Glue Down vs Floating Vinyl Plank

Glue Down vs Floating Vinyl Plank

By Fortino Rosas / August 18, 2021 / 32 Comments

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    There are many reasons why you might choose vinyl for your flooring installation. It is great for high-traffic areas such as kitchens and laundry rooms. It is water-resistant and durable.

    However, there are many different types of vinyl flooring. You may find yourself weighing the benefits of glue down versus floating plank vinyl flooring.

    There are pros and cons of both types of flooring. It’s important that you take into consideration all of the features of each type of vinyl flooring before making your choice. So which is better, glue down or floating plank vinyl?

    In this guide, we’ll explore:

    Side-by-Side Comparison

    Glue DownFloating Vinyl Plank
    Make UpAttached to sub-floor via glue or adhesive tape"Floats" over top of sub-floor without glue or tape.
    DurabilityBetter option for high traffic areas that will have rolling trafficCould lift away from the sub-floor with rolling traffic since it's not adhered to the sub-floor
    ReplacementVery easy and pain-free to replace whole floor or a sectionEasy to replace, but slightly more complicated than glue down
    NoiseVery similar to floating vinyl plankVery similar to glue down
    RoomGood for bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms; better for larger roomsGood for bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms; not as good for larger rooms
    InstallationHarder to work with, so a professional may need to installVery easy to do as a DIY project
    CostAbout $1.70 per square foot, but may need professional installationAbout $2.99 per square foot, but could be a DIY installation project


    The first thing you need to understand is the makeup of each type of flooring. It’s important to know exactly what you’re getting when you’re buying either glue down or floating plank vinyl flooring. This is important so you know how you are going to install the floor in your home and what exactly it entails.

    Glue down flooring is considered a permanent type of flooring. It can withstand impacts, scratches and spills. This kind physically attaches to the sub-floor beneath it. It attaches by either a glue on the back of the floor or by double-faced acrylic tape.

    You can lay new flooring directly over top of this type of floor. It is smart to choose this floor type if you don’t plan on making a switch in floor type in the near future.

    Floating vinyl plank flooring simply lays over the sub-floor in a “floating” fashion. They don’t have any adhesive tape or glue on the back of them. This makes this type of flooring much easier to install. It can be a do-it-yourself project.

    So which one of the options is better for you, glue down or floating vinyl plank flooring? You can best answer that question by taking a look at the condition of your sub-floor.

    It isn’t recommended to install glue down flooring types on top of a high-moisture sub-floor. That includes a below-grade concrete pad, such as might be located in a basement. This type of sub-floor would be a good fit for a floating vinyl plank floor, instead.

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    The next thing to consider when deciding between glue down versus floating vinyl plank flooring is their durability. It is especially important in this regard to consider the room that your floor will be installed in. How will you use that room?

    Since a glue down floor will be physically adhered to the sub-floor, it will be firmly held into place. This makes it an ideal choice if there is going to be heavy traffic in the room.

    It is also a good choice if there will be any rolling traffic. That includes moving kitchen islands or even wheelchairs. The adhesive will keep the flooring in place and not lift away from the sub-floor.

    A floating vinyl plank floor, on the other hand, isn’t actually adhered to the sub-floor beneath it. It’s still a very durable type of flooring. But it might not be as good as a glue down version in the scenarios above. That’s because it would have a tendency to lift away from the sub-floor with this rolling traffic.

    As for cleaning, both types of flooring can be cleaned with a hard-floor friendly vac and a wet mop.

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    No matter which type of flooring you choose, you will have to replace it at some point in time. Hopefully, this won’t happen until after you have enjoyed many years with your flooring choice. However, when it comes time to replace the floor, which is easier and better, a glue down or floating vinyl plank floor?

    Glue down flooring allows for a seamless replacement. It is very easy to either replace the entire floor by laying a completely new floor on top of it or by replacing loose planks and tiles in a singular manner. It is a very simple and pain-free process to do.

    A floating vinyl plank floor is easy to replace, too, although it could be slightly more complicated than a glue down floor. That’s because each plank interlocks with another one. So if you have to replace a portion of the floor, you’ll have to remove each flooring tile or plank in the path of the section that you need to replace.

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    One thing that people may not consider when they’re making a choice of flooring type is how the flooring may affect the acoustics in the room. The fact remains, though, that your floor will either absorb noise or bounce noise off it, causing what’s known as an echo effect. So which is better for noise, glue down or floating vinyl plank flooring?

    Both of these types of vinyl flooring can be considered really good for the acoustics of a room. This is especially true when comparing them to other hard flooring choices, because they absorb noise more than the other options. Some types of these floorings also offer added acoustic backings to help with noise reduction even more.

