Creaking and Noise in Floating Timber Floors

It is not unusual for a timber floor, particularly a ‘floated’ one, to crackle and creak a little when walked on, and some floors will do this more than others. The sound comes from the flooring rubbing where it is jointed. Often when in service the sub-floor will not be absolutely flat and when it is walked on, the flexing and the rubbing of adjacent board edges and end joints, results in noise from the floor. It is for this reason that the substrate needs to be flat and of a high standard to prevent excessive movement under foot.

There are two main locking systems that are used for floating flooring; tongue and groove (T&G) and ‘click’ systems. A number of different ‘click’ designs have been patented, but the most common tend to be the UniClick or Valinge types.

Professional installation of Tongue & Groove flooring (T&G) using a cross linked PVA glue, will provide a more silent and comfortable floor compared to ‘click’ systems.

People tend to prefer click systems because there are no glues required, its installation requires less skill and it is easier to install and easier to replace any damaged boards, should that ever become necessary. Click systems also appeal to the DIY market and customers who are looking to lower their installation costs.

Tongue & Groove & Valinge Flooring Systems

With glueless systems (click) the joints are often waxed, which provides added moisture protection to joints and reduces rubbing and squeaking of the boards. However, the flatness of the subfloor is still vitally important in avoiding noise, particularly with the ‘Click” type floors. Unfortunately not all products on the market have waxed joints or may not have wax present on the end joints, and this can lead to squeaking as the boards rub when walked on.

Sufficient provision for expansion is a critical element in the design and installation of all floating floors, as expansion over large expanses of flooring can skew sections of the floor, inducing unevenness which can then also result in squeaking and noise.

In regards to Tongue and Groove type systems, their joints are fitted together so that the floor becomes a solid surface. In the case of glue-down installation, adhesive is spread to stick the floors directly to the substrate; whereas floating floors are laid over a layer of foam underlayment and left loose on the floor, with each board held in place by the boards on either side of it.

As with other timber floors, it must be recognised that a small amount of squeaking and noise is considered acceptable and should be expected.