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 Post subject: Very noisy new floating wooden floor
PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2019 6:02 am 
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Hello!

I bought a newly built flat in December 2018 with a pre-installed wood floor. It is all wood and not laminate or veneer. During the cold winter, when it was often lower than minus 5 degrees centigrade (40F) outside, I noticed some ’snap, crackle, pop' noises in a couple of places where I walk regularly. The humidity in the flat was around 30% for most of the winter. However, in spring the noise spread to more and more places where I walk regularly, and now almost every step causes a noise from the floor. The problem is clearly related to humidity, the higher the humidity the more frequent and loud is the noise. When the humidity is high the noise is extreme, and is a bit like walking on gravel! Also, in areas where I rarely walk, the floor is still relatively quiet, or even silent.

The flat is still under warranty. The building company say that none of the other flats (out of 75 in the building) have reported this problem. They removed some mouldings (moldings?) which seem to show that the floor was installed correctly in that enough space was left for expansion. The supplier of the wood also looked at the problem and their recommendation in September this year was to wait until spring 2020 ’after another heating season’ and then take the floor up and glue it down ’to make it more stable’.

Some other relevant information;

1. The floor is floating and seems to sit on a blue plastic layer. Beneath that is a hard, I assume concrete, surface which has been poured over the underfloor heating water pipes.

2. I have not used water or steam to clean the floor.

3. The flat also has a ventilation system but this does not provide any control over the humidity which has ranged from less than 30% to more than 60%.

4. I maintain the indoor temperature at 20 degrees centigrade (70F) during the winter.

5. It seems clear that the noise comes from the sides of the boards rubbing together when under pressure. When I locate a noisy area, I can repeat the same noise continually by applying pressure and then releasing it.

6. I have the product and installation sheets although unfortunately they are not English.

Can anyone kindly help me with any of the following questions that I have;

1. What are the possible causes of the problem? The building company has not offered an explanation as to what is causing the problem or why this problem only occurs in my flat.

2. Why is it useful to wait until another ’heating season’ has passed?

3. Is the recommended solution to glue the floor down reasonable? Or could this just mask an underlying problem? For example is there a problem with the surface underneath the wood? Or has the wood been damaged in some way before I bought the flat; it was empty for perhaps a year or more?

4. Is there a less radical way fix to the problem? For example I have read about a technique to ease the boards apart a little to reduce the contact between them.

5. Could the problem go away eventually? So if the boards are continually rubbing against each other, will they in effect smooth each other down?

Any other general comments not directly related to my specific questions would also be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!!


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 Post subject: Re: Very noisy new floating wooden floor
PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 1:53 pm 
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I had a very similar case about a year ago where the 1 unit out of about 200 in the condo was doing exactly as you describe. It was floating engineered hardwood, not laminate, but it was a very low cost product, not made in Canada or the US. The unit was located over the buildings moving room which was not climate controlled. Over the course of the year the ceiling of that moving room could vary from near 0C to 25-30C. I was skeptical that the temperature of the slab would cause the problem; however, since we had discovered a possible 'reason' we had to correct it. When we removed and replaced the floor with the same stuff, we installed a better rubber underlayment as opposed to the standard foam used in the rest of the building and the problem went away. My guess is the foam had too much give and the rubber provided a more solid base which creates less micro-movement when walked on, which made the noise problem go away. However, I'm convinced the noise was due to the low-cost product (lots of short, narrow boards would be the sign that its a cheaper product - more board means more joints and more possibility for locks to rub and create noise) over the low cost foam underlayment.

If your floor is still under warranty, then do not wait for another heating cycle; this is a stall tactic I use all the time with builders. Within the 1st year, they get installation warranties and rework like this done at no charge, but after 1 year, they typically need to pay for additional work even if its related to the original install. "Wait for a full cycle" is sometimes code for "wait until I can bill you for this" to cover my service costs. The exception to this is for low-rise construction where the wood in the house may settle over the first couple of years and some subfloor squeaks may actually go away without needed to be corrected. If your subfloor is concrete, then waiting will accomplish nothing at all. When they do take up your flooring, make sure you review the subfloor conditions before letting them reinstall; subfloor should be flat to 1/8th over 10ft (3/16th if youre a nice guy about it) and if theres humps or dips beyond that, that could also be contributing to the noise.


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 Post subject: Re: Very noisy new floating wooden floor
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 5:50 am 
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Thank you very much for taking the time to reply. Your expert advice is much appreciated!

I have followed up on some of what you said. I have noted down here what I came up with in case you can provide any further insights that would help me.

1. These are the dimensions of the boards in mm: 13.3/2.7x182x2190. I don’t know what the 13.3 is referring to. But what I also noticed is that between 30 and 50% of the boards are about half length, but not exactly half of 2190mm, as if ‘roughly’ cut in half. So am curious as to why the installer did that even where there is lots of space. Part of the floor, the hall, is 1.5 metres by 8 meters. About halfway along, it breaks out into the living/dining area which is 5 meters wide.

2. Direct to the public, the cost seems to be about 25 euros/square meter (about 10 dollars per square foot?). I wonder what that says about the quality of the product?

