Creaking engineered floor! How to avoid before you buy

The dreaded and torturous creak!! Here we’ll be looking at some reasons why engineered floors creak and what you can do to avoid it..

This article will also be giving you some practical advice on what to look for when you’re shopping around. Little secrets that the salesmen do not want you to pick up on. You might also be interested to find out some causes of laminate floors creaking. If you’ve already fitted your engineered floor, the information in this article may be very relevant with a lot of the issues being connected.

Why do they creak?

Engineered wood floors are manufactured using a multiple layer system. A thin balancing ply layer on the bottom, then multiple ply strips installed across each other, then a top layer real wood surface. More expensive engineered floors are produced with a complete ply middle layer rather than strips. These tend to be far less creaky and are an important fact to consider before buying.

Although engineered flooring is a very stable product with regards in home climate change, the type that are constructed with ply strips can be very noisy. Any slight movement due to the sub-floor (unevenness and bounce) and/or underlay compression will often result in creaking. Even when the adhesive used to fuse the strips to the balancing board and top layer is good and strong, minute movements within the floor result in the ply fibres splitting or rubbing together. Even when acclimatised correctly, this is often still the case.

Board rub. If the sub-floor isn’t flat or even or in some cases if you have movement in the floor due to underlay compression, either of these factors can result in the points where each board meets rubbing together. This doesn’t have to be a large movement and can result in slight creaks. The quality of the locking system is a huge consideration of which we’ll be looking at later on.

Climate change. Changes in room humidity and temperature can alter any wood floor. As the floor takes on or looses moisture, contraction or expansion of board fibres will certainly result in creaks when walked on. This is sometimes an unavoidable process, as moisture can bond fibres together and when they dry out sufficiently they will tear away when pressure is applied, resulting in the creak!

How can I avoid purchasing a creaky engineered floor?

There are several things to look out for. The construction of the ply core being one of the main factors. When looking in stores, you will often see loose sample boards of the floor you’re considering. If you don’t see a loose board, ask for one.

Engineered floor with strip construction.Now looking down the middle of the board you may see spaces between the ply strips (see picture right). This does not indicate the floor is going to be creaky but is worth carrying out a small test to put your mind at ease. Place the flat single board across your knee and pull or flex the plank by holding each end. Try adjusting the amount of force you use as to imitate the amount of movement that would be expected (No more that 1 mm. If it creaks now, it’ll creak when fitted! This is not a guarantee, but will certainly give you an early indicator.

A picture of a engineered boardHere is an example of an engineered floor with a full ply core center. If the ply middle is made of solid ply. You have found an extremely good quality product. However, still do the knee test to put your mind at ease.

The knee test doesn’t check for a creaky locking system. Try placing two boards together, place them on a flat solid surface (not the stores carpet floor!) and stand on the interlocked boards. This isn’t cast iron as there won’t be much strength with only two boards locked together but will certainly give you an indicator.

A man checking an engineered floor locking system.The type of locking system is also a huge consideration. Is it substantial? Is it a basic tongue and groove with a slight bit of machining that’s supposed to resemble a locking system or does it look like a good deal of effort has gone into it. Is the locking system dry or is it waxed? A dry locking system can often be an indicator of a future creaky floor. If it has been waxed, which will be evident when looked at closely, this is a sign of both a good quality manufactured product and the wax will help prevent creaks by lubricating the locking system. Again, this is no guarantee, so thorough checks should be carried out to gain an overall idea.

If the store you walk into has a floor display, use it! As long as it’s safe to do so, of course. You are going to be potentially spending a decent amount of money, so stand on the floor displays. Listen to the sound that’s made and ask how they were installed.

This article should have given you some pointers. Feel free to contact us should you have any questions. Want to check out some options? Click here..

 

© Copyright 2013 Wes, All rights Reserved. Written For: Fitmywoodfloor
About

I am a Pergo trained professional installer of 20 years. I've been up close and personal with lots of floors and have the knobbly knees to show for it...Should you have any questions or comments please feel free to add them below. Thanks for taking the time to call by and I hope the information you've found has given you some insight!........................................................................................................................................................................“When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in the site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network, amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.fr, amazon.de, amazon.it, amazon.ca, affiliate window network.” This statement is to comply with current internet regulations regarding transparency to consumers.

Posted in Engineered floor fitting, Engineered wood flooring, Problem floors and poor installations Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
  • Valerie

    The builder did not put the underlayment, because a piece of engineered wood chipped off, and there was wood underneath. Unless that was another layer of floor. The floor in front of the stove squeaks horribly. Its embarrassing.

  • Hi Valerie,

    My apologies, but I’m not really sure how to answer that. Squeaking is consistent with the lack of using underlay, more so with a floating floor, and it is unfortunate your builder didn’t seemingly use any.

    I would recommend you use a floor installer, specifically, a wood floor installer the next flooring project you have.

    Regards,

    Wes.

  • Valerie

    Thank you.