Ready to install a new floor? Among the many decisions you’ll be making includes the installation system.
Whether you’re leaning towards traditional hardwood or engineered plans, these floorings have come a long way since the early days when freshly cut boards were nailed together to create a uniform walking path. Today’s wood surfaces are smoother than ever before, partially because of the production that goes into the product long before it makes it through your door.
Tongue and groove flooring is quite easy to install. Its wood planks are all created with both protruding and concave parts that ultimately fit together like pieces of a puzzle. These tongue and groove floorboards make it easy to install. One tongue fits firmly into the groove of the adjoining board, creating a flat surface with little vertical movement between them. It creates just enough space to allow for expansion and contraction as environmental conditions adjust based on seasons and weather.
What is tongue and groove flooring
Tongue and groove flooring isn’t a new concept. It was developed back in the late 1800s as manufacturers started mass-producing hardwood planks. As hardwood grew in popularity, creating a system for easy production as well as installation began to undergo transformation. Exposed nail heads were always a problem. Tongue and groove flooring hides or forgoes nails, thus creating a smoother surface.
One side of the board has a protruding tongue, while the other has a concave groove. During installation, the ridge of one side of the board is fitted into the groove of an adjacent board, creating a tight and well-fitted seam. As the floor is fitted together, you can use adhesive, secret nailing, or a floating system to hold it in place.
Tongue and groove or non-grooved planks
If you’re new to tongue and groove technology, you might be asking: what if you install non-grooved planks?
Non-grooved planks would simply be hardwood planks the same height and width on every side of the board. Tongue and groove flooring was introduced because of the problems it solves:
- Working loose over time
- Nail heads showing and creating uneven surfaces
Because the individual floorboards interlock, they’re less likely to heave or show gaps as they expand and move based on shrinkage and swelling, which wood has a tendency to do as the environment changes over time. The grooves are enough to keep planks in place, and handle well over time.
That makes them the preferred choice in hardwood planks, one that is used almost exclusively for both traditional and engineered hardwood.
Tongue and groove or click and lock – what’s the difference?
Click and lock technology is much newer to the marketplace. It takes the puzzle layout of tongue and groove one step further, and gives you the ability to lock the individual planks together, creating a smooth surface area that holds together.
You won’t need any other mechanism for holding the planks in place. Adhesive, nails, even staples won’t be necessary. The individual planks lock together as they feed across the surface, from one side of the room to another.
Click and lock is a do-it-yourselfer’s dream. It has a similar layout to the traditional tongue and groove mechanism. It differs because it has an interlocking profile around the edge that makes it easy to click and lock together. Because it holds together without attaching to a subfloor, it makes it easy to install, even over existing flooring.
It can be installed directly over many other flooring products, which means you won’t have the added expense of ripping out old flooring. This only works with flooring with a smooth surface area already in place. Carpet still must be ripped out, as well as uneven problematic flooring.
Click and lock has been extended beyond traditional and engineered hardwood to include laminate and vinyl planks that resemble hardwood. That gives do-it-yourselfers many options.
Advantages of tongue and groove flooring
Why did tongue and groove become the standard in the hardwood plank industry? Because of the smooth surface area created once the planks are fitted together.
The biggest advantage to a tongue and groove floor is the tight fit created as the boards come together. This tight seem lessens the chance of seepage in between, meaning the floor will hold up and look newer longer.
This tight fit also means the installation process is easier. It will require a minimal amount of nailing or gluing to ensure the floorboards stay in place.
Because tongue and groove planks are the norm, you will find them in both pre-finished and site-finished plank flooring products. If you opt for site-finished, the sealant will provide a protective coating over the entire surface area, blocking out potential problem areas between the planks. This can make many hardwood flooring surface areas water-resistant, standing up better to all your family can dish out.
Disadvantages of tongue and groove flooring
As you’re weighing your options for what flooring choice will best suit your needs, keep in mind that tongue and groove flooring does have a few disadvantages.
Before you install it, it’s essential to properly acclimate it to your home’s surroundings. If the boards are swollen due to humidity or moisture, the tongue and groove system can be difficult to implement. The boards might not join together.
When you push, trying to force the joints together, the tongues can easily break off. This renders them useless, and will require you to purchase more material to finish the installation.
The tongue and groove system is almost always considered one-time use. After the tongue and groove mechanism is joined, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to pull them back apart. If you attempt to force them apart, you will almost always experience significant breakage.
Is tongue and groove flooring right for your home?
Whether you select traditional or engineered hardwood flooring, tongue and groove mechanism will most likely be in place. This creates a smooth, functional surface area that will provide you with the best results over time.
Have additional questions about flooring? Stop by, or give us a call today.