Things to Know Before Installing Tongue and Groove Flooring


Most homeowners like the elegant look of hardwood floors. But, they are costly, and their installation is not easy. Therefore, homeowners choose tongue and groove wood flooring because it is a cost-effective method to get a wood-like appearance.

This article will cover the important things to know before installing tongue and groove flooring. It is a great option to upgrade dull and worn-out flooring into a unique, stylish, and elegant floor without spending too much time and money.

A Quick Overview – Things to Know Before Installation

  1. Tongue and groove flooring is a type of floating floor, which is a quick way of installation.
  2. Its installation method is easy and can be installed by a DIY route.
  3. Its cost is affected by the environment, options, and size.
  4. A good quality underlayment should be installed with a vapor barrier.
  5. Select high-quality materials and get durable flooring.

What is Tongue and Groove Flooring?

Before explaining Tongue and Groove Flooring, first, let’s understand glue down and the Floating-floor method.

Most floors can be installed by nailing or stapling them directly to the subfloor. This isn’t easy, but it provides a durable and strong surface. Gluing the planks directly to the subfloor is another method of installing floors.

It is very easy to glue down the tongue and groove planks to the subfloor, but it will be difficult to remove if you need to replace them anytime. Installing planks using the floating-floor method is the most comfortable and fastest floor installation method.

Tongue and Groove Laminate Flooring

In this technique, the planks are not joined with the subfloor by using glue. They are placed on the surface by connecting them.

An underlayment is placed under the floating floor. This method might not be as durable as gluing down the planks, but it is easy, less costly, and quick. Moreover, floors installed using this method can also be replaced.

Floating floors have different types; one of them is tongue and groove. A thin piece of material is attached to one end of each plank, known as a tongue. The other side of the plank has a slot, which is called a groove.

These planks are connected so that the tongue slides into the groove. In this way, the process of installation becomes handy and comfortable. You can adopt a DIY route to install tongue and groove planks.

Types of Tongue & Groove Flooring

Tongue and groove flooring is made of wood or a derivative of wood. It is divided into three types, which are described as follows.

Tongue and Groove Wood Flooring

Tongue and groove wood flooring is mostly found in old homes, basketball fields, and bowling passages. Each flooring plank is a solid wood strip of 5/8 or 3/4 inch thickness.

Both the prefinished and unfinished forms of wood flooring are solid. Unfinished flooring is installed first and then sanded to achieve a smooth surface. Lastly, the installer uses a finish on it.

Tongue and Groove Wood Flooring

Prefinished floorings are given a durable finish when manufactured in the factory and do not need a finish after installation.

While finishing the wood floor, a coat of wood stain is given to the floor to get a consistent color then several protective layers are applied to it, such as polyurethane coating.

Tongue and Groove Engineered Flooring

Tongue and groove engineered flooring resembles solid wood flooring, but its planks are made by gluing together many thin layers of plywood. The top layer of this flooring is prefinished.

Tongue and Groove Engineered Flooring

More applications and installation options are provided by engineered tongue and groove flooring compared to tongue and groove hardwood flooring

Tongue and Groove Laminate Flooring

A laminate flooring plank is created by pressing and gluing the fine wood particles. There is an image and protective layer on the top of each plank, which resembles solid wood flooring.

These planks are 8 – 12 mm thick and have tongue and groove

Tongue and Groove Flooring edges, which do not slide like the old-style tongue and groove seams. These edges lock into one another and can be installed without nailing or gluing.

The locking or click-together edges are also offered by tongue and groove engineered flooring.

Average Cost to Install Tongue and Groove Flooring

The cost to install prefinished hardwood flooring ranges from $13.39 to $18.95 per square foot. The conditions, options, and size affect the actual costs.

Tongue and Groove Flooring Prices – Notes and General Information

This cost information is for the basic work performed by the professionals using average-quality materials. More work performed by a master craftsperson, superior materials, and project management will cost more.

Before making any decision, a trustworthy professional must be contacted for precise calculation of the work required and the project’s price.

The following points are included in the price estimate;

  • The price of the materials.
  • Price of preparing a system to install hardwood flooring.
  • Installation of prefinished hardwood flooring includes the time of labor framework, gathering time, and charges per hour.

The following points are not included in the price estimate.

  • The prices of replacing, repairing, modifying, and removing flooring. Electrical or plumbing systems
  • Testing and sanitation of hazardous material.
  • General contractor costs and price increases for supervising and organizing the hardwood flooring installation.
  • Materials and supplies sales tax.
  • If your local building department requires inspection fees.

The thickness of Tongue and Groove Flooring Boards

The thickness of the tongue and groove boards is 18mm. Chipboard and plywood flooring come in thickness of 22mm.

Installation Method of Tongue and Groove Flooring

First, select whether you want to use engineered or solid hardwood before installing tongue and groove flooring—installing solid hardwood requires nailing down. In contrast, engineered hardwoods are glued down for installation.

Install Tongue and Groove Flooring

You can create a floating floor with engineered hardwood flooring, which is not fixed to the subfloor and can be installed easily by a DIY route.

Underlayment must be installed above the subfloor with a vapor barrier if you have selected a floating floor method. Underlayment protects the floor from moisture damage.

After picking the right materials, you can start your floor installation.

