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Some wood floors are prone to squeaking or creaking. There are several preventable factors that may cause this.
INADEQUATE SUBFLOOR: For nail installations, the subfloor must be plywood or OSB panels. Particleboard is NOT suitable.
INADEQUATE SUBFLOOR THICKNESS: The recommended thickness of subfloor panels (plywood or OSB) is 3/4″ for joists spaced 19” or less apart on center. Anything less than this may cause the floor to creak when it bends. Wider joist spans may also have the same effect.
FLOORBOARD DIRECTION: Boards run parallel to the joists. This will decrease stability.
WEAK STRUCTURE: The subfloor is not firmly attached to the joists with floor screws, leaving space between the joists and subfloor, causing the subfloor, not the flooring, to creak.
HUMIDITY: Try to keep temperatures and relative humidity in the room at what might be considered normal values. In winter, 72° F with 35-40% RH will help. It might also help to make sure the area beneath the floor is insulated with vapour barrier.
INADEQUATE UNDERLAYMENT: Some urethane based (foam type) underlayment will eventually “sack out”. Meaning that the product’s resilience will deteriorate and its ability to absorb sound will cease, meaning the slight movements of the floating floor will no longer be insulated by underlayment and thus the cracking noises.
INSTALLATION: Improper installation can also cause flooring boards to squeak. Make sure that you or your contractor follows the installation guidelines.
IMPROPER NAIL-DOWN INSTALLATION: Improper use and amount of nails used can cause floor boards to move causing friction between boards and resulting in popping / crackling noises. You must staple or nail 1” – 2” from the ends and every 4” – 6” along the edges. This will help insure a satisfactory installation. It is best to set the compressor PSI at 80 – 85lbs to keep the staples from going through or breaking the tongues of the boards. Improper stapling techniques can cause squeaks in the floor. Adjustments may be necessary to provide adequate penetration of the nail or staple into the nail bed – you want it flush in the nail pocket. Use a scrap piece of flooring material to set tools properly before installation. Before installation of the engineered flooring begins, install a 6-mil polyethylene layer over the subfloor. This will retard moisture from below and may help prevent squeaks. Keep in mind there is no complete moisture barrier system for staple or nail down installations.
T&G GLUE: In a floating floor system, the placement of glue is very important. The glue should be placed along the top side of the groove and the full length of the groove (sides and ends). This can be accomplished by inverting the plank and applying bead of glue (3/32”) on the upper side of the groove. When the plank is turned back over, glue will run down the back to create total coverage. If the groove is totally filled with glue, it could hinder the closing of the seams because of excessive glue, thus not allowing a tight fit. Inadequate/improper gluing techniques can cause squeaks in the floor.
GLUELESS/CLICK-LOCK: Most floating interlocking engineered wood floors often squeak due to movement between floor boards (in some cases T&G floating floors will also create crackling noises when insufficient amounts of glue are used and or uneven subfloors) . Uneven subfloors can cause flooring planks to dip and move when stepped on. The different sides of the wood rubbing together can cause an annoying crackling sound. Traditionally the more even and leveled the subfloor is the less there are chances of hearing crackling sounds. Engineered click-lock floors milled with patented Unilin profile are said to be the best profiling for click locks floors in the industry. While majority of the time there is not much noise or crackling sound in some cases due to the environment of the home some noises will appear. While this is not a defect, difficult or damaging problem, it can be a bit irritating and sometimes not the easiest to fix. Using glue will sometimes eliminate this problem, but the surer way to prevent it is to make sure your subfloors are leveled and in some cases to place graphite powder (can be a bit messy) or wax between the boards.
In summary, the best way to prevent your floors from making any noise is to ensure the subfloor is properly prepared and constructed, follow all installation guidelines carefully, and maintain proper humidity and temperature control once your flooring is installed.