    What is more of a determining factor when considering the acoustic effect of your floor is the shape that your sub-floor is in. If it is level and you are able to either adhere the flooring down over it, or lay the floating vinyl planks evenly, then your flooring will have a better outcome when it comes to noise reduction.

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    Another really important factor to consider when making a choice for flooring type is what room you’ll be installing the floor in. Some of the things you need to consider in this realm are foot traffic, moisture and warmth. So which is better, glue down or floating vinyl plank?

    Both types of flooring are great options for bathrooms, kitchen and laundry rooms. That’s because vinyl flooring is waterproof and very durable. These rooms in your house often have the most moisture and take the biggest pounding from not only feet but also laundry baskets, pots and pans and other items.

    One thing you may want to consider, though, is that larger rooms will have less joint stability with the click-lock installation of floating vinyl plank flooring. For this reason, it might be better to choose a glue down vinyl floor for larger rooms. The glue down option will actually adhere to the sub-floor, making it less likely that the floor will lift or have vulnerable seams in these larger rooms.

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    There is another important factor to consider when making your choice in vinyl flooring. That is how you will install it in your house. If you are hoping to save money by installing the floor yourself, you’ll want to know the steps before you start the project. So is there an advantage to choosing a glue down or floating vinyl plank floor in this regard?

    Floating vinyl plank flooring is meant to be very easy to install. It is almost the perfect fit for a person who enjoys DIY who wants to do the work themselves. The vinyl plank flooring is very easy to set and click together in a simple way.

    While you can put together glue down flooring on a DIY basis as well, it isn’t as easy as a floating vinyl plank. This is because it’s not as easy to handle and deal with the adhesive that this type of flooring requires. So if you don’t have experience in this arena, you may want to hire a professional who can install the floor the right way.

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    Compared to other types of flooring, vinyl floors are a very affordable type of flooring that you can install in your home. This is especially true when you are comparing the cost of vinyl flooring to hardwood or tile options. But is there a definitive difference between types of vinyl flooring such as glue down and floating vinyl plank?

    Overall, both types of flooring are on the more affordable end. While there is certainly a range of pricing that is available by manufacturer and also by the specific styles and features of the floor you choose, there isn’t too much of a difference in price between glue down or floating vinyl plank flooring.

    The glue down option is cheaper for just the flooring itself, with most options in the $1.70 per square foot range. Floating vinyl plank, on the other hand, is a little more expensive at around $2.99 per square foot.

    However, as we discussed earlier, the glue down option may require you to hire a professional to install, while the floating vinyl plank would be easier as a DIY project. So there could be some added cost for a glue down floor with an installation fee.

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    How to install floating vinyl plank flooring in a bathroom?

    First, you’ll need to remove the toilet from the floor. Then determine how you want your planks to look by positioning them on the floor before you install them. For fancy flooring such as herringbone patterns, you may need extra planks. Then you’ll need to prep your planks. Make sure you acclimate them before installation. 

    Install your first plank. If you’re starting against a wall, you may need to square your first board with the wall to prevent crooked installation. Vinyl floating floors come with interlocking mechanisms so you can simply snap the next plank into place against your first installed plank. You can use a rubber mallet to secure the planks into place if there are any gaps between them.

    How to clean floating vinyl plank flooring?

    The best way to clean floating vinyl plank flooring is to sweep away debris with a soft bristle broom and then wipe away stubborn dirt with a damp microfiber mop. 

    Don’t use harmful detergents on your floating vinyl floor. Use a natural disinfectant such as vinegar mixed with water to disinfect and clean your floors

    What is the average cost to install floating vinyl plank flooring?

    Glue down is cheaper for just the flooring itself, with most options in the $1.70 per square foot range while floating vinyl plank is a little more expensive at around $2.99 per square foot.

    Which is better: glue-down or floating floor?

    Most homeowners prefer floating floors because they’re thicker, more stable, and durable compared to glue-down options. Floating vinyl floors are also easier to install because they have interlocking mechanisms that you can clip together. 

    Floating floors are easier to replace than glue-down versions because you can easily lift them out without destroying your subfloor.

    The Verdict

    In sum, both glue down and floating vinyl plank are really solid flooring options for bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens, where it’s necessary to protect against heavy usage and moisture. The choice of what type of vinyl floor you choose for your home may come down simply to whether you plan on installing the floor yourself, or whether you plan on hiring a professional. Since the glue down flooring requires a glue or tape to adhere to the sub-floor, it is slightly more difficult to install yourself.

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    About Fortino Rosas

    Chief Floor Critic, 32 years of experience in flooring installation and sales

    Fortino Rosas is an independent flooring contractor with 32 years of experience in residential and commercial flooring installation and sales. He joined the Floor Critics team to share his expertise with our readers. Fortino has acquired vast knowledge and skills in the areas of product selection, space planning, and installation. He has installed flooring in residential, government, and commercial office projects in the Midwest. Visit Website.

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