Can I nail laminate flooring down to the subfloor?

Since laminate flooring looks so much like hardwood flooring, you may wonder if the installation process is to nail laminate flooring down to the subfloor. Since laminate flooring is a floating floor, it is not meant to be attached to the subfloor by nails or glue.  The floor needs to be able to expand and contract with temperature changes and therefore must freely lay on the underlayment or subfloor.  Nailing the laminate flooring down would also leave marks on the flooring that would be very unappealing to the eyes.

Why You Shouldn’t Nail 

Nailing laminate planks down will cause damage that will not only make the floor useless, but also void your warranty. The proper way to install laminate flooring is to use the tongue and groove locking system to click planks together, creating a smooth and seamless floating surface.

Laminate flooring installs with a click and lock system.

How To Float Laminate Flooring

Remember to decide what underlayment is right for your project – the underlayment is what will allow your flooring to float. The right underlayment is key to a successful installation. Laminate flooring is meant to float, and the right underlayment will give it stability and strength.

How to choose laminate flooring underlayment - can i nail laminate flooring

Do you have any questions we can answer? Please post them in a comments area below this article. We will be happy to help.

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  1. Alana Kane

    Hi Ray, it sounds like there are a few things that could have aided in this. Definitely a flooded subfloor will be a problem. The vapor barrier could have protected the flooring here for sure. Also, extensive humidity without expansion will also cause buckling. Any type of excess humidity in the room can cause the floors to expand.

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    I recently did some flooring for a friend and when they went to pick up the laminate tile, free-floating. I told him I need vapor barrier because of where we live. When December came the rains came, all they got me for the floor was just the 1/8 inch padding. Where I live rain humidity is very common, the floor started to Bubble and I know not to nail it. I did end up nailing it, just please my friend, but he knew the vapor barrier he didn’t get it, and he didn’t tell me about under the subfloor being flooded. Heat in the house wet under the floor, without that vapor barrier that’s the reason why the floor started to Bubble?

  3. Alana Kane

    Hi Mike, thanks for the question. Adding the nail can prevent the floor from floating naturally. It’s hard to tell how big of a problem it could be. I’d recommend keeping your temperature and relative humidity consistent and you should be fine. If you have big fluctuations, then you could see some major issues with buckling/damage not being able to float.

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    I had some luxury vinyl floor with pad on back of plank. Lock n snap. The installer put one small nail in each plank around the edge l. Will this be a problem. Central air and heat. Vapor barrier on ground in crawl space. And 36 inches of ground is low spot. Also blocked in crawl space.

  5. Alana Kane

    Hi Ed, thanks for the question. Sorry to hear about installation mishap. I do not have any tips or tricks for you, other than a nail puller to get the nails out. I am assuming they are small nails – there are plenty of nail pulling tools to choose from depending on what your nail situation is. If you have any extra boxes of flooring, you can always reinstall the outside edges if there is any damage. Once you remove the nails, just be sure you have an expansion gap of .25″ around the perimeter! Hope this helps. Best of luck!

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    Hello and Happy New Year 2020. A few years ago, I had a friend of a friend install laminate flooring and recently the flooring started to warp in the middle of the room. Another contractor came to check it out, and noticed the friend nailed the edges of the laminate flooring throughout the entire room, and therefore there is no “float”. Any advice how to remove the nails without having to damage the laminate floor. Are there any special nail removing devices that I you can recommend?

    Your help is appreciated.

  7. Alana Kane

    Hi Erik, thanks for the question. Are you installing laminate or engineered hardwood? I am not sure what you are referring to as an engineered laminate. Regardless, if you are doing a floating floor, you will need a gap around the edges. Unfortunately, a baseboard or some type of molding will be necessary unless they want the gaps to be seen. I would recommend them to look into an SPC or WPC vinyl in this situation. Also, the possibility of gluing it down if the space is very large. Any type of moisture or water can affect a laminate floor. A vinyl will be spill proof. Feel free to give us a call if you have more question: 800-520-0961

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    My client is wanting me to install an engineered laminated wood floor in a restaurant. The surface is quite big and they don’t want any kind of baseboard on the walls. Also, we have a terrazzo bar right at the center that has a brass strip separating the laminate floor and the terrazzo. We are doing a gap between the laminate floor and the brass strip as small as possible. Is this a cocktail for a disaster or am I being paranoid? Thanks!

  9. Alana Kane

    Hi Michael, great question! A laminate on the floor needs the ability to float and move as one piece together. To put it on the wall, you need to secure it in some way. Since it will not experience daily usage of being walked on and typically it will be a small area, it will have less potential for any issues at the joints and large movements. It may expand and contract slightly, but with it being secure, should stay put.

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    Michael Mitchell

    I have seen videos installing laminate flooring on a wall with glue and nails , why is this ok for wall and not for a floor

  11. Alana Kane

    Hi Mickie, thanks for the question. Yes, gaps can happen when temperatures fluctuate. I’m thinking the biggest cause for this is the dryness in the air – if you’re having your heat on consistently. If you’re finding this all over, you may want to consider getting a humidifier to add moisture back into the air. Your floors should expand back with the change.

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    Our laminate floors have gaps all over and I am assuming in the winter time they shrink causing the gaps to occur? Help…it is annoying and it happens all over our flooring.

  13. Alana Kane

    Hi Nolan, thanks for your question. Since laminate is a floating floor, we do not recommend nailing the planks down. Unfortunately when there is water damage, the only way to truly fix the issue is to install new planks. If you have any other questions, please let us know!

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    My sink filter froze and busted while I was away ( the water leaked for about a day), the floor laminates were wet but they look dry now but popping up, I was thinking of nailing them with very thin nails ( I tested them and look invisible), is there any problem with that? Thank you.


  15. Alana Kane

    Hi Valerie, sorry to hear your corners are popping up! It would not be wise to glue these. The best thing would be to figure out the root cause of the problem. It seems it could be the expansion gap, humidity or lack thereof. Once you figure out the problem, you can attempt to fix it depending on what it requires.

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    I had friends lay my laminate flooring and some of the corners are popping up. Can I nail random planks. If so what type of nail?

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    Julius, you certainly can. However it may cause an appearance issue though.

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    Can I use finish nails on laminant steps

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    Hey Maria, I apologize that you have had this experience. In this case the best choice would be to remove the base molding and to trim the floor back so it can expand properly. This is going to be the best option for you. Thank you for reaching out.

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    My laminate floor was installed 2 years ago, and it is now popping up. We had another installer come and take a look at it and he said it was not installed properly. There was NO gap left at the walls for the floor to move.
    Lumber Liquidators won’t help us and we can’t afford another $4,000 for a new floor. We are thinking of nailing it down where it is popping up. We are both over 65 and can’t afford a proper repair.