Carpet Roll

December 23, 2019

Vinyl flooring installation methods: glued versus floating

When it comes to selecting the perfect flooring for your home, the installation and application process is equally as important as style and design.

The success of your next flooring renovation project or home upgrade can solely depend on the installation method chosen. 

Based on the application, choosing the incorrect installation method can have a huge impact on the longevity and integrity of your floor type, especially Luxury Vinyl.


So if you’re going to spend thousands of dollars on a new floor type, it’s best you get it right.

There are two methods of installation when it comes to Luxury Vinyl Tiles / Planks: Glue Down and Floating. 

Each method has its own set of benefits making it a more suitable method for certain industries, environments and your overall approach to your project.

To ensure you don’t end up with a brand new floor that starts to break down in a few years time, we’ll explain how each method works and the comparable qualities of glue down vs floating installation.

What is Glue Down Vinyl Installation?

This method of installation involves using adhesives to glue down the dry-back luxury vinyl to its base. Using this method allows for greater dimensional stability to ensure the flooring maintains its natural qualities. Glue down installation uses two types of adhesives:

  • Hard set: To give you a better idea, think of the adhesives used when installing broadloom carpet. An adhesive is applied along the subfloor to hold the vinyl flooring firmly in place. Most suitable applications include healthcare facilities and retail spaces, which experience heavy foot traffic, wheelchairs and shopping trolleys. Its main benefit is being able to absorb heavy point loads sustained from furniture and fixtures, without leaving behind and indent.
  • Pressure-sensitive: This type of adhesive is more commonly used for its versatility and the fact that it’s much easier to replace. Pressure-sensitive adhesives are most suitable for retail and hospitality spaces, where there tends to be a frequent change of flooring in shop fit-outs. 


What is Floating Vinyl Installation?

There are two types of floating vinyl installations: loose lay vinyl and click vinyl flooring. The term ‘floating’ is derived from the fact that this type of flooring requires little to no adhesives and can be either installed directly over the subfloor or using a cushion barrier system.

Despite being the go-to installation method 10-15 years ago, it still remains as one of the most popular methods of vinyl installation.

  • Loose lay vinyl: As the name suggests, loose lay vinyl is simply installed over the top of a subfloor. This floating flooring option is great for those who are looking for a quick install with a beautiful finish. Installation steps may vary between products, manufacturers and installer, but will typically involve planks/tiles glued down around the perimeter first before the rest is then laid loosely.
  • Click vinyl: Has become extremely popular in both commercial and residential areas for being easy to install. Simply click and snap vinyl planks or tiles into place using a click-lock system which has been integrated into the flooring product.


Thanks to modern advancements in vinyl flooring technology, such as moisture resistance and UV stability, floating vinyl has regained its popularity in recent years. It’s also much easier to install and replace, best of all it does not require the use of adhesives.


Which installation method is suited for commercial spaces?

It all depends on how much foot traffic there is. Most commercial applications, such as retail spaces, healthcare facilities, restaurants and offices tend to have heavier foot traffic than normal.

In this instance, they would benefit more from vinyl flooring that has been glued down since the glue provides additional support in keeping the floor in place. 

This is not to say floating flooring is not ideal, as it may be easier to install loose lay vinyl or click vinyl and can be more practical for certain commercial settings where foot traffic is not as heavy. 

Another factor driving the decision is that glue down flooring is usually covered by a commercial warranty, while floating flooring may be limited. 


Which installation method is easier to replace?

When it comes to replacing luxury vinyl tiles or planks, the glue-down method is a better choice. Tiles and planks can be simply removed with minimal effort and replaced whenever needed, which is especially handy in heavy traffic environments such as retail or hospitality.

Floating installations can be a little trickier if you’re using click vinyl. The locking system relies on installing click vinyl in a particular fashion because of the way pieces lock together. This means you might have to remove each row of flooring in a section to replace a tile or plank. 

However, loose lay flooring has no issues at all and is relatively easy to replace worn or damaged tiles whenever needed.


Which method is easier to clean and maintain?

When it comes to cleaning and maintenance, there is no real clear winner with both methods involving the same two-bucket system. Regular sweep and vacuum is one of the most effective ways of cleaning luxury vinyl flooring. 

However, we always recommend reading the manufacturers manual or speaking to a professional for best practices.


Subfloor considerations

Understanding the type of subfloor required for each installation method is essential when it comes to choosing your floor type. All flooring types typically work well with concrete subfloors, though you’ll need to consider moisture levels and exposure to moisture as this will have a large impact on flooring choices.

Overall, when it comes to deciding between the two installation method, it really depends on the application. If you know there’s going to be a significant amount of heavy foot traffic then opt for hard set glue down luxury vinyl. If it’s an ever-changing retail space then floating installation using loose lay vinyl is going to be a better choice.

If you’re still unsure, contact Jupps Floor Coverings today for expert advice on what is the best installation method most suited to your commercial space.