Floor Talk With Wayne Highlander

Gluing Down on Concrete

When it comes to gluing down floors over concrete, preparation beforehand makes for a more efficient installation. I recommend having a separate set of installation tools dedicated for just this purpose. Here is a little list of the things I think are the most important:

  • Straps – Blue Crain straps are very efficient and help keep the floor tight. I use one every three feet or so, and I find they are especially useful if you’re working alone.
  • Persuader – A big heavy mallet with a white rubber end is great for tightening up a stubborn floor.
  • An Extra Trowel – I recommend this for a few reasons. First, you might have an extra person show up and this way you can put them to work. Second, the trowel is a measuring device, and gets worn down as it is scraped against the concrete all day, changing the amount of glue used. Be sure to change out your trowels. Additionally, if you tape your trowel with blue tape to expose only the notches, it is much easier to clean up at the end of the day.
  • Five Gallon Buckets – These work great, particularly when you’re working alone. In order to weight down the floor, you can also use boxes of wood flooring, sandbags, or even free weights. However, I prefer to use the buckets, filled ¾ of the way with water. The handle makes them easy to carry and they don’t take up much storage space.
  • Pre-made Wedges – These are easy and fast to make, and essential for tightening the floors at the walls.
  • Crain Spacers – Use these for the first rows so you can leave the necessary expansion space, and push against them to tighten up the rows and stay on line.
  • Epoxy Kits – You want to be the one to discover any possible hollow spots before the homeowner, and be able to repair it. 3M and Bostik make great kits, and you should be able to pick a place in the grain to make the repair undetectable.
  • Double-Sided Tape – Use this on short blocks in a line, so you can push the first three rows against them and keep the boards tight and the rows straight.
  • Template Paper – You can make templates for difficult areas, like inside of a staircase wall, so you can mark it first, cut all the boards at one time, and simply drop them in.
  • Powernail 500 – I don’t leave home without it.
  • Paint Buster Hand Cleaner (3M) – Somehow, the glue always ends up all over your hands, and it’s important to keep them clean. I know a floor guy with a new stainless steel refrigerator in his garage, and it’s not there because he wanted it. He keeps it backwards, so he’s not reminded of the smudges of handprints on the front…

These are just a few tricks for installing a glue-down floor. Be sure to protect the carpet and tile with plastics. In the end, it is better and more efficient to install slower and keep the floor clean from adhesive than to go faster and deal with missed areas later.