Cracking noises when we walk on engineered wood floors

Q: I had engineered wood floors installed almost 2 years ago. The floor continues to make cracking noises when we walk on it. What is causing the cracking sounds and is it due to faulty installation?

Also, the installer used silicone caulking to glue the bottom of the baseboards to the wood floors, is that normal?

A: It sounds like the surface the floor was installed on may not be totally flat, so when you walk on the floor it moves up and down causing a rubbing between boards or panels. I doubt he was attempting to glue the base to the floor.

Again if the sub floor was not flat, there would be spaces under parts of the base. He may have used caulking to fill that in. Also, if he felt a draft coming under the base, that would be another reason for the caulking.

Related, not the subfloor Q: Since the day they were installed about six months ago, our hardwood floors ‘crackle’ when we walk on them. (It is definitely the boards themselves, and not the subfloor squeaking.) It occurs all over: in the living room, hallway, etc.

This is a second floor installation. The first floor is fully finished and heated. Living room humidity ranges from about 35 to 55%. Our contractor says floor is not perfectly level, but he’s seen worse (and never had this degree of crackling.) Suggestions?

A: I would let the floor go through a couple of seasonal cycles. I installed one floor that had such a tight fit on the tongue and groove, it was difficult to work with. For a number of months it wold make cracking sounds all on it’s own. No doubt, this was from slight movement as the floor reacted to humidity conditions in the home. It adjusted in time.

Related Q: I had my pine floors sanded and polished and now as the weather heats up I hear this sharp cracking noise, sometimes when I walk on it, sometimes not. Is this anything I should worry about?

A: You have a bit of movement with some of the planks and perhaps some of the finish having seeped between the boards is likely cracking from the movement. The only possible issue I could see is if the finish has bridged over a gap between two planks. If there is movement with the boards, up and down, it could cause this bridged finish to crack and possibly even chip along the board edge. This is more likely to happen with water based coatings which don’t stretch as much as oil based coatings will.