Why is chipboard flooring noisy?

Chipboard is noisy, fact! If you’re reading this, you either know it from first hand experience, or you read or heard about it. But, why is it noisy?

There are several answers to this. None of which are exclusive and can often run hand in hand.

Poor installation

Sometimes it’s down to poor installation. A lot of house builders and sub-contractors are on time restraints, some paid by the metre laid or on ridiculous deadlines, which can lead to a fixing method i.e. adhesive etc, being left out of the installation in an attempt to greatly speed the process up. You may think “Well, it shouldn’t have been signed off!”, but they do get signed off, because we see it.

Unfortunate circumstances

Often the chipboard will go into the property before the roof has been completed, leaving the chipboard exposed to the elements for a period. Whether the chipboard is treated or not, moisture can have a huge effect on any chipboard, both short and long term. Of course most house builders will opt to trust the manufacturers in their vague promise that their chipboard is moisture resistant. It’s easier and cheaper to do that than replace the chipboard.  You may have bought a property where the chipboard has become partially water damaged (unnoticeably), but the home builders warranty has perhaps ran out or is not applicable.

Poor material construction

The basic construction method of chipboard is small particles of waste wood are glued and compressed together. Over time and/or use, the bond between the particles can lose strength resulting in sagging.

With normal family use, chipboard can start to sag between the joists. It doesn’t take much, a few millimetres, and that sort of sagging can lead to an excessive lateral load being applied to the fixings (nails). As the chipboard is walked across, this lateral load is essentially applied to both sides of many fixings. In other words, imagine holding a protruding nail in a piece of wood and wiggling it from side to side. It will eventually become loose.

This constant lateral load will eventually loosen the nails and result in rubbing. The nail is basically rubbing against the hole where it was once firmly seated in the chipboard. Resulting in a god awful creak.

Tongue and Groove

Accompanied with the fixing nails loosening, sagging also results in deflection/vertical movement between the joists. Eventually, resulting in the wearing down of the tongue and groove of the chipboard. Particularly if the tongue and groove hasn’t been glued.

Deflection/movement in the joists

Depending on the basic design and size of your property i.e. room spans etc, the joists may have deflection, otherwise known as vertical movement when a load is applied (You or members of your family). Building regulations allow up to 12 mm of deflection!

Over time and/or use, such deflection in the joists can result in the break down of the chipboard. Whether that comes in the form of loosening the fixings, excessive wear of the tongue and groove, sagging, or all/some of those outcomes together, the end results is always the same. Squeaking/creaking!

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