Brief Introduction to the Topic

Ever stepped on your new engineered wood floor only to hear a creaking sound that throws an echoing wrench in the tranquillity of your home? If so, you’re not alone. The creaking of a new engineered wood floor can be a perplexing problem to face for any homeowner. Besides disrupting the silence in your home, these unexpected noises can cause doubts about the quality of the installation, the materials used, and even the overall integrity of your home. They can leave you feeling helpless, especially when the floor was professionally installed and, in theory, should be functioning without a hitch.

Importance of Understanding the Causes of Creaking in Engineered Wood Floors

At California Flooring and Design, we believe that understanding the reasons behind your new engineered wood floor creaking is crucial in diagnosing the best solution. Knowing the causes can not only help you address the current issue but also guide you in preventing similar problems in the future. Let’s have a first glance at the most common causes of this problem:

  • Floorboard Movement: This happens when two floorboards rub against each other, causing friction and resulting in squeaking noises.
  • Seasonal Changes: Changes in temperature and humidity cause the wood to expand and contract, leading to more friction and noise.
  • Uneven Subfloors: If your subfloor is uneven, it can result in movement between the floor and the subfloor and the consequent squeak.

Causes of Wood Floor Creaking - new engineered wood floor creaking infographic infographic-line-3-steps

Throughout the rest of this guide, we’ll delve into these causes in more detail, providing comprehensive solutions to restore peace to your home and confidence in the elegance and reliability of your engineered wood floor. So, let’s embark on this journey to solve the mystery of your new engineered wood floor creaking.

Understanding Why Your New Engineered Wood Floor is Creaking

To effectively solve a problem, it’s crucial to first understand its root causes. So, let’s explore the reasons why your new engineered wood floor is creaking.

The Natural and Organic Nature of Wood Floors

First and foremost, let’s remember that wood is a natural, organic product. While this gives it a unique charm and warmth that we all love, it also comes with certain characteristics. Wood is hygroscopic, meaning it reacts to the environment around it, absorbing and releasing moisture as the humidity changes. This can lead to movement within the wood, causing occasional squeaks, crackles, or pops. So, it’s important to understand that some amount of noise is part of living with a wood floor.

The Role of Subfloor in Floor Noise

The subfloor system beneath your wood floor plays a significant role in the noises you might be hearing. In fact, many squeaking and popping noises originate from the subfloor system. Poorly nailed subfloor sheathing, missing joist hangers, and improperly installed subfloor sheathing are some of the most common causes of a squeaky floor originating from the subfloor system. Excessive shrinkage of subfloor materials can also lead to voids, causing your flooring to move and create noise. As flooring professionals, we at California Flooring and Design do our best to address these issues where we can, but it’s not always within our control.

The Impact of Moisture and Seasonal Changes on Wood Floors

Moisture and seasonal changes can have a significant impact on your wood floors. As the temperature and humidity fluctuate, wood expands and contracts. This can lead to some boards moving slightly more than others, resulting in squeaking or creaking noises. Engineered wood flooring, which has been developed to offer improved stability, is not immune to this either, as many homeowners have unfortunately discovered.

The Effect of Installation Methods on Floor Noise

Lastly, the method of installation can have a considerable impact on floor noise. If the subfloor isn’t level or the flooring isn’t properly installed, it can result in movement and friction between the floor and the subfloor, leading to the all-too-familiar squeak. The choice of fasteners used during installation can also affect the performance of your floor and contribute to the creaking noise. For instance, too small a gauge or length can lead to inadequate hold, causing the floor to move and squeak.

Understanding these factors is the first step towards finding an effective solution. In the next section, we’ll dive deeper into the common causes of creaking in engineered wood floors and how to address them.

Common Causes of Creaking in Engineered Wood Floors

Understanding the causes of your new engineered wood floor creaking can help you find the right solutions. Let’s delve deeper into these common causes.

Inadequate Subfloor Material and Preparation

One key cause of floor creaking is the subfloor material and its preparation. For nail installations, the subfloor must be plywood or OSB panels. Particleboard is not suitable. The recommended thickness of subfloor panels is 3/4″ for joists spaced 19” or less apart on center. Anything less than this may cause the floor to creak when it bends. Wider joist spans may also have the same effect. If the subfloor is not firmly attached to the joists with floor screws, this can leave space between the joists and subfloor, causing creaking noises (Pravada Floors).

Improper Installation Methods

Improper installation can also cause creaking. If flooring boards run parallel to the joists, this can decrease stability and cause noise. Furthermore, if the installation process does not follow the guidelines properly, it can result in flooring boards squeaking. It’s essential to ensure that you or your contractor adheres to these guidelines to prevent such issues.

Inadequate Underlayment and Its Deterioration

The underlayment plays an essential role in preventing floor noise. Some urethane-based (foam type) underlayment will eventually lose its resilience. This deterioration can lead to its inability to absorb sound, meaning the slight movements of the floating floor will no longer be insulated by underlayment, resulting in creaking noises (Pravada Floors).

The Role of Humidity and Temperature in Floor Noise

Humidity and temperature changes can also cause your wood floors to creak. Wood is a natural material and is subject to movement due to fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Keeping temperatures and relative humidity at normal values, such as 72° F with 35-40% RH in winter, can help reduce creaking. It may also be beneficial to ensure the area beneath the floor is insulated with a vapor barrier to prevent moisture from seeping into the wood.

In summary, many factors can contribute to your new engineered wood floor creaking. By understanding these causes, you can take the necessary steps to prevent and address them. At California Flooring and Design, we ensure that all these factors are considered during the installation process, providing you with a peaceful and quiet living space.

