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Click lock flooring vs tongue and groove

close up image of seal oak wood flooring in lounge with a plank on top showing the end of the plank

Is click lock the same as tongue and groove?
No. Click lock and tongue and groove are two different types of joining mechanisms used to connect planks of flooring together during the installation process. Click lock is the easier and quicker option of the two, as no glue is needed and the mechanism is designed to literally ‘click’ into position. This is why click lock floors are better suited to DIY projects. Laminate flooring and lvt flooring usually have click lock joining mechanisms as this makes them easier to install which is appropriate due to them being generally lower cost flooring options.

Traditionally and still predominantly today wood flooring uses the tongue and groove joining mechanism. This is largely because tongue and groove mechanisms are ideally glued together that creates a stronger join which is more important with wood flooring because it expands and contracts more than laminate and vinyl flooring when exposed to moisture and temperature changes. Solid wood flooring is highly reactive to moisture and temperature changes so it is only available with tongue and groove joining mechanisms which are to be fully bonded together and also to the subfloor to prevent any movement.

Today there are many click engineered wood flooring products available thanks to the invention and advances of engineered wood flooring, which is less reactive to moisture and temperature changes because only the top layer is real wood and the lower layers are more resilient materials.

Is click lock flooring good?
Yes, flooring with a click lock joining mechanism is designed to be easy to install and in as little time as possible. Click lock is perfectly suited for floors such as lvt flooring where underlay is usually built into the planks, which means providing the subfloor is smooth and flat, you simply lay the flooring straight over the subfloor and click the planks together. There is no need to buy and install separate underlay, you don’t need to glue the joining grooves together, and you don’t need to glue the floor to the subfloor. Click lock flooring is designed to be as hassle free as possible and good quality products are extremely effective. This opens up installing click lock flooring to more people, rather than only professional installers.

The disadvantages of click-lock flooring are that it is not perfectly suited to wood flooring in general and not suited at all for solid wood flooring, because wood reacts to moisture and temperature changes. What can happen if an adequate expansion gap has not been left and the floor experiences excess moisture or temperature change, as the floor expands the planks can lift at the joins if the joins can’t hold the pressure of the expanded floor. Joins that have been fully bonded (glued) together are less likely to separate, which is why click lock is better suited to vinyl than wood flooring. Click lock is perfect for certain types of flooring.

This image details the layers and the click joining mechanism of our SPC LVT Flooring

Should I use tongue and groove for flooring?
Tongue and groove flooring mainly consists of engineered and solid wood flooring products. Tongue and groove mechanisms are the most secure option for wood flooring because wood flooring is the most reactive floor type with regards to moisture and temperature changes which can cause movement. Excessive movement can be too much for click lock mechanisms and they can break under pressure. Fully bonded tongue and groove joining mechanisms on floors fully bonded to the subfloor are unlikely to move over time even with moderate moisture and temperature changes. Tongue and groove floors are more difficult to install than click lock floors and it is advisable to use professional floor installers for these types of floors.

What are the disadvantages of a tongue and groove joint?
The disadvantages of tongue and groove flooring are;

• It is very difficult to replace individual planks if they get damaged
• Installation is difficult and ideally needs a professional installer
• Installation is expensive because it is difficult
• Installation takes longer

Whilst tongue and groove laminate flooring products are available, the vast majority of laminate products have click joining mechanisms. If you have decided that you want to use underlay will be floating tongue and groove flooring it is advisable to fully bond the joints together to increase the strength and durability of the floor.

Is click flooring better than glue down?
There are many floors such as engineered wood floors that have click joining mechanisms and can be fully bonded (glue down) to the subfloor. Engineered wood flooring is available with both click and tongue and groove joining mechanisms, and be both floated on underlay and fully bonded to the subfloor. So neither is better than the other as they can both exist in the same floor. Engineered Click wood flooring problems can occur in cases where excess moisture or temperature changes have caused the wood to expand which can cause the joints to lift and break.

You can take advantage of the quick and easy click joining mechanism for wood flooring in areas that are unlikely to experience moisture or changes in temperature.

Does click flooring need glue?
Click flooring doesn’t necessarily need glue as it exists in different types of floors. For example an engineered wood floor with a click joining system can be installed with or without glue, and an lvt floor with a click system cannot be installed with glue. Only glue down lvt needs glue to fully bond it to the subfloor. Types of click lock flooring include lvt flooring, laminate flooring and engineered wood flooring.

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