Does your vinyl plank flooring emit a crackling sound when you walk across it? This is not uncommon and can happen even on newly installed floors. Fortunately, there’s a way to fix this problem.
You can fix vinyl plank flooring noise. To fix it, you will need to ensure that the subfloor is level. This entails partial or full removal of the vinyl flooring and leveling the concrete below. Alternatively, you could also leave the flooring as is and wait for the floor to settle.
In this article, you will learn why your vinyl plank flooring is crackling. For answers to these queries and more, as well as guidelines on how to get rid of the crackling noise, keep it here.
What Causes Vinyl Plank Flooring Noise?
In most homes, flooring noises are prevalent in the morning. These crackling, popping sounds lessen as the day wears on, the house gets warmer, and people walk across the floors more.
If you installed your flooring, you might be concerned that you did something wrong, and that’s why your floor is noisy. Either that or your flooring is defective. But you couldn’t be more wrong.
Below are some possible reasons why your vinyl flooring makes sounds that make you feel as though you are walking on rice crispies.
Poor Subfloor Preparation
When installing vinyl plank flooring, subfloor preparation is crucial since all uneven spots need to be leveled. The noises will often come from an area where the leveling was not properly done.
When the subfloor is out of level, it moves. This movement stresses the joint between the plank and the subfloor and eventually leads to the floor, separating or cracking. It also causes flooring noises.
Interestingly, when your house is hot and humid, the noise reduces. This is because stress worsens when the floor is cool since it’s less flexible and moves more.
Noisy Subfloor Underlayment
Underlayment helps to absorb sound in areas with lots of foot traffic. However, this doesn’t always prove effective.
You see, vinyl plank flooring typically comes with a foam, rubber, or cork padding attached, and the crackling sounds might come from this backing. For example, a foam pad contains many small air pockets which pop when you squash it.
The type of underlayment used on your subfloor could also create more noise than it dissipates. For instance, some types of foam underlayment rub so hard on the subfloor that with time, they create a white residue beneath the floor. The foam gets completely worn down as well.
This problem also relates to a poorly prepared subfloor since the subfloor creates floor movement. The movement leads to the foam underlay rubbing against the subfloor, thus causing the popping noises.
Note that some types of vinyl plank flooring do not allow underlayment of any kind. So, if you go ahead and use underlayment, squeaking noises may emanate from the vinyl backing rubbing against the underlayment.
Incorrect Expansion Gaps Spacing
Manufacturers specify the correct sizing for the expansion gaps. This is usually 1/4-3/8″ (6.4-10 mm). The gaps are necessary because your floors expand if the morning is warm and contract in the cooler evening. If you don’t make room for expansion, your flooring can buckle too.
Should You Fix Your Noisy Vinyl Flooring?
It’s essential to fix your noisy flooring because failure to do could result in damage to your floor. This is particularly so if the cause of the noise is an unlevel subfloor since moisture can collect underneath the planks and cause damage.
But did you know that one of the best remedies to your noisy vinyl flooring is to stay put and do absolutely nothing?
The thing is, creaking vinyl floors are known to settle after some time – though this could take several months.
How to Fix Vinyl Plank Flooring Noise
You can get rid of the noise on your vinyl floors by using the following techniques:
Remove the Vinyl Flooring and Redo Your Subfloor
If your subfloor was not flat before the flooring installation, remove the flooring as it’s hard to fix the subfloor when the floor is down. If this is not done, your floor will not last long. You also risk voiding your warranty.
Next, redo your subfloor. Ensure that the subfloor lies flat and smooth before you lay down your floor.
If installing your flooring directly onto a plywood subfloor, prepare the subfloor by sanding the joists carefully and grinding the high spots. Fill in any low spots too. For a concrete subfloor, ensure it is level and free from dust and debris.
Note that a flat subfloor might not necessarily be level. If your floor has many humps or depressions, you need to use a filling compound to make it flat.
However, redoing the subfloor is a tedious job. You will need to remove all the furniture and baseboards before floating the subfloor, curing it, and replacing the floor.
Increase the Expansion Gap to the Correct Size
Work on the gap around the perimeter by following the manufacturer’s specifications. Increase the expansion gap up to 3/8″ (9.5 mm) in areas where the gapping is insufficient.
If installing a floating floor, make sure that it has room to move. Avoid placing heavy items on it since they could prevent the floor from expanding and contracting. Expansion gaps can help ease the pressure from heat expansion and hopefully minimize the crackling noise.
Install the Vinyl Plank Flooring Correctly
Follow the accompanying instructions to ensure that you install your vinyl flooring in the right manner. For example, use a rubberized roller over the short edges to engage the floating floor’s locking mechanism. This will prevent any squeaking or unlocking.
Choose the Proper Underlayment
Underlayment is not strictly necessary for vinyl flooring installations. Still, installations over wood or existing subfloors will benefit from the additional sound cushioning. You can also install several planks and walk over them to determine if you need underlayment.
For a quieter installation, try out different vinyl padding such as cork or place soundproofing underlayment before fixing the vinyl flooring.
Note that most vinyl floorings don’t do well with thick underpads. If you would like to use a particular type of underlayment, seek advice from a flooring expert.
Consider a Glue Down Install
Though pricey as it might need a professional, your best bet against the crackle and pop in your vinyl flooring might be a glue down install. It’s great for places with an uneven subfloor. It’s best to use top-quality adhesive to prevent it from loosening and causing your floors to buckle.
Wait for the Floor to Settle
You could also wait for the floor to settle. If the noise situation doesn’t change even after sitting it out for many months, get rid of the vinyl and padding.
How to Prevent Noisy Vinyl Flooring
How do you prevent your vinyl flooring from making the annoying crackling noises in the first place?
- Ensure the subfloor is flat, dry, free of debris, and has no high or low spots.
- Install the vinyl flooring properly.
- Where possible, use a glue down install.
- Install underlayment that’s compatible with vinyl plank flooring.
- Use acoustic adhesives around floor edges or a floor carpet to dampen sound.
Vinyl plank flooring provides your home with a lovely look. However, the noisy sounds released when you walk on it can dampen your enthusiasm for your beautiful flooring. But with proper subfloor leveling, you need not worry since any sounds emitted will eventually dissipate with time as the floor settles.