Floor popping after refinishing

Q: Oh my goodness….. We just had carpet ripped up and prefinished ash laced in to an existing prefinished ash floor. The installer then sanded everything down and restained. I went to look at it tonight and every single step I take makes a very loud “popping” creaking sound. It sounds like the fourth of July! Interestingly enough, everywhere the original floors were made no discernible sound.

Only on the areas where the new floor was laid. I have not yet paid the installer. I sent him a message asking about it and so far no response. Is this due to a faulty installation? Is it something that goes away after the floor “settles”? I have a whole series of other work scheduled to be done before I move in which is only 10 days from now so I would rather not have to redo the floor, but I cannot live with the sound it is making. Thanks for your help,

A: It seems clear to me this should not be happening. Did he nail adequately? Did he make sure the sub floor was secured before beginning the installation? Did he acclimate the new floor before starting the installation? Did he make sure the ash was within 4% moisture content to the sub floor? So many questions. So few answers. It is easy enough to find out how far spaced out his nails, cleats or staples are. Get one of those magnetic stud finders and run it down the edge of the planks. Any time you pass over a nail it should point downward. You should find a nail at least every 10 inches or less.

Follow-up Q: Thanks for getting back to me.We questioned the installer and he claims that it is because he did three coats of water based sealer and there is so much moisture. We made him put in writing that the problem will go away as it dries but I am very sceptical! Does this sound like a reasonable explanation?

Thanks for all of your help!

A: I don’t know what product he used and I haven’t used water borne coatings in quite some time. However, I have used them off and on for probably 30 years. Having said that, from my experience it is really pushing it to try to apply 3 coats of a water borne finish in one day. And my bigger question is: why did he use 3 coats of sealer except that it is cheaper? And did he give you one coat of the finish which is generally tougher and is meant to stand up to wear? If that is what he has done you can expect this floor to need refinishing not too long down the line. Applying multiple coats in one day can cause some swelling of the wood.

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