Engineered hardwood floor popping noise – I have engineered hardwood floors in two rooms. The problem seems to be that the boards are not glued together perfectly, and you can hear a popping noise when I walk on them. This is a brand new installation. It was installed one week ago, and it’s been down for one day. My husband stepped on one piece of wood four times to see if the noise was from our footsteps. It is not from us walking across the floor. Is this normal, or should I be concerned? If it’s a problem, what can we do to fix it?
Unlevel subfloors are typically responsible for this type of noise after installation. The boards may have been out of whack during installation or became out of alignment while the adhesive dried.
The engineered hardwood floor popping noise should disappear after a couple of weeks as the boards expand and contract, settling them in place.
If you have significant gaps between boards, leave a door open, allowing airflow to speed up the process. If possible, use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
If the gaps are relatively small, you can try working some wood shavings into them.
Put some glue on a popsicle stick and work it into the gap.
Use wood filler over the top of this patch if needed. Generally speaking, you should not have any significant problems with your installation as long as the floor is flat and level.
Unlevel subfloor or if the boards were not glued together correctly: If the gaps between panels are relatively small, you can try working some wood shavings into them. Put some glue on a popsicle stick and work it into the hole, then sprinkle sawdust over that to help fill in the space. You will need to wipe off the excess before it starts to harden. Use wood filler over the top of this patch if required. Generally speaking, you should not have any major problems with your installation as long as the floor is flat and level.
Shim under cabinets or heavy furniture legs.
Loose subfloors are typically only an issue when it’s time to clean or move heavy furniture across them. You can minimize this type of noise by shimming under cabinets or furniture legs during installation.
Engineered hardwood floor popping noise
The popping or clicking noise is one of the most common issues when installing engineered flooring on wooden subfloors. It’s caused by the expansion and contraction of boards and can be more noticeable in low moisture areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, or air-conditioned rooms.
Prompted by the question about engineered wood floor popping noise, we’d like to offer some tips on how to get rid of or reduce noises and stress cracks:
- First, do not install engineered flooring if the subfloor is not flat enough. If there are any severely unlevel areas in your home, you should consider hiring a professional to fix them before installing your new solid hardwood flooring. You can check out our article about how to fix the unlevel floor for more information.
- Suppose the subfloor is very flat and you’ve already installed engineered wood flooring. In that case, we recommend adding underlayment pads under your new hardwood to reduce stress cracks caused by the expansion of boards. We also suggest checking out our article about types of underlayment pads.
- Sometimes installing thicker solid hardwood flooring could also fix the popping noise problem. It’s because wider planks can expand and contract less than thinner ones(3/4″ vs. 1/2″).
- If you’re planning to install engineered wood flooring in low moisture places such as the kitchen or bathroom, we always suggest using water-resistant glue. Although it is not necessary, water-resistant glue is more suitable for the area with higher humidity.
- If you’re installing engineered wood flooring on a concrete subfloor, we also recommend checking out this article. It’s about how to prepare your subfloor and what you need to know before starting a project.
- If you’ve already installed the hardwood and you can see some popping noise or stress cracks, you can try to correct them by sanding the surface. If it’s not possible, you should consider refinishing your floor.
- The other reason for clicking floors could be installation issues. Installing engineered wood on too thick foam underlayment, using insufficient adhesive, or using the wrong type of nails can create stress cracks. Check out our related articles about laying engineered wood flooring and what types of glue should be used.
- In some cases, engineered hardwood floor popping noise could be just a manufacturing defect. If you have bought your floor from a reputable dealer(e.g., Lumber Liquidators), they should have a reasonable return policy. It’s always good to check those things beforehand.
How to remove scratches from engineered wood floors
Engineered wood floors are trendy because of their low cost and good durability. However, they sometimes scratch easily. Damaged engineered wood floors can be repaired by following these easy steps:
Make sure you have the following tools at hand before beginning to repair the damaged surface:
- 100 grit sandpaper
- A handheld orbital sander
- A tack cloth or a rag soaked with denatured alcohol
Apply water to the damaged area using a damp cloth and allow it to soak for 5 minutes. This step is very important because once the polymerized finish (the layer that gives wood its shine) has been scratched, it can no longer be restored by adding coats of varnish. This is because water will not penetrate the wood as quickly as oil does, and varnish cannot bond with water.
Scrape away loose debris using a putty knife or a plastic card. Make sure to use the 100 grit sandpaper to remove any remaining dirt and dust particles from the grooves and scratches of the damaged area. Make sure to avoid scratching any surrounding areas with your tools.
Put on the rubber gloves and apply denatured alcohol over the damaged area using a rag or a tack cloth. You can also use acetone, but keep in mind that it will damage some types of floors. Allow the chemical to dry for approximately 30 minutes or until it no longer feels wet or slippery.
