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 subfloor 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.

Hardwood floors crackle throughout the house

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 the 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 would make cracking sounds all on its own. No doubt, this was from the slight movement as the floor reacted to humidity conditions in the home. It adjusted in time.

Wood floors making a crackling sound when walked on

Q: I have hardwoods throughout the house. Over time, the boards are starting to make a “crackling” sound when you walk on them. Some background… The floors are likely original 1968. The hardwood floors are installed over plywood. Not directly over the floor joists as they were in very old homes. There are no squeaks from the plywood. This is not the plywood moving on the floor joists. That is solid. The boards above are moving a bit.

So, what is the best method here to make the crackling stop? Drill small pilot holes and inject glue?

A: How thick is this flooring? 3/4 or the old style 3/8 or 1/2? I ask because the 3/4 is less likely to flex between the floor joist. It could be that the plywood is not perfectly flat and so the flooring in certain spots has a hollow beneath. If you could determine that the area where it is flexing has a floor joist directly beneath you could simply drill a tiny hole and set a finishing nail through the floor and into the joist. Make sure it is a spiral nail and not a common, straight shank. Spiral nails act like screws in that they rotate as they go in and hold much better. Otherwise, yes, drill a hole and insert the tube for the adhesive that can be injected. This adhesive will expand as it cures and fills the void. Be careful it does not come back up through the hole and get all over the floor surface. I think Bostik makes such a product.

Follow-up: Thanks so much for your reply. I need to check, but I believe it is 3/4″ thick. I may try the glue since I have a large area to do. I will check into that product you mentioned.

Sharp cracking noise – should I worry?

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 has 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.