Well since I'm waiting for an answer on my first hardwood floor question I might as well throw my second question out there too.

I’m face nailing my new hardwood flooring (Tasmanian Blackwood 19mm x 130mm) then puttying the knot holes and nail holes. This will be done through the whole house. The subfloor is Particle Board (Brand name: Yellow Tongue) that has been glued and screwed down.

Additional information: This is solid T&G timber flooring that was purchased direct from the saw miller. In the event nailing and gluing is recommended, there would be no moisture barrier.

My question:

Is there a benefit to ‘nail and gluing’ my hardwood flooring to the Particle Board subfloor or will this just interfere with the natural expansion and contraction of the hardwood?

  • There is no point to argue about ways to install hardwood flooring. The answer is always in the instructions which you need to follow so your guarantee for expensive flooring make sense.
    – user15129
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 21:08
  • To ease your mind... Do both. :)
    – user35901
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 23:07

3 Answers 3


You said the subfloor is particle board, so if there's some kind of isolation under that you don't need more barriers.

Attaching your floor to the subfloor depends on what kind of floor that is. If it's floating floor, it needs to float, so no gluing at all, and you need some kind of padding to level out the floor. Generally floating floors are tongue/groove or click install.

And if it's kind of parquet you have to glue it to the subfloor, because the grip of nails to particle board is very weak.


At 130 mm (5 inch), you're at the edge of the range for a nail only installation. Certainly most hardwood manufacturers recommend gluing for widths greater than this.

You may be able to get away without gluing, but if you're in a high moisture area, the floor boards may cup. Gluing would help mitigate this. Talk to the the manufacturer's rep for the appropriate installation in your area.

What I don't understand is why you would be face nailing the floor. T&G is typically installed using a special floor nailer which puts the nails in at an angle through the tongue, such that the nail is hidden in the groove of the next board. You should only need to face nail the final one or two courses of boards, where the nailer won't fit in against the wall. The savings in labour over face nailing and filling the holes is tremendous. In my experience, hardwood is HARD. Face nailing often requires drilling first, so the nail will actually penetrate the wood without bending.

Rent an air compressor and a floor nailer. With it, you will be able to do about 300 sq ft. a day (25 sq m). Without it, you'll be able to do half that or less.


Think of it this way - what other methods could you use? You have to somehow get the floor firmly attached to the subfloor, otherwise the seams between the planks will be loose and water gets in there and the floor is ruined in no time. So at least you have to glue it down and once you've done that nailing it will not make any real difference.

I've seen a lot of hardwood floors that have been glued down, usually to concrete, and they serve just fine for dozens of years under reasonable humidity. However I once saw hardwood exposed to water for a long time - it expanded so much that planks were torn off the concrete base and I'm sure that no nails would prevent that. That part needed serious repair.

Nailing hardwood floors is almost always useless, because if the glue is intact it will hold the planks but if it fails then nails won't help - stepping onto different parts of a plank that it not perfectly glued will make the plank bend slightly and pull the nails out and it gets loose over a course of month. If you want some metal fastening - at least use wood screws, they won't be pulled out.

  • 1
    "at least you have to glue it down" .... what? Nailed installations can be great, as can glued installations... but I'll let you guess which installation it easier to repair/replace boards...
    – Matthew
    Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 16:49
  • "Nailing hardwood floors is almost always useless" - why? The 100 year old hardwood floor in my house still works fine, except for a few creaks here and there. For a century, I'd say that's acceptable. This is the conventional way to install tongue and groove; these days people probably use pneumatic angle staplers a lot more often than nails, though, but basically the same idea.
    – jamietre
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 20:24
  • @jamietre: A few creaks? No, thank you. That's the number one reason why nails are uncool for floors.
    – sharptooth
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 7:28
  • Did you miss the "100 year old" part? While there's nothing that old that's been installed with construction adhesive to compare, I think it's safe to say that's a pretty good life expectancy, and you'd be hard pressed to find a floor that didn't need any maintenance in that time. Call me old fashioned but I'll take nails or staples over glue-down for the long haul any day.
    – jamietre
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 14:27
  • By the way I do want to add that context is everything: I was mostly responding to the notion that "nailing is almost always useless" since this is how the vast majority of floors have been installed since the dawn of time. There are lots of different materials, locations (indoor or outdoor, dry or damp, aboveground or on a slab, directly on joists or on a subfloor), and so on and lots of techniques. Nailing is certainly not always right - but it remains the a very common method for installing T&G and dismissing it entirely is like dismissing shingles as a roofing material.
    – jamietre
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 14:38

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