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Commercial Flooring News

Have I Got Noise For You

Sid Bourne solves the mystery of a squeaking floor

A MAJOR building company called me in to investigate following a complaint that popping and crackling sounds were coming from a new solid wood floor in a large penthouse suite.

The solid oak was installed unfinished with the finish to be stained after the consumer had made a choice.

The contractor in question had already replaced part of the floor after the sand & finish guys had gone in and decided not to proceed after the floor began grumbling. The noise started immediately as they moved the machine across the floor. So they stopped work and reported back to builder.

What nobody could understand was why the floor made loud noises one week and the following week was silent. They were all very confused. After the floor was replaced the sand & finish guys went back, thinking that the floor had been silenced. But it wasn’t long before the popping and crackling returned.

On questioning the contractor it became apparent to me that site conditions were not correct at time of the installation. In fact, the noise got worse after the floor had been sanded & finished and the heating was put on.
The contractor told me that because of the conditions he made sure to leave field expansion between every other plank. When I inspected the floor there was no field expansion. I asked if he had noticed when the gaps closed. Yes, he said. It was literally only a couple of days and all gaps had closed.

This had set off the alarm bells. I decided to investigate further, realising immediately that one of the causes was moisture. I went to lift some planks, only to find that ever y plank had been nailed ever y 50- 70mm. Because of this the tongue fixings had split, allowing the floor to move freely. This excessive movement had obviously caused the squeaking noises.

I also found cupping on many planks caused by moisture. And furthermore, I discovered that the subfloor which was 18mm plywood onto battens was wrongly fixed.

On revealing these issues the contractor surprisingly took it on the chin, even though he knew there was no way of saving the flooring. All would have to be removed and new flooring installed, which meant it being replaced twice, costing the contractor many thousands of pounds. He did, however, have a go at the company which supplied the flooring as they had sent out a so-called technical adviser to help specify the flooring and

the installation.

The contractor told me that at no time did the supplier’s technical guy pick up on anything, not even the fact that no heating was on or even working. He also pointed out that no moisture test had been taken. So how on earth could the supplier specify the materials in that situation just defies logic.

Anyway I put together a specification for the contractor for him to work to. But he was still was bothered that this would not resolve the issues he had experienced. So I asked if he wanted me to do some on-site training with his installers to make sure things were done correctly. Yes, was his instant reply.

The installers he was using were, I have to admit, a bit rough around the edges. They knew diddly about wood flooring, so I had to watch them like a hawk. Eventually the light bulb went on and they started to get the idea and the job went well.

Some time later the sand & finish guys went in and they did a great job. However they were proper sand & finish pro’s and members of the BWFA which was music to my ears.

This particular job now dates back over 18 months with the contractor reporting to me that ever ything had been great with no fur ther problems. This really does go to show the importance of training in the wood flooring industry. The fact is that most complaints are due to the fact that installers do not understand how wood works. Knowing this is the simple secret to successful installations.

All you contractors out there, please book yourself onto a British Wood Flooring Association installation course. You will benefit from this greatly. Don’t keep forking out thousands of pounds for your mistakes. Just get properly trained. It will save you loads of moneyinthelongrun.

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