Squeaking Caused by Movement of Wood Floors

Description

This is when the flooring makes a squeaking sound, with only certain areas being affected and not others.

Causes

Squeaking can occur when there is excessive vertical movement in the floor. This may lead to joints moving onto each other, which creates the actual squeaking sound you may hear by. Excessive vertical movement may occur because joist or battens are situated too far apart. This is caused by the timber base on which the flooring has been laid, is too thin or flexible. Additional causes include the fact that header joints are situated too closely together or that there is a lack of evenness with the sub-floor.

Seasonal expansion of flooring after an installation can cause the board joints to suffer from increased pressure which may result in the flooring suffering from squeaking where it previously was unaffected. In floating floors spot gluing the tongue and groove rather than applying a full layer can contribute to squeaking where there is unevenness in the subfloor.

When secret-nail fixing tongue and groove flooring, it is only the closeness of the fit between the tongue and groove on the groove side of each board that stops vertical movement, and the accompanying squeaking. Fully bonding with adhesive should reduce the chances of this from happening.

Diagnosis

In order to find the best solution for the affected areas of flooring, you must correctly identify the problem. It is important to know whether:

  • The battens/ joists have been suitably spaced
  • The header joints are less than 200mm apart
  • The clusters of header joints are present between the joists or batten
  • The timber base possesses a suitable structural thickness
  • The sub-floor is even
  • There are intervals of secret nail fixings
  • There is a minimum of two fixings in each flooring element

Solutions

Where there are large amounts of squeaking, floors may require replacement. If there is localised squeaking, the appropriate course of action should be to inject an adhesive between the floor and subfloor. We advise you follow this up by weighting during the curing of adhesive, which may resolve the problem.

Alternatively, there are a number of things you can do in order to help the cause. This includes screwing the flooring down tight from below, face nailing or screwing and plugging from above.

Where there is significant movement or gaps between joints, you could use talcum powder to put into the joints. The vertical movement of the flooring elements help the powder to penetrate into joint. This may need to be repeated several times for best results.

Alternatively a small quantity of lubricant can be used at the joint in order to reduce squeaking. Using oils will contaminate the floor for future refinishing.

An effective method is to use dehumidification to increase space between the flooring elements at the joints. Proceed by sanding and applying a generous amount of low viscosity maintenance oil. This should penetrate between flooring elements. Complete the process by applying a regular finishing oil.

Avoidance

  • Ensure that the sub-floor is even prior to any installing of flooring.
  • It is important to acclimatise solid wood flooring before installing.
  • Be sure to carry out a full gluing of tongue and groove in glue system floating floors as opposed to spot gluing.
  • Do not secret-nail, fix the product through underlay
  • Use purpose-made serrated flooring nails.
  • Avoid clusters of header joints between the joist or batten.
  • Where a header joint is situated between supports, the next row should span the void between the joist or batten, where possible.