Old floor popping sounds during the night

Q: I know that the question of wood floors making popping sounds during the night has been asked; however my white oak floors are original to the house built in 1948. I did have the floors refinished about 6-7 months ago with water-based finish and like the others, the popping only happens at night without anyone walking on them. I’ve had this house for 17 years and it’s never done this before. Do you think it’s still humidity related? I live in Southern CA so it’s pretty dry here.


A: As companies have been forced over the years to develop water borne coatings they soon discovered they also needed to develop special sealers to prevent an issue called side bonding. These coatings are more brittle and rigid than oil based finishes and thus don’t stretch as much with movement in the floor. I suspect the noises you hear are the finish stretching and cracking along the board edges or between boards where it slipped into tiny gaps between boards. Once that has completed the noises should stop.

Very loud popping sounds in the middle of the night

Q: My wife and I purchased a new home a little over a year ago (house is 20+ years old, and floors are not new). It has hardwood flooring throughout the entire upstairs with the exception of the bathrooms. The floors are making very loud popping sounds that are most common in the middle of the night when no one is up and walking around. This interrupts our sleep, and I am to the point of frustration that I may rip up the floors, and replace them, unless I can get it to stop. I would hate to trash nice real hardwood, but I am out of ideas on how to deal with this. Any input is greatly appreciated.

A: It sounds like your floor in some spots is moving.  Possibly shrinking.  If you could get hold of a moisture meter and do some checks to see what the level is of moisture in the wood.  Has there been a change in the indoor environment?  Do you know how long these floors have been installed?

Follow-up: Thanks for getting back to me. I am almost certain the floor is original, so 20 years. I will look into a moisture meter. There hasn’t been any changes since we have been here, other than replacing windows (sound has persisted before and after the new windows). I guess I can’t understand why this would predominantly happen at night? My wife works from home, and I’m home a good bit during the day, and it doesn’t seem to happen then. 

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