.
  • Lace nails – Used to connect panels with the walls and the wall strips
  • Soft cloth – Used to clean adhesive during the flooring process and for the final clean-up. Make sure you don’t allow the adhesive to stack up and clean it quickly, otherwise you will have a hard time removing it and you will need mineral spirits and some harder sponge of sorts to get out the excess glue.
  • Rubber gloves – Trust me, you’ll want these handy (get it? Handy!) When working with adhesive and when you need to be fast with cleaning and securing new hardwood panels in place, the last thing you want to feel is your fingers merged up and incapable of separation due to you working with adhesive with your bare hands.
  • Circular saw – You can use a circular saw or jigsaw to “score” substrate sheets every 8 inches or so, in order to prevent the panels sitting on top of them to curl up. Must use guide rail to do the precise cut for hardwood.
  • Broom, dustpan – Keep your floor clean after every 2 rows or so. Don’t let the sawdust and wood stack up, because dust can get into the connective joints and mess up the adhesive and pieces of wood could end up under it, creating bumps in the floor later on.
  • Air Nailer –  You can use air nailer as well but that comes handy for hardwood flooring.

Cleaning is more important than ever, seeing how you’re dealing with a hardwood flooring method that requires everything to be squeaky clean before you install it.


One of the biggest issues related to installing hardwood flooring with the glue down method is surface preparation. Since you’ll be using the subfloor as a means to fix your hardwood one, it’s imperative that the sub floor’s surface is clean, dry and as smooth as possible.

You should clean it up properly before you start laying hardwood floor panels and make sure there are no oil or grease stains on it that can affect the adhesive quality of the glue you’ll be using.

In case your subfloor is not level and has major surface differences, you can use the cement-based material to patch them up and get them to equal terms.

You should also decide on what method you’ll be using throughout the flooring process: the Wet Lay or Walk On.

The Wet Lay requires you to place the adhesive on the substrate, then immediately place a panel on the wet adhesive. The Wet Lay requires you to wait a bit longer with placing the panel until the adhesive starts to become tacky.

There’s really no right or wrong way, it’s a matter of personal preference. The thing is, if you use the Wet Lay method, you can make small adjustments in a few minutes after installing the panel, so if you’re new to laying hardwood floor using the glue down method, you might want to speed things up and throw the panel in the adhesive before it tacks up.

On the other hand, the Walk On method requires more precision and confidence, but it also fixes up the panels better, because it won’t get the chance to smudge the adhesive all over since it’s already halfway through the solidifying process. This is usually the method of choice for more experienced do it yourself hardwood floor installers.

how to glue down hardwood floors

Installing Hardwood Flooring (Glue down Method) – Step by Step Instructions

  1. After making sure the surface is completely level and clean, place the substrate sheets on the ground and stretch them out properly. This is your last chance to check if the ground is level and has no lumps or stray rocks, so use it wisely.
  2. Warm up your adhesive to make it work-ready. You don’t need to heat it in the oven, just keeping it in a warmer room or near a radiator for a while will do. Whatever you do, just don’t let it out in the cold because you won’t be able to work with a colder adhesive.
  3. Use the trowel to get adhesive all over the starting corner. Apply it proportionally and manage your adhesive so that you have enough for the entire room. This is a common mistake with newcomers to the do it yourself hardwood flooring field: they use too much adhesive, thinking that more is better and the panels will be more secure this way. Although this may be true, they run out of the adhesive halfway through the installation process and lose precious work hours.
  4. Place the first hardwood panel on the fresh adhesive and secure it in place. If you used the Wet Lay method and the adhesive is still fresh, try not to move the panel around too much because you’ll smear the adhesive under it. If you use the Walk On method, make sure the panel is firm in place the second you install it, because sooner rather than later, you won’t be able to move it around anymore.
  5. Continue with the next few panels, until you have a row ready. On the last panel, you will most likely have to cut it to fit the shorter distance.
  6. Wedge the initial row to ensure that it’s firm and steady. This will be your foundation for the rest of the floor.
  7. After each panel is placed, use a soft cloth to clean up any adhesive that might have gotten into the surface. You need to do this quickly, as it will be harder to clean it up later.
  8. Continue with the next rows, using the cut panel from the first row to start the second, the last panel from the second row to start the third and so forth. This will create an alternating effect that is both visually appealing and healthy for the floor.
  9. If you notice that a specific area or panel is not flat, use weight to hold it down so it can properly connect with the ground floor.
  10. Clean up the mess and enjoy your great new floor!

Video Credit – ArmstrongFloors

Clean Up

If there are still spots of adhesive left on the surface of your floor after you’re done installing it, you can use a soft cloth and some mineral spirits to get it off properly. Mineral spirits will help you scrape the adhesive off the surface of the floor, but make sure they don’t stay on the panels too much themselves because they can damage their quality.

Special Tips

  • In some special cases, plywood substrate sheets are required.
  • In order to ensure that your hardwood floor won’t warp or curl too fast, you can score the substrate sheets when installing them.
  • Getting thicker substrate sheets can help you out with bigger surface level differences, but you should still not rely solely on them to get the job done. Try to patch or scrape your ground surface to the same level, before resorting to thicker substrate sheets.
  • Whenever you’re installing a new panel, roll it under and use your body weight, or some other weight source that doesn’t risk damaging the surface in order to provide perfect cohesion of your new hardwood floor with the ground.


Gluing down the hardwood floor is great for comfort, stability, and durability and it’s one of the few methods that managed to fix the annoying squeaking that many other types of hardwood flooring methods produce.

The only downside is that it’s very hard and messy to replace, so it’s best if you pick the right type of hardwood and install it carefully because there’s (almost) no turning back. Unless you want to call someone with a sledgehammer a circular saw and a crowbar to come in and make your room look like it was used to film a John Woo movie.


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