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This laminate floor has a broken locking joint which is allowing movement between two boards. The result is an audible squeaking noise when the area is walked on. The locking joint broke soon after installation because the flooring was installed over top of an uneven sub-floor.
National and manufacturer leveling standards are 3mm + or - over 3000mm
Click here for the full national flooring specification for sub-floor leveling and acceptable conditions.
Hardwood flooring and in floor, hot water, radiant heating systems can work very well together. Just follow these tips..
Maintaining a consistent, normal heat and relative humidity
(average living conditions) before, during and after installation will ensure minimal shrinkage, expansion and hardwood floor stress.
Only deliver the wood flooring to site after the site has been confirmed dry.
Concrete subfloors: Residual moisture in the concrete substrate exceeding a 3 lb MVER (Moisture Vapor Emission Rate) has the potential to cause swelling, buckling and shrinkage of the flooring product. Use the approved moisture test method: Anhydrous Calcium Chloride test, performed in
accordance with ASTM F -1869.
Plywood subfloors: Floor plywood substrates confirm that the plywood is dry all the way through its thickness at 12%. There should be no more than a 4% spread in moisture content between the subfloor and the hardwood flooring.
Avoid choosing light woods such as natural maple as any gaps will show up black in strong contrast to the lighter wood surface.
Note that most flooring issues are caused by improper site conditions, excess moisture levels in the subfloor, improper acclimation and inadequate subfloor preparation.
The following ‘Acceptable Conditions’ must be confirmed prior to shipping wood flooring to site.
• The home must be at lock up stage and the interior protected from outside conditions – all outside windows and doors must be installed.
• All wet trades such as tile and dry wall mudding should be finished.
• Wall paint: If water based paint is to be used, apply undercoats prior to flooring delivery. Final coat and touch ups can be applied after installation.
• If a cementitious underlayment is used to level the subfloor it should NOT be poured while the flooring is on site. Once poured, confirm the cement underlayment is dry before delivering wood flooring to site.
Special note: The subfloor must be flattened to NFCA standards which are:
1/8” + or – over 10’ in 360 degrees.
• The heating systems thermostat dial must be installed and operating so that gradual (5 degrees per day) temperature adjustments can be made as necessary.
• The indoor ambient temperature should be set at approximately 18 - 20c.
• Floor temperature should not be allowed to exceed 26c or dip below 15c.
• Ambient relative humidity should be maintained between 35% and 55%
• With these conditions established, the flooring should be delivered to and left in, the installation area for a minimum of 4 days with any plastic wrapping around the packs cut open. For solid wood flooring an acclimation period of 7 days is recommended. Always check individual manufacturers instructions and do as they instruct.
• Flooring should be stacked in a log cabin fashion on the heated floor to facilitate air circulation.
Floor protection: Cover the floor with builders paper, tape the paper at the seems (not to the floor). Do not cover with thick layers of protection such as drywall or plywood as these products can insulate risking overheating of the floor covering.
Ask questions of your flooring supplier because if you don't then you are part of the problem featured in this episode of '16x9' which was aired recently on Global TV.
With a concrete subfloor should you choose a floating hardwood floor or one that is glued down? The following list of pros and cons should assist you in making the right choice.
The first thing you should do however is check with your buildings strata (if there is one). Quite often there are rules in place that govern the method of hardwood flooring installation and type of sound insulation used.
Lets start with the floating floor method of installation.
The term 'floating hardwood floor' refers to the method of installation. A floating floor rests on underlay and is not fixed to the substrate or sub-floor. Essentially, gravity holds the floor down.
1. Less expensive than the glue down alternative due to less installation time and minimal adhesive cost.
2. Easier to install especially for the 'do-it-yourselfer'
3. Quieter for your neighbors below. The two air pockets between the flooring and underlay and between the underlay and the concrete break down sound transference between you and your neighbors.
4. A finished floating floor deflects or 'gives' sightly when walked on. This makes living on the floor easier on your legs and back. Don't worry, the movement in the floor is to be expected because the floor rests on a soft underlay however the amount of deflection must not be excessive. 1/8" is acceptable. Your concrete sub-floor should be flattened properly before your flooring contractor. This work is considered a billable extra. You should have no sudden drops or ridges in the concrete before you begin installation. Inadequate or poor flattening will leave excessive soft spots in the finished floor which can cause movement and lead to problems later on.
5. Sound-barrier. There are many sound-rated underlays on the market, each with their own pros and cons.
Look for the IIC rating on the product (Impact Insulation Class) and the test parameters. Your situation must mimic the test scenario if you are to get the sound rating advertised. These ratings measure the amount of sound generated by an impact (foot falling, object dropping) transferring through the concrete sub-floor to the space below in a test setting. The higher the IIC number the less sound transference. The other rating number is STC (Sound Transmission Class) which measures ambient, resinating sound, such as voices or noise from a TV. There are many company's that offer such products with STC and IIC ratings that claim numbers between 54 and 73. Underlays can only achieve such high acoustical ratings when tested in conjunction with the sub-floor and substrate. Follow this link for a list of BCFCA distributor members who could help answer questions.
Glue down floors
1. With this method of installation, the finished floor feels stronger and more solid underfoot. This is because the floor design doesn't allow for movement or slight deflection.
2. Noise. Imagine the sound of a foot step on a glue down floor to be a 'dull thud' as opposed to a brighter 'clack' sound that comes with the floating floor design. The sound of the floor is generally quieter to live with because less noise is reflected back into the room you are in.
