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Fitters Are Angry About Plywood Problems

Sid Bourne on floor failures down to plywood Part 2

LAST MONTH I wrote about the increasingly common problem of plywood flooring failures. I also reported on a particular case, now the subject of legal action, where both the staple gun manufacturer and the plywood flooring supplier turned their back on the problem.

After this case I asked my son Matthew to put on his website forum questions about plywood, and asking floorlayers to tell us of their own experiences:
The forum is still open, so you are welcome to leave your own comments on the quality and / or problems you have experienced with plywood.

I promise all who get involved that I will try to take matter this as far as I possibly can. I say this because – as you well know – I never hesitate to condemn bad workmanship.

In this case, however, the floor was impeccably installed and prepared. The failure was clearly not down to installer error or anything to do with the solid wood flooring. The plywood had been pulled from the subfloor.
The comments below are some that have appeared on the forum. There are others which you can read online and see more photos.

I would like to hear from anyone who is experiencing issues with plywood and who they purchase
their plywood from. Unless this matter is exposed
here, you will have nobody to blame but yourself if you have problems with plywood and your suppliers tell you where to go!

Here is what a few people said:

• ‘This is going down the same road as gripper quality- wise. You used to be able to cutitinwithaknife(Iuseda concave blade incidentally), but now I have to use a jigsaw, and it splits easily’

• ‘Where do you start? I use minimum 6mm and above. I have two suppliers for the wood, but am now going to just stick with one flooring supplier. The 6mm I get is frankly appalling. There are dead areas all the way through it and bits of plastic. In my last two jobs the edges were de- laminated. The stuff I am now using is from a timber merchant. It is layered and not reconstituted crap’

• ‘The 6mm plywood from one of our suppliers comes with some yellow boards and some pink boards. The pink boards need about 12 cuts with a straight blade to get through it. It is up to 4mm narrower than the soft yellow boards that take a maximum of two runs with the knife to cut straight through. I only ever use this crap board when plying jobs for National Trust places as they have carpet and underlay over the top’ I‘I now refuse to fit over plywood unless I know where it came from or I can inspect it before it’s fitted. You can run a scraper over a lot of these boards and the top layer comes off easily’

• ‘You have to be careful using a compressor and pinner as staples go too deep and sometimes straight through, even when you have turned the pressure down’

• ‘The ply we used to get from this same supplier was always the darker boards, but in the last year or so it has become mix and match’

• ‘I have started using Wickes’ 6mm ply because of problems I had. I only fit LVT so the ply has got be good. I searched around local wood yards and suppliers, but found Wickes was far better than any of these’

• ‘I now use Far Eastern suppliers, but am having trouble getting regular batches of good quality ply. The older stuff was layered, but lately it has been near on junk with made up sections’


T: 07841 500940

Sid Bourne is to write reports on tools he tests. Contact him if you want any tools tested.

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Association website. You can find them at