Fix a Squeaky Laminate Floor
LESLIE: Ryan in Alaska listens to The Money Pit on KENI. And you’ve got some squeaky floors. Where are they?
RYAN: Oh, it’s all over my house. I put in some Pergo laminate flooring; the hardwood type flooring.
RYAN: And then … I just put it in a couple … like a month ago. And all the seams are squeaking.
TOM: So, Ryan, you think it’s the new laminate flooring that’s squeaking? It’s not the floor underneath?
RYAN: Yeah, I’m positive it’s the laminate flooring that’s squeaking.
RYAN: It’s a brand new house and the house never had any squeaks. Well, it’s about a two-year-old house but it never had any squeaks until I put the flooring in. But the flooring is flexing at the seams where they snap together.
LESLIE: They might have too much room.
TOM: Or not enough room.
TOM: I tell you what. I have never, ever heard anybody tell me that a laminate floor squeaks. Which leads me to believe that it … that it might be the installation here. Or it might be the subfloor underneath is now getting pressured in a new way and developing those squeaks. Now is this over a plywood subfloor?
RYAN: Yeah, it’s over a plywood subfloor and it’s … I didn’t use … it’s that laminate flooring that has the backing on it, you know.
TOM: Yes, has like a foam backing?
RYAN: Yeah. And then, at the store that I purchased the product from, they told me to put another piece of foam stuff underneath of that.
RYAN: And I think … and I’m wondering if that’s giving it too much play.
TOM: Yeah, I wonder if that’s the case because …
LESLIE: Yeah, because the reason why they put that underlayment directly on those planks on the laminate floor, is to get rid of the need for an additional underlayment. So there just might not be enough room. Because if the joints are bowing, something’s tight, I think.
TOM: Yeah, it shouldn’t be moving like that. It sounds like it might be a little bit too tight. Did you leave plenty of room at the edge of the floor?
RYAN: Yeah, I did. All over … ¼ inch around the whole house.
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what. I think, in this case, I might want to give that manufacturer a call; see if they have any information from consumers. Because I’ve heard of an awful lot of floor squeaking complaints over the years, but I’ve never heard of a laminate floor squeaking. So I’m afraid that I can’t …
RYAN: Yeah. The only thing I can think of is that my subfloor – even though it looked fine to me, but maybe … maybe it’s not all … maybe it has some low spots in it or something.
TOM: Well, that’s what I was thinking initially because, even though it’s a two-year-old floor, it’s even more likely to squeak than an older floor because that’s when those things dry out and move. And subfloors, in new construction, are nailed in with a nail that’s glue coated. It’s known as a cooler because when you drive the nail in, the friction heats it up and the glue melts and then it sort of gets stuck in place. But what happens is they eventually work their way out of the joist and, as they do, they make a horrible noise. And so, if you had any loose boards anywhere – and maybe the pressure from whatever floor system you had before was a little bit different than you have with this laminate floor – you could, literally, be pushing on that floor in new spots that you never did before.
That’s why before you put down a new floor – I don’t care if it’s carpet or laminate or tile – it makes sense to go through the subfloor, when you can see it and it’s that easy to get to, and screw it down with some hardened drywall screws so it’s really nice and tight and it could never pull out again.
LESLIE: Yeah. It just sounds like it’s not … there’s not enough room. That’s why when you step, it’s bowing up. Because it doesn’t have room to expand as you step on it and move around.
RYAN: Okay. Did you … I had one more question. Is it standard practice to glue that laminate flooring together or do most people just snap them together? Because I didn’t glue it together.
TOM: Well, actually, with some manufacturers – when you put it in a damp area, like a bathroom – they require you to glue that self-locking joint together. But with other manufacturers, perhaps not. So the fact that you … where was this room that you did? Was it a living …?
RYAN: It’s the living room.
TOM: Yeah. No, I don’t think so. Not unless the instructions specifically called for it. The ones that I’m familiar with, you only have to apply glue if it’s in a damp area like a bathroom.
TOM: Okay, Ryan? Thanks again for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. What an unusual situation.
LESLIE: Yeah, it seems like he’s done everything to alleviate the problem. But something is off and I think it’s the underlayment.
TOM: It sounds like that could just be the hot ticket.
1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. And that’s a great example of one. We’ll see if we can help you out. 1-888-666-3974.