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Solid Wood Meets The Subfloor

Solid Wood Meets The Subfloor


Posted in Solid / Hardwood Flooring by Source on July 5th 2010
Solid wood floors are as popular as ever due to their durability, their natural beauty and potential to be an everlasting feature. However correct installation of your wooden floor is vital otherwise that gorgeous new wood floor could turn into every home-owners worst nightmare. Solid wood flooring provides many benefits in the home and when used on commercial projects. The natural warmth and beauty of real hardwood flooring sits well in traditional older & period properties and modern contemporary spaces. A quality hardwood floor provides a luxury but sturdy feel underfoot and a can provide a durable floor with the right surface finish. However the correct method of installation is important because wood flooring expands and contracts naturally due to moisture in the wood, air and subfloor.

Wood flooring installation method

Solid wood floors have for many years been fixed rigidly using wooden battens and nails secured by the "secret nailing " technique. Installing the battens is time consuming and expensive and the increased floor height can cause problems for skirting boards, architrave and existing doors. Wooden flooring boards fixed by nails to wooden battens provides rigid fixing. This doesn't allow for the wood's natural movement. This often results in separation between the floorboards as shrinkage occurs with the changing climatic conditions. The end result is often "gapy floorboards" and "squeaky floorboards" as the the timber planks move up and down on the nails. If the flooring really has got to be secret nailed then always at least consider the "belt & braces" approach and opt for an extra bond to the subfloor/battens by using a product such as Sikabond T2 adhesive. Better still use Sika T2 liquid battens instead of wooden battens orany other Sika elastic wood flooring adhesive for an installation method that will accommodate the wood's natural movement.

Excessive Subfloor Moisture

Excess moisture within the subfloor can occur, particularly with cement based substrates. Wood is naturally hygroscopic and if installed over a subfloor with excess moisture then the water or water vapour will typically be absorbed by the wood flooring. The board is likely to expand and result in cupping of the floorboard which is where the outer edges of the board rise up higher than the centre, giving a subtle concave look. This is where the bottom of the wooden board expands at a greater rate than the top due to moisture uptake from beneath it. Crowning is the opposite where the edges of the board are lower the centre and is usually the result of high in-room humdity or water spills on to the top surface of the wooden floor. If the moisture is excessive and the wood expands significantly but has no where to go, then crushing of the edges of the boards can deform the floorboards at the edges. With increased pressure over time, the stress can move into the subfloor which often results in failure of the subfloor and ultimately risks the floor being "written off". Nowadays it is common for wood floors to be installed over concrete subfloors and ideally the moisture content of the screed should be 0% or 1 to 2% maximum. Anymore than this and it is likely that the wood flooring will absorb this excess moisture because often it has no where else to go. Old concrete screeds with or without a damp proof membrane beneath can still hold excessive moisture or have the ability to develop it. Fresh concrete screeds will have moisture that is released slowly over time and typically a 3" to 4" screed will take approx 3 to 4 months to get down to an acceptable level of moisture. So it is important to consider moisture content levels first before installation commences. Beware also that adding a self levelling compound will in itself add moisture to the subfloor and readings should be taken before and after it's application.

Elastic adhesive systems

Sikabond elastic adhesive systems provide a modern alternative solution to bond a solid wood floor to the subfloor with many advantages. Some adhesive systems of the past were used to install wood flooring with a rigid bond between the flooring and the subfloor. Movement in the wood floor would frequently cause the rigid adhesives to crack and to tear loose from either the flooring planks or the subfloor, thus breaking the bond. However technological advancements mean that this is a thing of the past. Sikabond elastic adhesives keep the timber planks tightly in place and 'bonded' securely to the subfloor, but by remaining permanently elastic, they also allow for subtle natural movement of the wood. They offer a very high 'tructural bond' to virtually any substrate and are especially suitable for problematic woods such as beech or maple. Although a beautiful wooden floor looks attractive there can be some drawbacks as airborne and footfall noise can be an important consideration. If noise is a key concern, then the Sika Acoubond system, a footfall sound dampening mat combined with Sikabond T52FC adhesive sausages offers the ideal solution. Solid wood flooring can really enhance and compliment an interior design scheme and last the test of time. Sikabond elastic adhesive systems offer numerous benefits when installing solid wood floors. Having made a significant investment in a beautiful solid wooden floor, it would be wise to take time to consider the best and most appropriate installtion method, not necessarily the cheapest option.

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