How to Fix Squeaky Engineered Wood Floors

If you’ve noticed your new engineered wood floor creaking, there’s no need to worry. We at California Flooring and Design understand how disconcerting this can be, but rest assured, there are several effective solutions you can employ. Let’s break them down.

Using Powdered Graphite to Reduce Friction

One common cause of floor squeaking is friction between the floorboards. This can be remedied by using powdered graphite, a substance known for its excellent lubricating properties. By sprinkling the graphite between the squeaky boards and gently rubbing it into the seams with a soft brush or cloth, you can significantly reduce this friction and eliminate the squeak. Be sure to vacuum up any excess graphite to maintain the cleanliness of your floor.

Maintaining Consistent Moisture Levels

Changes in moisture levels can cause your wood floors to expand and contract, leading to creaking noises. It’s important to maintain consistent moisture levels in your home to prevent this. This might involve using a dehumidifier during humid months or a humidifier during dry months. By keeping the environment stable, you can help your wood floors stay silent.

Addressing Voids in the Subfloor

If there are voids or gaps in your subfloor, they can cause movement in your floorboards, leading to squeaking sounds. These voids can be filled with a hollow spot filler or construction adhesive. Once hardened, the adhesive provides a firm base for your floorboards, eliminating movement and noise.

The Role of Lubricants and Hollow Spot Fillers

In some cases, the squeaking noise may be due to friction between the floorboards and the nails or screws holding them in place. When this is the case, lubricating the friction points can eliminate the sound. Household items like talcum powder or specialized products like “Squeeeeek No More” or “Stop Creak” can be used. These products work by reinforcing the connection between the floor and the subfloor, effectively stopping the movement that leads to squeaks.

The key to a successful squeak remedy is accurately identifying the source of the noise and applying the appropriate solution. If you’re still experiencing persistent squeaks despite your best efforts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at California Flooring and Design. We’re here to help you achieve the perfect harmony between beauty and function in your flooring.

Preventing Creaking in Your Engineered Wood Floors

To ensure that your home remains a peaceful sanctuary, it’s important to take steps to prevent your new engineered wood floor from creaking. This requires a few key steps: proper subfloor preparation, following installation guidelines, and maintaining humidity and temperature control.

Ensuring Proper Subfloor Preparation

The first step to a noise-free floor involves preparing your subfloor correctly. This process includes choosing the correct subfloor material and ensuring it’s properly leveled. Particleboard is not a suitable subfloor material for nail installations. Instead, we recommend using plywood or OSB panels.

The thickness of your subfloor panels is also critical. If your joists are spaced 19″ or less apart on center, a subfloor thickness of 3/4″ is recommended. Anything less than this can lead to the floor creaking as it bends under pressure. For wider joist spans, a thicker subfloor may be required.

Following Installation Guidelines

Proper installation is essential in preventing your engineered wood floor from making unwanted noise. When the boards are not installed correctly, they can move against each other and create a squeaking sound.

In particular, improper nail-down installation can cause squeaking. If the subfloor is not firmly attached to the joists with floor screws, it can leave a space between the joists and subfloor, causing the subfloor, not the flooring, to creak.

Moreover, it’s crucial to ensure that the underlayment used during installation doesn’t “sack out.” In other words, if a urethane-based (foam type) underlayment loses its resilience over time, it will stop absorbing sound, leading to the slight movements of the floating floor causing creaking noises.

Maintaining Humidity and Temperature Control

Finally, maintaining a consistent and appropriate level of humidity and temperature can help prevent your new engineered wood floor from creaking.

Wood is a natural material and it responds to changes in its environment. During seasonal changes, when the temperature and humidity fluctuate, the wood can expand and contract, leading to floorboard movement and potential creaking.

Maintain a temperature of around 72° F with 35-40% relative humidity in your home, especially during winter. It might also be beneficial to ensure that the area beneath the floor is insulated with a vapor barrier.

By taking these preventative measures, you can enjoy the beauty and durability of your engineered wood floors without the annoyance of creaking. If you need professional advice or installation services, don’t hesitate to contact us at California Flooring and Design. We’re here to help you enjoy the best possible experience with your hardwood flooring.


Recap of the Causes and Solutions for Creaking Engineered Wood Floors

As we’ve discussed, the cause of new engineered wood floor creaking can be attributed to a variety of factors. These include the inherent properties of wood as a natural material, the impact of seasonal changes, the role of the subfloor, and the installation methods used. However, creaks and squeaks do not necessarily indicate structural issues with your flooring.

Solutions to resolve the creaking involve addressing the causes. One approach involves using powdered graphite to reduce the friction between floorboards. It’s also crucial to maintain consistent moisture levels in your home to prevent excessive expansion and contraction of the wood. If your subfloor is uneven, addressing the voids can help as well. For more persistent creaks, lubricants and hollow spot fillers may offer a solution.

The Importance of Professional Installation and Maintenance

While there are ways you can address creaking floors yourself, it’s important to remember that professional installation and maintenance can prevent many of these issues from arising in the first place. The right installation methods, appropriate underlayment, proper subfloor preparation, and professional advice on maintaining your wood floors can go a long way in preserving the quality and longevity of your flooring. At California Flooring and Design, we are committed to providing the highest quality installation and maintenance services to our clients.

Final Thoughts on the Natural Tendencies of Wood Floors and Noise

Despite the best efforts, the occasional creak or squeak can still occur even in the best-engineered wood floors. This is because wood is a living material that responds to changes in its environment. While these noises can sometimes be annoying, they are a normal part of living with wood floors. The key is to understand the cause of these noises and to take appropriate steps to minimize them.

Squeaky floors are not a sign of poor quality or a lack of durability. They are simply a part of the unique character of wood floors. If you are looking for more detailed information on how to maintain your wood floors, explore some of our other articles, such as how to care for your hardwood floors or how to fix wood floor popping up.