Use the handheld orbital sander for sanding away scratches on engineered wood floors. Sweep across the damaged area in only one direction with your tool, keeping your arms steady and press down evenly. You can also use a vacuum cleaner hose to remove dust from the grooves of the floor if you do not feel comfortable using an electric tool in your hands.
Take a pencil and mark the edges of the repaired area with it. Use the 100 grit sandpaper to carefully sand away both sides of this line until they are smooth. Apply another coat of denatured alcohol over the surface and allow it to dry completely (approximately 30 minutes).
Use a tack cloth, a rag or a brush to apply varnish over the repaired area. Allow it to dry for at least 24 hours, and then you can use your floor usually.
Note: Before applying any substance inside your home, do this test on a small, inconspicuous part of your engineered wood floors first to make sure they don’t react badly to it.
Now you know how to remove scratches from engineered wood floors! You should also know that a scratched engineered wood floor can be sanded and refinished by a professional if the scratch is within the last 8-10 feet of wood fibers. If it’s not, then you’re better off refinishing the entire floor instead of trying to fix the scratch.
Types of underlayment for engineered hardwood flooring
Underlayment is the layer of material that acts as a transition between your flooring and your subfloor. It has several functions, including helping to avoid squeaks when you walk on your new flooring, increasing the sound insulation in your room, and reducing frictional noise (such as footfalls) inside the house.
When installing new floors on an existing wood subfloor, it is important to ensure your underlayment is installed correctly. Otherwise, you risk creating the following problems:
Permanent squeaks (caused by inadequate shock absorption)
An uneven floor surface (caused by insufficient insulation of the subfloor)
An extra layer between your subfloor and flooring can also create an obstacle when trying to attach molding or quarter rounds.
The underlayment is installed after the subfloor has been prepared for laying your new hardwood floors but before the plywood is nailed into place. If you have solid wood or engineered wood subfloor, then install the underlayment before laying the new floors. If you have a concrete subfloor, then install the underlayment after the floor has been prepared but before it has dried completely.
Environmental issues related to laminate and engineered wood flooring has
This issue has been a concern for many years. The use of formaldehyde as an adhesive in laminate and engineered wood flooring has been identified as contributing to indoor air quality problems. Many state agencies have taken notice and are evaluating the problem. In addition, litigation against manufacturers has increased over the past few years, with some lawsuits already being resolved through settlement.
Formaldehyde is a colorless gas produced naturally by the human body and is exhaled from animals like cows and cats. Formaldehyde can also be found in cigarette smoke, car exhausts, and building materials such as pressed wood products. It is used commercially in countless applications; however, one of its most common uses has been in the adhesive that holds down the layers of laminate and engineered wood flooring. While formaldehyde can be found in other home products, such as particleboard and hardwood plywood, it is typically not present at levels high enough to create an indoor air quality problem.
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in litigation against manufacturers of laminate and engineered wood products. Some potential plaintiffs have achieved significant results. For example, in 2005, $66 million dollars was awarded to a group of homeowners after Honeywell International was found liable for damages related to the off-gassing of formaldehyde from its laminate flooring product called “Lincrusta.” In addition, large settlements have been reached in New York, Florida, and California.
At the federal government’s request, the National Academy of Sciences recently began conducting a formal risk assessment to determine whether formaldehyde released from laminate flooring has in fact, posed an indoor air quality problem in homes across America. The National Academy of Sciences is expected to complete its study in 2009.
In the meantime, how do you know if your home contains laminate or engineered wood flooring, and what can you do to protect yourself? There are several strategies that homeowners can use to determine if their house contains any pressed wood products:
- Look for paper or foil behind baseboard moldings;
- Look for a raised edge on the floor that would be difficult to clean;
- Pull up carpeting from under furniture or in storage areas and look for particle board or plywood;
- In damp climates, it is sometimes possible to smell an odor coming from untreated wood. This may indicate that formaldehyde gas has been used as a preservative. Only close inspection may reveal whether or not the wood has been finished because some manufacturers put out press releases claiming their product is free of formaldehyde;
- Collect dust samples around your home and submit them to an accredited laboratory for analysis. The results will indicate what chemicals are present in the air you breathe every day.
If you discover pressed wood products in your home, the next step would be to investigate how to remove or encapsulate these products. For example, if there is a laminate flooring problem, several options are available, depending on the severity of the off-gassing.
The simplest type of mitigation may involve removing only the contaminated flooring and replacing it with a laminate product manufactured from sustainable wood sources. Some manufacturers have reformulated their products to reduce formaldehyde concentrations, while others simply do not use the adhesive containing formaldehyde in most of their products.
If you have any other questions about engineered hardwood floor popping noise, feel free to leave us a comment below or contact us directly.