As I sit here and write this, I’m frankly dumbstruck. We started developing our squeaky chipboard floor solution around five years ago, initially expecting our target market to be properties built between the 1970’s to early 2000’s. How wrong we were..
I can say, the larger proportion of properties we work on are within the range above. However, since we’ve been pro-actively approaching our market via advertising etc, we’ve seen a steady increase in clients owning new build style properties coming forward for help.
There are two main reasons why I personally didn’t expect this. Newer building regs specify the use of 22 mm chipboard. Obviously a sturdier board than the older 18 mm thick chipboard. Secondly, the increasing terminology of ‘no squeak guarantees’ used in the chipboard flooring industry. Ironically highlighting the awareness in the industry as to the problem.
Well, as I write this, I currently have four on going new build (22 mm thick chipboard) squeaky floor remedial projects and am in the process of writing up three further estimates.
The main problem we are seeing is with issues during construction. It’s all to do with high moisture contents of timbers (joists) on installation and the chipboard, most commonly from getting wet due to rain pouring in through exposed roofs.
We’ve found a lot of the joist hangers and nails are coming loose. Not to the extent of causing failure to the building, but certainly to the extent of creating squeaks and creaks. You see, what happens is the timbers seem to have shrunk. They get installed while having a high moisture content (perhaps rained on), and then when the property is brought up to living conditions, the timbers dry out and shrink. this results in the timbers moving away from the hangers slightly and leaving spaces as well as loosening some fixings. Then when walked across or even during temperature changes, the fixing nails rub against the metal hangers, producing a very distinctive metallic sound. We address this by using adhesive (and plenty of it!) as well as removing some of the offending nails and replacing with good quality screws.
The chipboard getting wet during construction is by far the biggest problem. Our clients have largely stated that when their property was getting built, they would frequently see puddles of stationary water sat on top of the chipboard. Then low and behold, a few months later and the squeaks start getting louder and louder as time goes on. This is due to the chipboard swelling and generally taking on board moisture during these times, then progressively drying out. This effects them dimensionally as well as structurally. Loosing their integrity during this excessively wet and dry period. Manufacturers again have spotted this trend and produce chipboard sheets with moisture resistant additives and protective removable plastic sheets, which is actually another reason we didn’t expect to see the numbers of failures we are. In some cases, this doesn’t seem to be working, as our job sheet numbers tell us.
This article is not an attack on house builders and the construction industry in general. Indeed, we’re apart of it. I understand the logistics of house building and if everything went right all the time, we’d call that utopia.
We’ve not about attacking, we’re about solving!
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