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Dropping Knowledge - Why Wood Floors Creak

The Problem

Click system flooring has become very popular in recent times due to the ease with which it can be laid over existing floors and subfloors.

Click system floors come in the engineered wood and laminate variety, and when fitted, they lie on top of your existing floor like a giant jigsaw puzzle with tight, interlocking sections. 

When the floor is new, the wood contains a 6-9% moisture content. It is advised that you acclimatise the wood first before installing so that the wood can shrink or swell before locking the sections of wood together. This typically involves and packing the floor in the same room that it will be laid and letting it sit a room temperature (with the heating on) for 14 days.

This creates several problems for most people. In 95% of cases the floor is taken from a warehouse when ordered and onsite within 2-3 days. It is then typically unpacked and laid immediately and if the building is new, then it is unlikely the heating will be on at all. If you have underfloor heating then it it even more likley the floor will be laid at a temperature that is far below the typical temperature the floor will be exposed to thereafter.

Over time wood naturally loses its moisture content causing the wood panels to shrink. This shrinkage means the floor sections are not snuggly fitted together and movement begins to occur in the interlocking sections and this process is expedited if the floor has been laid in extreme cold or hot weather. 
With each floor panel slightly smaller than when it was new, the panels start to move underfoot and this movement leads to increasingly frequent creaking which is sometimes more noticeable in the summer when the heating is off and the floor is cool (contracted) .

Shrinkage of the floor is a natural occurrence in natural materials like wood and shrinkage and swelling will naturally occur, so the creaking you hear is a natural byproduct of using natural materials. 

The other part of this problem is that floor manufacturers recommend you increase the ambient temperature of the room by 1 degree per day until the the required temperature is reached. Doing this prevents fluctuations in the floor moisture content by gradually introducing more heat each day.

The reality is that almost no one knows that this is a requirement for new floors and for people that live in colder climates, living in a cold house for 14-21 days while you break in a  floor is simply not practical.  The bnet result is that most people turn on the heating once the floor is laid and get on with their life, and this is when the creaking starts. 

Once your floor begins to creak it will get worse each week as the interlocking section rub and wear out. The creaking you hear is the sound of wood on wood without lubrication and if left too long, the floor panels will become loose and may even detach from each other.

Solution

Stop Creak can help by applying a frictionless resin to the small gaps in the interlocking sections of the floor, therefore allowing the floor sections to move freely, without friction/creaks. Allowing the floor to move freely means that no only does it function quietly but it also prevent premature wear in the floor.

There are limitations though.  Stop Creak cannot silence creaks that are due to subfloor issues. If your subfloor is chipboard, the creaking may be coming from this area or the nails that hold the subfloor down.

In these instances,  Stop Creak will probably not help reduce creaks and we would instead recommend consulting with a flooring expert about your available options.