It is a given in life that if you’re going to do something, do it right the first time and it will save you a lot of time and trouble. Many a horror story has been told by flooring inspectors of someone cutting corners, not following industry best practices, or who didn’t bother to read the manufacturer’s instruction. We’ve been talking about the why and how of a squeaky floor, but we’ve saved the scariest type of squeak for last, the squeaks from cutting corners on the job.
The Horror of Hiring Unqualified People
We don’t ever want you to experience the horror of hiring someone unqualified. Wood floors are a top of the line flooring option and are a substantial investment for your home. It also means you need a professional installer who knows the ins and outs of hardwood flooring. When you’re looking for a pro make sure they are checking moisture levels, acclimating the wood before installation, and properly preparing the subfloor. Oh and for the pros out there, are you keeping up with your training and industry best practices? You don’t want to be “that contractor.”
We have many great resources here to help you troubleshoot current problems and prevent future ones. See all of our resources here.
The Haunting of an Out of Control Environment
We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again: the first thing you do when your floor starts to squeak is check the environment. The home and homeowner has a big part in keeping the environment correct. A properly controlled environment (which is 60-80 degrees and 35-55% relative humidity) helps to keep the scary squeaks away. On the other hand, with an out-of-control environment, you may think your house is haunted!
Shudder about A Bad Foundation
Before the boards are nailed or glued in place, your subfloor must be clean, sound, dry, and flat. If not, you may shudder in terror at the ramifications. Unfortunately, moisture testing a concrete slab subfloor is often skipped prior to installation. This can lead to excess moisture in the concrete being transferred to your wood flooring.
Subfloor joists need to be straight, and plywood panels need to be flat. If your subfloor squeaks before your flooring is installed, it will continue to squeak after installation.
Product in the Wrong Area that is Hair Raising
There are so many different types of hardwood floors. However the wrong type of floor in the wrong space is hair raising. The type of floor you choose depends on what subfloor and on which level of your home you are installing in. Engineered flooring is normally recommended for on or below grade, whereas above grade floors can be engineered or solid hardwood. But a solid floor in a basement may be the decision you regret.
The Nightmare of a Bad Installation
A bad installation is the stuff of nightmares. Boards that aren’t acclimated prior to installation will later settle into their new space and fit too tightly or too loosely causing problems. There’s also the problems with sloppy workmanship where boards are moving around or are so snug there is no room to expand with seasonal changes. Then there may be problems with the wrong nailing pattern: too many or too few nails can result in the product breaking and causing extreme squeaks.
The Shock of Bad Milling / Bad Product
This should be caught by the installer before it goes down, but once a floor is installed, most manufacturers will say that installation is acceptance of the material. It’s why picking a contractor with correct qualifications is so important. You need someone who can spot a problem with a product before it becomes a floor and you are shocked by the incessant squeaking.
What is Even Scarier…
One more thing to remember is that most flooring manufacturers don’t warranty squeaks. Squeaks are almost always job site, installation, or environment related and usually show up after installation. The manufacturer has little to no control of what happens between the installation and the squeak starting. It makes it all the more critical to have the right wood for your space and for the floor to be installed correctly per the manufacturer’s instructions. Scary as all this seems, we’re always here to help you make the right hardwood flooring decision for your home.