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Floating vs Glue down flooring

The evolution of Vinyl and whether to glue it down or do a floating floor.

My usual response to that question is why would you even want to glue it down?

I decided to do some of my own research on the subject and found out the following reasons for glueing products to the subfloor:

  • “We have always glued down our Vinyl floors and have never considered using a floating floor”

    Strata – floating flooring in a hair salon.

  • Another common argument for glueing the Vinyl to the subfloor over using a floating floor is that the Vinyl products themselves are subject to movement so the thinking is that they have to be anchored down somehow.
  • The third and final big reason is the fact that people simply just don’t like the idea of Vinyl flooring sitting on the subfloor.

The evolution of Vinyl has taken a large number of turns in the past 25-30. Sheet Vinyl was the norm everywhere. We all grew up on it one way or another. In more recent times the sheet Vinyl manufacturers aimed to achieve a more realistic timber look and moved their Vinyl productions to a plank shaped Vinyl product. This was made thin and glued down in a similar fashion to sheet Vinyl.

The next move was ‘Looselay’ Vinyl, i.e. a Vinyl that is thick and heavy enough that it was designed to simply sit on the floor, which ended up not being as successful. The reason for that is that Vinyl is thermoscopic, meaning it expands and contracts based on the temperature around it; ultimately leading to professionals recommending that it be glued down to avoid these shortfalls.

The latest technique involves putting the Vinyl wear layer on top of a substrate that isn’t subject to movement. The idea behind it being that it combines all the positive features of Vinyl and applies it to a waterproof substrate that can be simply clicked together, all while being heavy enough to sit flat on the floor and rigid enough to hold fast and not move.

There are now 2 variations of this, Stone Plastic Composite (SPC) and Wood Plastic Composite (WPC). SPC is more dense, making it much more durable but conversely much heavier, harder and noisier to walk on. WPC meanwhile is an aerated version of the same product giving it superior acoustic ratings while being much softer to walk on. WPC also has the ability for manufacturers to be able to use a heavier emboss pattern so it does have a more realistic look and feel, however this gives it a greater engineering input so the end product will typically be more expensive to buy.

Floating Multilayer SPC flooring as Herringbone.

Interestingly, now both SPC and WPC are available in a Herringbone composition and a tile composition. This further establishes these wonderful products in the market.

I did hear quite the interesting reference from a new homeowner recently. The salesperson at the flooring store had told them to “use Looselay and glue it down”, this way if you need to replace a plank you can rip it up and replace it as this would be easier to do than if the floor was in sheet Vinyl.
Surely, however, if it was floating floor it would be much easier to pull up by cutting out the old board and simply clicking the new one in, wouldn’t it? I think so, and obviously the trend of floating floors is really starting to gain traction in the market and it won’t be long before salespeople recommending Vinyl flooring to new homeowners will be advocating floating Vinyl floors to them and citing the benefits over glued down Looselay Vinyl sheets.

Words by L M Powell

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