After watching the installation process of my new floors yesterday, I found myself mulling over the benefits of the underlay product that was used. The underlay is probably the most 'unexciting' part of this whole process, but I realized how important it was and how easy it made the installation. Since I'd never seen hardwood floors installed without glue and nails, I thought I'd ask a bit more about this product because I thought you, readers, might be interested too. So I checked in with Rainer Knickmann from Elastilon, to learn more about how it works. Natalie Bahadur: What are the benefits of Elastilon over other installation methods? Rainer Knickmann: The main thing is the ease of using it. It`s very easy to use, very clean and once you`ve learned how to use it, it`s very quick. It`s environmentally friendly because there are no VOCs at all. It uses a very high tech adhesive that is also environmentally friendly. It was invented in Holland and made primarily for the Western European market but it`s grown since to be accepted worldwide. NB: Why is this preferable to other installation methods? RK: It`s faster to use simply because you do everything in one step. You unroll the Elastilon; it`s a foam pad that by itself gives cushioning and a lot of sound dampening, something that most condo boards and apartment owners appreciate. In addition to that, it has an adhesive on one side that actually holds the floor. It also has elastic properties so that it expands and contracts with the wood flooring as the climatic conditions change with temperature and humidity. This way, you`ll always have nice tight joints. The material expands with the wood and then contracts again as the wood contracts and pulls it together. Rather than fighting against the nature of the wood, the way conventional installation methods do, this actually works with it. NB: How do you install it? RK: It comes in a roll with a film on the adhesive. All you have to do to install your floor is unroll the material with the adhesive side up, place your flooring on it. Once you`ve got it started, you pull the film out from under the flooring as you progress. Because of that, you don`t need all the other equipment you`d normally need. No nails, no compressors, no glue or trowels. You don`t have to spread glue, which often gets all over your hands and all over the space and all over the installer himself! It`s just much cleaner to use. One of the nice things is if it`s being used in a home, you can do a room or two and not disturb the rest of the family because there`s no smell from the glue. The only mess or dirt comes from the sawdust from cutting wood. The environmental aspect is a big deal, too. There are no harmful VOCs emitted from this product. NB: Anything else interesting about Elastilon? RK: Elastilon is developed to allow you to lay hardwood floors directly onto cement construction. A further advantage of that is that it can be used to install solid wood flooring on a cement surface below grade, for example, a basement floor, provided that the basement is reasonably dry, etc. You do not have to first build a plywood subfloor, which of course is more expensive, time consuming and takes up space and uses more resources. All you need to do is put down 6 mil or thicker plastic film with the Elastilon on top. It definitely saves you time and money when installing a wood floor in the basement. It can also be used over radiant or in-floor heating, which is becoming ever more popular. The installation requirements are a bit different than a normal installation but as long as those are followed, it works perfectly well to allow you to lay a solid wood floor.