Step 1. Prepare the Room

To prepare the room, you should remove all the baseboards and doors to fit the new floorboards properly. If there is no attached underlayment with the flooring, you must buy a separate one.

Step 2. Draw a Guideline

To ensure you have placed the first row in a straight line, measure it and use chalk to mark it. Between the boards and the walls, leave a quarter-inch gap. So that the floor can contract and expand easily. Later, you will use a trim piece to cover this space.

Step 3. Lay the First Row

Start by laying the first row. Place a plank in the corner of the room by placing its tongue face towards the wall. Now place the next plank so that its groove slides into the tongue of the first plank.

Complete the first row by putting planks in this manner. After reaching the last plank, you might need to cut it. Measure the distance between the wall and the plank. Include the space for the expansion gap, and cut the plank according to the measurement.

Step 4. Adhere the Planks

Now check the alignment of the boards of the flooring. Depending on your flooring, you can nail it down or use glue to attach it to the subfloor. You should know how to nail the groove of the new planks into the subfloor.

Nails should not be visible on the floor. You can use any material to hide them. The edges of the planks used in the room border must be secured with nails.

You can avoid gaps in the hardwood by gluing the seams of your floating floor. If you are using glue, make sure the first row is set completely before starting the next row.

Step 5. Repeat the Process

Now lay the remaining rows by sliding the groove into the tongue firmly. You can use a hammer to attach them if you cannot do it. In this way, they will lock into each other.

A scraped piece of wood can also be used by placing it above the planks and tapping with a hammer. Do not tap them hardly; otherwise, they will break. After placing them firmly, if it is solid wood, attach it with glue, and if it is engineered wood, nail it.

After reaching the last plank of the last row, measure the remaining space and cut the plank. Maybe in the last row, you require long cuts of the planks to get a better fit. But don’t forget to leave the expansion gap.

Step 6. Paint and Brush

If the wood you are using is not of good quality, you can use stains and paints to finish it. If the nails are visible on the planks, cover them with wood putty. After drying the flooring, finish the process by fastening the trim.

You should pay careful attention to detail, time, and tools, to install tongue and groove flooring. A DIY route can do this process, but if you find installing it difficult, you can hire a professional to do it.

Let an expert do it if you want a proper installation.

Tips to Get a Smooth Installation

All Planks are Not Created Equally

Tongue and groove flooring are more cost-effective than other hardwood options, but there is a vast selection in cost. Flooring options below $1 are also available but are not so durable and you will need its replacement soon.

You can buy engineered hardwood flooring planks, which are not made of solid wood but are shaped to get a look of hardwood.

Clear the Area

It is a big task to install new flooring. You should remove everything from the area before starting the installation. When you have to shift the furniture from one room to the other, it could be stressful.

Working in the room while moving the furniture around is difficult. Floor installation will become much easier if you move the furniture to the other room at once. It would be best to move the decorations, such as photo frames, wall hangings, etc.

It is a good idea to pack these items and keep them safe because there will be dust and a high chance of damaging them during floor installation.

Don’t Forget Underlayment

Fastening to the subfloor is not required for floating floor or tongue and groove flooring. But, laying a floating floor without underlayment can create many problems. When you walk on such floors, they will bend and scrape.

You will not feel comfortable because the surface of the tongue and groove flooring hit the subfloor. However, an underlayment provides a pad that does not allow this.

An underlayment protects the flooring from damage by moisture. A concrete subfloor must protect the floor from moisture damage with underlayment. These are the most important tips for a basement floor installation because they do not withstand leaks.

Remove the Baseboards

Most experts find it difficult to cut the planks and put them on the wall. Baseboards are used for this purpose.

They are placed on the bottom of the wall. A few nails are used to fix baseboards to the wall. If you want to reinstall baseboards, pop them safely and keep them in a safe place.

Don’t Force it

The locking system of tongue and groove flooring is simple. You put the tongue edge into the grove, which is locked firmly. This locking seems difficult at the beginning. If you lock it at the right angle, it will break.

If you apply force to keep it in place, the tongue of the plank might break. So, a controlled pressure should be applied with an adjustable angle.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Do the Tongue and Groove Flooring Cost More?

Tongue and groove flooring are not costly and can be easily installed for $6 – $10 per square foot. Its installation is easy, so with a DIY method, you can save its installation cost also.

Can You Use Tongue and Groove for Flooring?

Tongue and groove can be used for flooring. This design of planks makes the installation of flooring easy.

What Is the Price of Tongue and Groove Flooring?

The price of the tongue and groove is determined by the material used. Usually, it costs around $6 – $10 per square foot. It is available in different wood species such as redwood, knotty pine, cedar, and clear pine.

Should You Nail the Tongue or Groove Flooring?

The plank should be placed so that its groove faces the wall. The tongue should be placed facing outwards. In this way, the tongue becomes accessible for nailing.

Is This Possible to Glue Tongue and Groove Flooring?

The tongue and groove flooring installed through the glue-down method is more durable. The planks are firmly fixed and not able to fall apart or break.

Final Thoughts

This article taught you the necessary things to know before installing tongue and groove flooring. The seams of this flooring are tight, requiring minimal gluing or nailing.

The unfinished flooring can achieve water resistance by giving it a protective layer. You can install it quickly, and its maintenance is easy, but you should protect it from moisture.

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