Chipboard is notorious for being uneven. Over time it can sag. Of course this problem could also be associated with poor joists placement or movement in a property. Whatever the reason, the unevenness needs solving prior to installing any wood type floating floor (a floor which isn’t fixed to the sub-floor and that is often installed on top of an underlay) like engineered wood or laminate flooring. The conventional method would typically be to either use packings (wood, underlay, ply slithers etc), which incidentally rarely works to a satisfactory standard. Alternatively, using a smoothing compound, which comes with its own set of problems, like waxes or oils in the chipboard preventing bonding of the compound and the very limited type of compound that can be used to allow for slight flex/bounce in the chipboard. There is a product that provides an excellent solution..
More than just tell you there is a solution, I’m going to show you how it works in real life. During a recent job we carried out for a client, I took a series of pictures that will hopefully and clearly illustrate how this system works..
As a side note, this system isn’t exclusive to chipboard sub-floors. It can be used on quite literally ANY sub-floor..From Plyboard, Floorboards, Ashpalt, Concrete, Anhydrite/Calcium Sulphate/Gypsum etc..
A sub-floor doesn’t strictly have to be level to accommodate a floating wood type floor covering. However, it does need to be FLAT (within a tolerance of 2 mm over a 2 metre span). Here we can see our long straight edge highlighting the huge unevenness in our clients chipboard sub-floor. The underlay is five millimetres thick. There are two pieces of underlay in the picture showing this sub-floor to be uneven by ten millimetres within a very short span.
There is going to be a quality laminate floor installed. If this unevenness wasn’t rectified, the slope would certainly be very apparent – both from the eye as well as with movement underfoot – and potentially result in a failure of the laminate altogether. It needed sorting!
Eco Pearls are the solution! They’re dry, so no waiting for compounds to dry. They can be installed from two millimetres all the way up to a massive one hundred and eighty millimetres! They’re also super easy to work with.
Using our pre-set straight edge, we simply pour the eco pearls on the chipboard, push them to the front of the straight edge and drag across the relevant area. It really is as simple as that.
Once we have the approximate level we need, then the eco pearls are lightly compacted down with a trowel to remove air gaps and make sure they’re firm.
As you can see, the eco pearls are essentially wood granules. Such a simple idea and extremely effective. No preparing of the chipboard required. No sanding to remove waxes, oils, paint, or any other contaminants. This isn’t a bonded system. They sit on top of the chipboard. No adhesive required. No resin required. Just pour and go. How’s that for a tacky advertising slogan?!
Installing the flooring
Typically, when installing say a vinyl floor covering in conjunction with the Eco Pearls system, a hard layer installed over the top of the granules would be required. However, as the laminate flooring is rigid, an initial hard layer isn’t needed.
We do advise that a certain type of underlay is used. We need an underlay that will absorb the granules, bed in so to speak. This both helps lock them in place and prevent the granules travelling. It also makes the installation of the laminate a lot easier. The underlay we tend to use is an XPS Type. This is a highly compressed polystyrene in single board form. A basic three millimetre roll type underlay can be used, however, we find a block board type underlay easier to work with for this particular method.
The flooring can be installed in sections as we go without having to pre-cut a complete run of roll underlay. You have to appreciate that the Eco pearl granules – as a mass – are soft (as can be seen by the obvious hand print in the picture above). They only become effective, once they are compacted and a rigid layer placed over the top. A similar analogy can be imagined with sand or snow. One could pierce a whole in both with a finger, but after compaction and placement of a rigid material, the sand or snow will happily hold the weight without sinking (Please allow for common sense here, that statement is simply an analogy).
Once the initial rows are installed, it’s a straight forward process of install as we go, with minimal fuss. No mess, no splashing of smoothing compound. Just rinse and repeat the first steps, and away we go. Any escaped/loose granules, simply vacuum them up using an attachment tube. If any granules make their way into the locking system of the laminate, vacuum them out.
Now we can see our clients room really taking shape. With a nice flat floor! At just over a third the cost of a relevant smoothing compound and more efficient without the required drying time, Eco Pearls really pay for themselves. This system is frankly excellent. It can be hard for some to trust, the traditionalists struggle with the concept. I was no exception to that. However, after many projects using Eco Pearls, I’m now comfortable with the system and can whole heartedly give my recommendations. Eco Pearls work!
When you have a problematic sub-floor – which is far more common than not – and are considering installing a floating floor, perhaps Eco Pearls may provide you with a cost and time effective solution. We can supply Eco Pearls at a competitive price. Simply fill in our contact form with your request, and we’ll reply with a cost.
© Copyright 2016 Wes, All rights Reserved. Written For: Fitmywoodfloor