Installation

3 Glue Assist Methods That Keep Floors From Squeaking

3 Glue Assist Methods That Keep Floors From Squeaking

Needing to do a glue assist method for your wood floor installation? Watch our step by step guide that walks you through the tools and steps to do a successful glue assist installation.

One of the biggest complaints with a wood floor is squeaks, creaks, and noise. We compiled these resources for how to fix a creaky floor problem (see them all here). But, why not act to prevent wood floor squeaks in the first place.

The key fact to understand: movement causes squeaks. If you stop wood floor from moving, you will stop noise problems.

When flooring is nailed down, normal seasonal expansion and contraction of the boards can loosen the fasteners over time. Loose staples or cleats means loose boards which can produce noise. These problems, though not uncommon can mostly be avoided with adding a glue assist method.

We recommend a glue assist for every nailed down wood floor.

What is a glue assist method?
A glue assist simply means you are using adhesive to help the fasteners (cleats or staples) hold the flooring to the subfloor.

Using glue in addition to fasteners when nailing down flooring over a plywood subfloor will ensure the board is fully secured to the floor. We recommend glue assisting any solid flooring over 5″ wide, such as Real Wood Floor’s Storehouse Collection.
We recommend and encourage a glue assist for all nailed down floors, especially if you are nailing down a thin floor, a solid or engineered floor that is 5″ or wider, or one installed in an environment with moisture swings. These types of floors are more likely to have problems with squeaks.
Why should you use a glue assist?
We recommend and encourage a glue assist for all nailed down floors, especially if you are nailing down a thin floor, a solid or engineered floor that is 5″ or wider, or one installed in an environment with moisture swings. These types of floors are more likely to have problems with squeaks.

Three hardwood flooring samples comparing their thickness
We recommend using a glue assist method on any solid hardwood flooring over 5″ wide.

Is glue assist always required for wide plank floors?

While wide plank floors are incredibly popular in today’s homes, the reality is that these floors can be more prone to gaps. The wider the board, the more potential movement per board there could be across the floor. And as we’ve talked about, the more movement you see, the more squeaks you’ll hear.

Widths exceeding 4-inches have a greater distance between the tongue and groove across each individual board. The tongue-side of the board is held in place by staples or cleats. But, the groove-side is typically only held by the tongue of the adjacent board that fits inside of it.

As seasons and moisture conditions change, these wide boards will shrink and expand. This seasonal movement in the floor can over time cause fasteners to loosen the fit between the boards’ groove and the fastened adjacent tongue which holds it in place.

Decorated living room with wide width brown hardwood floors.
The wider the board, the more potential for movement across the floor.
Featured Floor – Silvian Nature

Characteristic results from movement, environmental, and width changes include:

  • Squeaks, creaks, and other “popping” sounds
  • Gaps or voids between flooring boards
  • Uneven and edge-peaked flooring
  • Boards coming loose as the staples or cleats lose their holding power

By adding glue in addition to staples or cleats creates more holding power across the full width of each board to help secure wide plank floors to the subfloor.

While changes in the environment or moisture levels can still affect the flooring, this method decreases the chance of movement which will help reduce squeaking, gaps, and loose boards.

3 Glue Assist Methods

There are several acceptable methods to use a glue assist, but it is very important to evaluate all site conditions in order to choose the best method.

Caution: a glue assist will not prevent a floor from moving when job site or home conditions fall outside the NWFA or manufacturer’s recommendations. Always follow the flooring and adhesive manufacturer’s instructions or NWFA installation guidelines when installing a wood floor.

Note for installations over a conditioned basement–

When air conditions can be properly maintained both above and below the floor, a glue assist can be used without a vapor retarder (underlayment). This is important because the adhesive will need to be in direct contact with the flooring and subfloor.

According to the NWFA, humidity levels above and below unfinished solid wide plank flooring should be kept between 30-50%. Additionally, the moisture content of wide plank flooring should be within 2% of the sub-flooring before installation.

If these conditions cannot be maintained (or if you are installing a floor over an unconditioned basement or crawl space) you need to take extra steps to address moisture issues. We recommend rolling on a moisture barrier prior to installing wood floor with a glue-assist method.

If those conditions can be met and maintained, the following glue assist methods can be used:

Option 1 (Serpentine pattern) – Good

Person spreading flooring adhesive in serpentine method
Remember: There should be 10″-12″ between the peaks of the adhesive.

One method to glue and nail wide plank flooring is to use glue in a serpentine pattern before nailing down the floor. For best results, keep 10″-12″ between peaks of the adhesive. Watch the steps for this method in the above video.

Use tubes of Urethane, modified Silane, or other recommended wood flooring adhesive. Apply a 1/8″ or greater bead of glue in a serpentine pattern on the back of the boards or on subfloor where the board will be placed.

The serpentine pattern should have approximately 10″-12″ between the peaks of the adhesive.

Follow the NWFA or Manufacturer’s recommended nailing schedule.

Option 2 (Trowel Perpendicular Glue Lines) – Best

Person spreading flooring adhesive with a trowel
With the Trowel Lines Method, it’s important to keep a 12″ gap between each section of adhesive.

Trowel adhesive before nailing down the floor to keep it from squeaking. For best results, keep a 12″ gap between each section. Use a urethane, modified silane, or other recommended wood flooring adhesive bucket and the correct trowel. Pull straight glue lines on the subfloor that are perpendicular to the flooring boards.

Leave no more than a 12″ gap between each section of troweled out adhesive.

Follow the NWFA or Manufacturer’s recommended nailing schedule.

Option 3 (Full Trowel Gluing) – Best

The best method to prevent squeaks – do a full trowel glue assist. Keep reading to find out how to do this method.

Use a urethane, modified silane, or other recommended wood flooring adhesive bucket and the correct trowel. Spread glue over the entire subfloor in accordance with the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions. Follow the NWFA or Manufacturer’s recommended nailing schedule.

While some consider this an extreme option, it is reasonable to use when moisture conditions around the floor have greater changes. It also is a great way to glue and nail wide plank flooring, especially when the boards are over 5″ wide.

This is especially useful in places that have large seasonal changes in temperature and humidity. Additionally, a glue assist is great for floors that are installed over unconditioned spaces or on old subfloors that are more likely to move.

Can using a glue assist method save your business?

By far the majority of complaints we address are related to moisture and movement.

Excess moisture and overly dry conditions lead to movement in wood flooring and headaches for the homeowner:

  • Squeaky, creaky, and noisy floors that homeowners can’t stand
  • Unsightly gaps or cracks between flooring boards that stick out like a sore thumb
  • Uneven and edge-peaked flooring
  • Loose boards that have to be replaced
  • All of these symptoms are job site related. No flooring manufacturer warranties their flooring for these job site related environmental issues.
Hardwoods being installed with flooring adhesive
While a glue assist will increase material costs and installation time, it gives you added peace of mind.

Using a proper glue assist method, along with maintaining appropriate conditions in the home, greatly reduces the chance of these issues calling you back for costly repairs. By using the best installation practices and educating your customers, you can set your business apart, get meaningful referrals, and reduce your time fixing problems.

Using a glue assist will add to the material cost and installation time for your jobs. However, the added peace of mind is more than worth it for you and your customer. We recommend building the material cost into your bid and using a glue assist on every job.

Take the time to educate the customer of its importance and how it can save them from the problems described above. By doing this, you should have little argument in getting the additional cost covered on the labor and materials for this added insurance and peace of mind.

Need to find the materials for a glue assist hardwood installation?

We can help! From the flooring to the glue and nailer, we are your go-to supplier with everything you need for a glue assist. Call any of our RW Supply+Design locations to get a quote today!