Click or Glue-Down Vinyl Flooring: What's right for me?

You may have noticed that vinyl flooring is mainly made in two constructions, click or glue-down. Which one makes the most sense for your project?

At a significantly lower cost, the glue-down construction is a great option for many applications, but it does require a better-prepared subfloor and is generally only recommended if you are hiring a professional installer. 

Let’s get into some details:

Summary

Order click if:

  • You plan to install the floor yourself, or are hiring an installer who is not familiar with full-trowel glue-down installation
  • You prefer a floating floor so that you can easily remove planks in the future for repair or re-installation
  • You need underlayment for sound control and do not want to deal with gluing down a separate underlayment
  • You prefer the softer feel of having an underlayment
  • Your subfloor has leftover residue from a previous adhesive, and you do not want to deal with removing this residue prior to installation. With the glue-down floor, if you are removing a previous floor that was glued down, you will also need to remove all of the adhesive from the subfloor
  • You want to install on top of an existing floor covering and do not want to go down to the subfloor (most adhesives require you glue-down directly to the subfloor)

Order glue-down if:

  • You plan to hire a professional flooring installer who is familiar with full-trowel glue-down installation. We do not recommend you attempt to install a glue-down floor as a DIY project
  • You have a flat subfloor that is clean of previous adhesive residue
  • You have a subfloor that is very flat
  • You do not need underlayment or are okay with the extra cost of gluing down an underlayment
  • You prefer the solid feel of a glue-down floor

As you can see, the click floor is much more forgiving in terms of installation requirements. For this convenience, you do pay a cost relative to glue-down, but for many customers, this cost is outweighed by the cost of having to do extensive subfloor prep or hiring a professional installer. If you know your subfloor will be in perfect condition and are planning to hire a professional installer, a glue-down floor will save you on cost.

In-Depth Analysis

Let’s start with a comparison of specifications. In general, the main differences between click and glue-down vinyl flooring are the total product thickness and pre-attached underlayment. Once installed, neither of these two features are visible so from a visual perspective and a surface performance perspective, the two constructions are identical.

Next, let’s look at the product cost. Most customers are concerned that the cost of adhesive will add substantially to their install cost. This may come from experience with porcelain tile or hardwood floors, where the cost of adhesive alone can run up to $2 / SF. Common adhesives recommended for glue-down LVP flooring can cost as little as $0.10 / SF and average $0.25 / SF. This is due to the much higher spread-rate possible with vinyl plank flooring.

At this point, you might be asking yourself why someone would pay more for a click floor. Let’s discuss some of the reasons.

Cost of Hiring an Installer

So far, we have ignored the cost of a professional flooring installer but, of course, this will be a major consideration. We do not recommend that homeowners attempt installing a glue-down floor as a DIY project (more on this later).

Most professional, licensed flooring installers who are familiar with a full-trowel glue-down installation will charge $2-$3 / SF for their services. On the other hand, a click floor may be installed by anyone who is relatively handy, including general contractors, a handyman, or yourself. With that said, while the Modin Collection is designed to be a DIY friendly floor, there are many aspects to a flooring installation that go beyond merely clicking the planks together, including:

  • Subfloor prep, including leveling and moisture sealing
  • Baseboard removal and installation
  • Undercutting or reinstalling doors and door jambs
  • Stair installation
  • Transitions and moldings
  • Squaring the room and the overall install to ensure that your floor is square with your walls and hallways and doesn't appear crooked

For these reasons, many of our customers prefer the quality of workmanship that comes with a professional installer and plan on hiring one. If that is the case, then the difference in cost between hiring an installer who is familiar with full-trowel glue and one who is not may not be relevant.

Subfloor Prep

Poor subfloor prep is the number one reason for failure with a glue-down floor.

While both click and glue-down floors require a flat subfloor (no more than 3/16” variation over 10 ft), the click floor can go over virtually any subfloor material. This includes existing hard surface floors (no carpet), plywood and any kind of plywood alternative, and various types of concrete. With the glue-down construction, on the other hand, the subfloor requirements are much more strict and will vary by the adhesive manufacturer. It is also worth noting that while both click and glue-down floors need a flat subfloor, an uneven subfloor may have more noticeable effects on a glue-down floor. Because there is no click mechanism, raised edges and corners can result. 

As a rule, however, the floor must glue down to a concrete slab or plywood, and there must not be any residue from a previous adhesive. For example, if you are removing an old linoleum or sheet vinyl floor, or a previously glue-down hardwood floor, you will also need to remove the adhesive residue that’s left on the subfloor. This removal is sometimes as easy as using a scraper or can involve fully grinding down concrete. With a click floor, so long as the subfloor is still flat, you can just float right on top.

Sound Control

If sound control is a requirement and you need an additional underlayment to meet your sound control target, a click floating floor will be your best option.

While it is possible to double-glue an underlayment down with a glue-down floor, this calls for an extra application of glue and, of course, the cost of the underlayment. Once you include the cost of labor for gluing the underlayment down, it is highly unlikely you will have beaten the price of our click floor, which already comes with a pre-attached underlayment.

Bottom Line

As a rule, in ideal conditions, glue-down flooring is a good option. It can have a more solid feel and, for a professional installer, can actually result in an easier and faster install since there is no fussing with interlocking the click mechanism in tight spaces. If you have a perfect subfloor and a professional installer (or are very handy and can follow directions), it offers all the benefits of a click floor at a significant discount.

But if you are tackling this as a DIY project, are installing on a subfloor with adhesive residue or existing flooring, or need an underlayment, a click floor (like the Modin Collection) is your best option in both residential and commercial installations. 

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!