Why Is Chipboard Destined To Fail?

Coming from a lengthy wood floor installation background of collectively more than fifty years, clearly we’re well placed to provide you with good quality information. Over the past several years addressing failed chipboard floors, we’ve developed a deep understanding of how it works and why it fails on a regular basis. 

Here’s a previous article highlighting five main reasons why chipboard fails , but in this article we’ll be looking at why it is destined to fail, even when all installation and acclimatisation guidelines are strictly met. 

The introduction of most engineered wood floor manufacturers to include a break between rooms when installing their floors will give you an earlier clue as to why chipboard is destined to fail.

To expand on the previous statement, wood floor manufacturers often stipulate their floors be separated between rooms due to differing humidity and temperature changes. In other words, differing micro-climates between rooms. For instance, a landing will often have a more active/dynamic climate than a bedroom. With frequent temperature and humidity changes. A shower/bathroom will often have a very different climate to the rest of the rooms with high spikes in temperature, humidity, and surface condensation. 

To explain why these differing room climate changes are an issue for wood floors, it’s down to conflicting expansion and contraction ratios. Wood will expand when humidity levels raise and contract when humidity levels drop. You could say, in whatever format the wood floor i.e. Solid, engineered, laminated etc, it is a living breathing product, so to speak.  

If a wood ‘type’ floor is installed without a dividing break between rooms, there will always be a natural conflict at some point during normal family living. The bathroom will turn into a sauna, the front door will be left wide open, adjustable radiator valves will be set differently, room climates will even differ as the sun moves across the sky etc. With that, wood floors will expand and contract at different rates in each room.

Now we’ve got that concept, let’s look at chipboard floors. 

When installed, 99% of chipboard floors are fitted before any walls (stud work partition walls) have been installed. So, the first and perhaps second floors of chipboard are one big interlocking sheet. No dividing breaks between rooms. Then the walls are installed. 

Chipboard IS susceptible to dimensional changes due to humidity levels. When the kids have taken full command of the bathroom and turned it into a tropical paradise, the chipboard WILL change dimensionally. If the landing outside the bathroom is cool with less humidity in the air, the chipboard will perhaps not change dimensionally. Therefore, creating fighting or conflicting expansion forces. This is a very basic description for explanation purposes.

As the seasons change, the way people use their homes differs. Often the heating will go on as winter closes in. Certain less used rooms may have the heating turned off at the radiator. Creating an obvious conflict.

Even season changes (Hot/cold/dry/humid) on their own will create differing dynamics in any home from year to year. 

Now, when these conflicts happen, they’re essentially creating hot spots of pressure/forces. This puts pressure on the chipboard in random areas. More so, when foot load is applied, this creates further vertical and almost wave like conflicts in the chipboard floor. Effectively loosening the screws/nails. This leads to one of the classic noises associated with chipboard and is the main reason why simply adding extra screws just doesn’t work. In a lot of instances, doing so makes the issue worth!

Due to the standard building methods dated from 1970’s onwards, chipboard floors for the sole reasons outlined above are destined to fail in some way or the other.

Our solution separates each room and allows your new floors to expand and contract at their own rate without conflict. We call this zoning. This in part, is one of the reasons we can give such lengthy guarantees on our solution.

For guidance and to discuss your options, contact us here or fill in the form at the top right of this page.