New laminate flooring is beautiful, long lasting and easy to maintain and when installed properly it will give the homeowner many years of carefree use.
From time to time however people have complained of irritating squeaking noises coming from their floor when they step on it. Such noises are generally caused by movement of the boards causing a rubbing against one another or against a wall or doorway. The most common reason there is movement in the boards is that the flooring underneath is not smooth enough. That unevenness in the subfloor results in the flexing of the laminate boards and a rubbing together which causes the noises.
It is the installer's responsibility to check the conditions of the subfloor before he begins the installation. He should be certain that there is less than 3/16" variance in 10 ft., or 1/8" variance in 6 ft.
If he is installing the laminate flooring over concrete, the problem is easily solved by topping the concrete with a thin layer of leveling compound.
Over a suspended wood floor however, he may have to do a little more work. He would first have to make certain that the sheets of subfloor are firmly attached to the floor joists and that there is no movement between the subfloor sheets themselves or between the sheets and the floor joists. If the floor is not smooth enough, as with a concrete floor, he should skim coat the floor to get it smooth and level and carefully belt sand where necessary.
The key to avoiding noisy laminate flooring is proper installation. Here are a few other thoughts:
- Check the locking mechanisms to be sure none are broken. These mechanisms hold the planks in place.
- Always use the manufacturer's recommended underlayment.
- Leave room for expansion around the perimeter of the room – usually a ¼" to ½" expansion zone is required.
- Don't install cabinets or an island on your laminate floor.
- Don’t create "pinch-points" on the floor i.e. wall base sitting too tightly on the laminate, or quarter round nailed into the floor.
As the old saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Following the manufacturer's installation instructions to prevent movement is the surest way to get a fabulous installation. Doing the job right the first time is much less expensive than going back and trying to correct a careless installation.
NOTE: We have heard reports that some people have used talcum powder or WD-40 to fix the squeaking sounds. Accordingly, we do not endorse those fixes to eliminate noises and squeaks in laminate floors.
We hope this has been a helpful overview of explaining the noise and squeaking causes in laminate floors. When you know what’s involved with your purchase, you can save a lot of money and avoid making an unhappy mistake.
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Pros and cons of laminate
Proper trims and moldings for laminate flooring
Should you buy laminate
What you need to know
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Your laminate floor:
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Choosing your new laminate
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