What’s the most common complaint about wood flooring installations gone wrong?
Creaky, hollow sounding floors that develop quickly after the installation process is complete.
They can detract so much from the final project that you decide never to install wood floors again.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. The right installer knows how to avoid this problem long before it begins.
Hollow spots are often blamed on adhesives. That’s rarely the cause. If the adhesive were bad, it would cause problems throughout the room, not just in one spot. And most complaints about hollow spots occur in specific sections of the room.
The most common reason for hollow spots is not getting the subflooring correct. If the concrete substrate doesn’t meet industry requirements, it won’t provide the right surface for the wood floor to reside on.
The National Wood Flooring Association recommends the substrate for an engineered hardwood floor to be no more than 3/16 inch deflection or variance in the slab within a 10-foot radius of the floor. If the radius is greater, proper steps should be used to rectify the situation before installation continues. That includes grinding the substrate and/or leveling it by pouring cement underlayment to achieve flatness.
The flatness of the substrate is imperative when installing boards that are greater than ½ inch thick, or greater than 5 inches wide. The thicker or wider the board, the less likely it will conform to any deflection or variance with the substrate. This means the greater likelihood of a hollow spot.
Of course, it isn’t the only problem that can cause a hollow spot. Other problems include not applying the right amount of adhesive. If the flooring and adhesive lose contact when being installed or doing the curing process, a hollow spot will occur. Weights should be used if the wood has the possibility of rising up during the process. The installer should also use the proper flooring trowel to ensure a sufficient amount of adhesive is laid down.
For some hollow spots, removing the wood flooring, flattening the substrate, and replacing the wood is the only way to correct the problem.
In other cases, injection repair kits are available to allow an installer to inject additional adhesive under the flooring. This works when specific areas are popping up or voids have developed.
Installation isn’t a time to skimp on materials. Always use premium grade pressure sensitive wood flooring adhesive to ensure it will remain tacky for the lifetime of your flooring.