3. I notice now that there are lots of small gaps between the moldings and the floor. The gaps form ‘waves’ if that makes sense. Bit hard to measure accurately but they are clearly on the boundary of the limits you set out: 1/8 to 3/16 of an inch. When they take up the floor and the concrete proves to be unacceptably uneven, what should I insist they do to correct it?

4. I have to say I was bit a skeptical about the recommendation to wait for another ‘heating cycle’ and now I know why!

5. I think your comments about the underlay sound really promising because it fits well with my experience. It is as if the underlay gradually lost its firmness over the last winter, creating the instability that causes the noise. It also explains well why areas where I rarely walked remained relatively quiet.

6. Finally, I managed to roughly translate a section of the product sheet which I found quite ironic!

“3-layer parquet is a parquet with precious wood, where the middle and lower layers are made of spruce, pine or poplar. This type of board parquet is somewhat more stable than solid parquet in temperature and humidity fluctuations because layers with different directional wood grain counteract the natural movement of the wood. As a result, the surface is also more stable and more susceptible to changes in the indoor climate. The click system makes installation very easy and quick. If the boards are not glued down, the boards can be picked up and reinstalled in another room. Suitable for use with underfloor heating.”


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 Post subject: Re: Very noisy new floating wooden floor
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 7:38 am 
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With regards to the subfloor - if its wavy at the perimeters like you say then chances are concrete wasn't checked prior to the install. The fix is easy - you skim coat the area with self-levelling concrete to provide the correct flatness for a floating installation. Its often skipped to save costs, but "close enough" doesnt apply with floating floors since you tend to feel every dip and hump in the sub-floor. Moreso with a product with shorter boards and lots of joints.

Get a long (6ft or more) straight piece of metal and use that to check your unit. You'll see the subfloor dips and humps just putting it in various places on the installed product. If you paid $10/SQFT for a floating product, you absolutely are entitled to a proper installation, so don't let these guys off the hook! Tell them you want it taken up (most of the material can be reused with a click system) and the underlayment replaced with a rubber one with a higher IIC rating, and before relaying, you'd like the subfloor levelled properly with self-levelling concrete.


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 Post subject: Re: Very noisy new floating wooden floor
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 1:34 pm 
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Thanks again!

After you commented on the price I double checked my calculation to convert form euros/square meters and it is more like 3 dollars/square foot. Nevertheless, I think you are still completely right that I am entitled to a proper installation!


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 Post subject: Re: Very noisy new floating wooden floor
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2019 8:47 am 
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WestonKris wrote:
I had a very similar case about a year ago where the 1 unit out of about 200 in the condo was doing exactly as you describe.


Hello again, I have been doing a bit more digging on my problem, and someone raised something which would never have occurred to me. And I am trying to work out if what they said is just a 'red herring'.

In the condo of 200 that you mentioned above, were the units sold with pre-installed kitchens, and if so did you do your flooring work after they had been installed?

If not, did you cut-out a space in the floor ready for the kitchen, or was the plan to let the new owners install their kitchen on top of the wood floor?

Thanks again for any help you can give me.


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 Post subject: Re: Very noisy new floating wooden floor
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 7:28 am 
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For that project and most condo installs with a floating floor, the kitchen is installed first and we install the floor up to the legs of the cabinets (leaving a little room for necessary expansion). The kitchen trade then returns to install the kick plates. With solid hardwood in a low rise, you'd typically install the hardwood first and the kitchen on top, since that floor is nailed down. Though it typically depends on the builder and what kind of kitchens they are putting in. Most new construction will include kitchens, unless the owner has specifically requested to install their own.


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 Post subject: Re: Very noisy new floating wooden floor
PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 9:47 am 
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WestonKris wrote:
For that project and most condo installs with a floating floor, the kitchen is installed first and we install the floor up to the legs of the cabinets (leaving a little room for necessary expansion).


Thanks again for the reply! My kitchen (with 3cm thick stone worktop) has been installed on top of the floating floor. And someone else said to me that this may prevent the floor expanding, and therefore could be the cause of the noise.

However, I am still not convinced this can be a complete explanation, because it seems to me that there are still plenty of areas where the wood has room to expand, but it is still noisy in those places. Unless the whole 'system' is all connected in a way I do not understand?


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 Post subject: Re: Very noisy new floating wooden floor
PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2020 2:17 pm 
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A click floating floor is connected and behaves as one unified piece under ideal circumstances. Imagine a square room with proper expansion gaps all around the perimeter. As the floor picks up excess moisture in the summer from the higher humidity, it will begin to expand in all 4 directions (typically more width wise than lengthwise). Its not much, but without the expansion gaps, having nowhere else to go, the expanded material takes on extra pressure which can manifest as noise or deflection. Eventually, the floor will expand to the point of buckling and once locks start to break the install is considered a failure.

So its possible the kitchen being installed on your floor is pinning it in that location and preventing proper movement required for a floating floor. One possible solution without taking cabinets out would be to increase the expansion room at the other terminations opposite the kitchen (take the shoe and maybe the baseboards off and cut relief if its tight). This will take pressure off the floor and might help with the noise. If anything is still under warranty, then be sure to take advantage and get the kitchen/flooring contractors back in there.


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