Some of our engineered wood flooring products are designed to be able to be floated. On certain projects this delivers benefits in time and cost but it is critical that these are installed correctly. One of these is a complaint post install that joints are squeaking.
The most common causes of this are:
1. Uneven substrate – the boards bridge over a low section and vertical movement causes friction.
2. Environment too cold and damp when installed – boards shrink after construction phase is complete because they dry out when heating is switched on.
3. Boards installed without a knocking block – not using a block to tap the boards together laterally will not fully engage the joint. Tension remains between boards and results in squeaking.
4. Skirtings/trims fitted tight to the floor – this doesn’t allow the timber to easily expand and contract in the expansion joint around the perimeter meaning there is tension in the floor which will show in there being squeaking.
5. Silicone applied between skirting and floor too early – we recommend this is done right at the end of the project or after project is complete to allow the floor some time to adjust to the site conditions and to ‘settle’. The preference is to not have to use this as it gives the floor ease of movement below the skirting.
6. Transition profiles fitted to tight/close to the floor without sufficient expansion gaps – again this doesn’t leave room for the floor to move and will causing creaking noise and potentially cause peaking between planks as the floor as nowhere to move.
All of these are common and due to the installer or contractor not taking the time to understand the material. With point number 3 especially, contractors will force the boards down from the top instead of tapping in sideways – this isn’t how the joint is designed to work and it will obviously leave tension between boards.
Once installed the floor will settle over a few months and if installed correctly, it will quieten down as the tension is released in the floor
Valinge are the company who developed the joint and their installation video is here – ensure your contractor has viewed this along with the below points prior to starting installation:
Some key things that should always be done if you are looking to installing a floating engineered wood floor:
1. Always check the ambient room temperature and humidity which should be maintained at a constant level, between 18°c (64.4°f) and 22°c (71.6°f) with a relative humidity, between 45% – 65% prior to, during and for the whole life of the wood flooring. Try to avoid extremes of low or high temperatures as this will negatively affect the stability of the wood flooring.
2. As above keep the room temperature constant by using the heating set at maximum 15°c (59°f) or if there are problems with the permanent heating other forms of heating such as convector heaters can be used.
3. Do not use gas type heaters as these will generate extra moisture in the air.
4. Infra-red type heaters do not generally warm the fabric of the room or the wood, they tend to only warm the person or item close to the heater.
5. Low humidity can cause the wood to shrink and high level to cause expansion. Common causes of low humidity are using the heating at too high a temperature, open fires and wood burners. High humidity is commonly caused by poor ventilation.
6. We recommend using a Techno Digital Gauge to monitor the humidity and temperature level that can be easily adjusted by either placing moisture in the room (plants that are watered regularly or receptacles of water) or ventilating the room to reduce high levels of humidity. A re/ de-humidifier can also be used to control the atmosphere.
7. As a general rule rooms / areas should be adequately ventilated to prevent a build of moisture in the atmosphere. Wood will naturally change is size during seasonal changes! In the summer the humidity is generally at its highest level hence the wood joins should be reasonably tight together.
8. During the winter when heating is commonly used the humidity levels are generally lower and will produce small gaps between the joins. This occurrence is not a manufacturing or installation fault!
9. Care must also be given to rooms that are only heating when in use with the heating switched fully off at other times.
10. This can cause a build-up, of humidity if the room is closed and not ventilated immediately after usage. The build of humidity / moisture will generally increase the moisture level of the wood flooring. The next time the room used the heating can dry out the moisture in the surface of the wood causing cupping.
11. Acclimatise the wood flooring for at least 72 hours prior to the installation in the room where the wood is to be fitted. The wood should be stored out of direct sunlight, away from walls and radiators and on battens fully supporting the wood to prevent a build of heat on the bottom boards.
12. Acclimatising is used to balance the wood flooring with the environment it is going to be used in. If the temperature of the wood is at an equilibrium balance (the same as the room) and the moisture level of the wood is within ±2% of the wood sub-floor or around 9% for heating other than underfloor heating and around 7% for underfloor heated subfloors you can assume the wood does not require any further acclimatising.
13. Always create an unfilled expansion gap of a minimum 12mm on areas of less than 25 m2 and a minimum of 15mm on larger areas.