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Commercial Flooring News

Tongue & Groove Flooring Is Still Groovy

Tongue and groove flooring has been around for well over 100 years(some say centuries) and it is still strong today. It may be very interesting that a very ancient technique is still being used every day in flooring projects. Although the traditional tongue and groove has a more modern competitor from a click tongue and groove which doesn’t require nails or a glue down installation process the “old school” tongue and groove is still most often used in hardwood flooring. ¾” Solid hardwood flooring especially is dominated by traditional tongue and groove construction. Engineered hardwood flooring is also very much impacted by traditional tongue and groove edges on the floors. Why is this still being used so often? There are 2 primary reasons why:

i. The first reason is simple: cost is lower to make a traditional tongue and groove vs. using a click system due to the patent costs of Valige and Flooring Industries. (aka unilin) Those patents cost billions per year to the end consumer so there is a real cost. There is no doubt the patent holders would argue there is real value associated with that cost which is validated by it’s massive adoption throughout the flooring category. (e.g. – laminate flooring only uses click systems now – there are virtually no tongue and groove laminate floors.)

ii. The second reason is tongue and groove is undeniably more flexible in it’s installation options that other floors. The mechanical click system is generally much more limited than the tongue and groove. Although there are exceptions most often click floors are installed using a floating system. Whereas a tongue and groove floor can be nailed or stapled down over a wood subfloor, glued down over a concrete floor (if it is engineered wood) or even just glued in the tongue and groove and floated in some cases for engineered wood floors. Before the naysayers start jumping up and down there are standard tongue and groove floors that should only be nailed down. For example ¾” solid hardwood is designed to be nailed down at an angle to hide the nails over a wood subfloor. You cannot float this type of floor using glue in the tongue and groove and 99% of the time you should not full spread glue this floor either. However, in general, tongue and groove floors are in fact flexible, especially in engineered hardwood giving the installer more options.

So it really may be true that there is no school like the old school when it comes to tongue and groove flooring. This tried and true system has worked for decades and remains as groovy as ever.