3. Expense. Glue down floors are more labour-intensive to install. The adhesive alone will add significant cost. If a sound barrier is required, then it will need to be glued to the concrete first, adding yet another cost per square foot for the adhesive PLUS labour to install.
4. Removing a glue down floor is a tough job. The adhesive is very strong and designed not to let go.
5. When gluing hardwood to concrete slab on grade a special moisture barrier may be required. This will also add material and labour costs to install, whereas a moisture barrier for floating floors is inexpensive.
We (Master Floor Covering Standards institute) were inspecting a job site recently where an old commercial building was to receive approximately 40,000 sqft of new resilient flooring. The General Contractor had the responsibility of removing the old VCT and leaving the subfloor clean, smooth, dry and free of waxes, dirt, etc. as per the NFCA Floor Covering Reference Manual. in other words 'ready for the flooring contractor to arrive and get on with the job'. Before installation could begin moisture testing in accordance with the NFCA Manual and to the ASTM standards was required. This meant 3 tests for the first 1000sqft and one test for every 1000sqft there after, total 42 tests. It was at this point the GC suggested to the building owner that moisture tests would not be needed because of the expense and because the original slab was 40+ years old. The building owner asked for our opinion and we were clear that they would be required if they wanted the flooring manufacturers warranty in place. 42 tests went ahead and 45% of them failed. As a result a moisture mitigation system was installed by the GC and the project moved forward with warranty intact.
Carpet floor coverings hide a multitude of sub-floor sins and so when buying new carpet you mostly don't incur extra costs due to sub-floor leveling. However, in the world of hardwood flooring things are very different.
In our experience, roughly 6 out of 10 sub-floors will need a small to moderate amount of leveling, 3 out of 10 will need a significant amount and one will be so bad that it is cost prohibitive to fix the sub-floor and so the choice to go back to carpet is made.
Leveling adds time and money to the whole project. Ignoring the need for sub-floor leveling to save money is not a good idea because once the hardwood is installed the sub-floor cannot be corrected.
The result of installing hardwood flooring over an uneven sub-floor can be:
The problems that come with an uneven sub-floor become evident once the floor is installed. If you install a floating floor over an uneven surface then you will notice soft spots where the floor dips when walked on.
Note that a small amount of movement is normal and to be expected with a floating floor because the underlay beneath the hardwood is supposed to compress. The problem of movement arises when the hardwood flooring is allowed to bridge two high spots in the sub-floor, say 5' apart, leaving a low spot in between. The flooring is not designed to span high spots and cannot support weight in this way. Subsequently the floor deflects down into the low spot when walked on. If the floor deflects more than 1/8" (3mm) in 10' then the industry standard has not been met.
Cosmetic cracks in concrete slabs (as shown in this image) usually represent high spots in the concrete. These are not unusual to see. This picture shows about a 1/8" width crack that is about 6' long. Such cracks don't pose a structural threat unless something is obviously wrong such as a difference in height between one side of the crack and the other, if there is movement in the concrete or significant width to the crack such 1/4" or more.
High spots in the concrete will need to be ground down using a grinder with a diamond tip blade. Lots of dust is generated so a vacuum attachment should be used with this tool.
Larger areas should not be hand ground as an uneven surface may be left behind effecting the floor covering. Consult a concrete grinding specialist and use a bigger machine (as seen in this image).
It takes three separate trips to site to take an Anhydrous Calcium Chloride moisture test properly and in accordance with ASTM F1869.
1. Grind off the surface layer of concrete where the dome test is to be applied and leave exposed for 24 hours.
2. Return to site to place the plastic dome test.
3. Return to site 60 to 72 hours later to collect the results.
When the NFCA Floor Covering Reference Manual is specified on the job it becomes the responsibility of the General Contractors and/or the building owner to provide and pay for such testing through a third party testing agency. The flooring contractor should not be responsible to provide such testing as he/she has no control over the site and so cannot protect against active tests being spoiled by other trades.
Master Floor Covering Standards Institute.
Before you can teach an old dog new tricks, you must know one thing........ More than the dog!
Although consumers today spend a lot of time shopping on line, their purchases, when it comes to flooring, are usually done at a flooring retailer?
A consumer appreciates the "touch and feel" of the flooring they will purchase, as it will reflect their lifestyle for many years to come. Developing a relationship, sharing experiences, information, and needs,exhibits confidence to a consumer, and will win them over. Knowledge should be shared, 80% of consumers depend on the guidance of a sales person to help with their purchase decision when it comes to flooring.
Director, Stanley Cooper Timber & Stone ltd.
Something as simple as a clean washed adhesive trowel can mean the difference between a successful flooring installation and a failure! A specific notched trowel isn’t just a way to get adhesive to the substrate, it’s also a metering device to put down a specific amount of adhesive for the product that is being installed. When those trowel notches get filled with dirt and debris you are limiting the amount of adhesive going onto the substrate, in many cases much less adhesive than is required to get the recommended bond. Every time a significant amount of adhesive is applied it’s imperative that the trowel is washed and cleaned or a new trowel is used. A simple bucket of water that the trowels can be put into to soak so they are clean and ready for re-use will go a long way to ensure enough adhesive is going on the substrate. The result.... a greater chance for a successful installation and a happy customer.
Forbo Flooring Systems
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