View Full Version : RE: OT . . . Engineered wood floor



firefighterjake
09-30-2008, 02:38 PM
I've purchased an engineered wood floor (plywood with wood veneer) for my living room . . . due to the fact that I needed a thin wood vs. thicker wood floor and I got a good deal at "Mah-dens."

My question for anyone in the know . . . the manufacturer doesn't recommend installing this on particle board . . . well nailing it or stapling it . . . which of course is what my 1970s vintage house has for a subfloor. I would rather not rip up the particle board and replace it . . . and simply throwing a layer of plywood on top of this floor will not work due to short ceiling heights and a tall grandfather clock.

So here's the gist of my question . . . or maybe it's questions . . . so far all I can tell is that particle board is not recommended subfloor material due to possible concerns with its holding power for nails and the possibility of swelling due to moisture. To my knowledge this floor has been down since the house was built in the mid-1970s and it shows no sign of swelling and ripping out the carpet tacks and staples was a bugger . . . which makes me wonder if the particle board might be OK to staple the engineered floor . . . or would I be better off gluing it down (I could go the floating floor route, but most floating floors I have seen have a cheap feel to them as they don't feel very "solid".)

Any suggestions? Staple 'er down and don't worry about it? Glue down? Float 'er and be safe?

Hiram357
09-30-2008, 03:04 PM
glue em, then nail em, then weld em down. :D


(does this mean were gunna have a "tear up jakes floor party" ???) :D

firefighterjake
09-30-2008, 03:48 PM
glue em, then nail em, then weld em down. :D


(does this mean were gunna have a "tear up jakes floor party" ???) :D

Don't cha remember . . . we already tore up the old carpeting and carpet pad. It's still sitting on the front lawn . . . I keep hoping someone will come along and decide that they really need an old mint green carpet for their house. ;):D

vicbiker
09-30-2008, 04:56 PM
Jake you probably don't have particle board in the sense the manufacturers of your engineer floor are talking. What I would assume they are worried about is the stuff you find in house trailers. Spill a glass of water on it and it swells to a foot thick. I would think you have some form of loose strand board if it's your sub floor. Is it tongue and groove jointed, can you see strands of wood or is it more like sawdust? Particle board when dry is hard as a rock and will crumble into sawdust if you can get at an edge with a hammer. Nails when pulled out of particle board usually tear out a chuck of material with the nail.

What you could do is run a garden hose on the floor for a hour or so and see what happens.:D

My son Paul and I have been installing quite a few of the so called floating floors and so far they are all doing great. Easy to do, hold up well to traffic, come in a variety of patterns, can't beat it.

As far as your floor is concerned, try driving a nail that is to be use with the engineered flooring into your sub floor, see how it holds. If it holds ok and the floor hasn't swelled since 1970, then I would say go ahead and install it.

Planet
09-30-2008, 07:11 PM
I sell lumber and hardwood flooring. You couldn't have done hardwood any thinner than 5/8", and even at 5/8" you risk snapping the groove. Most floors are 3/4". Liquid Nails is perfect for gluing down flooring, but let me run this question past my boss in the morning. After he scoffs and laughs at me for mentioning engineered flooring, I'll make him answer me, and get back to you. Usually, installers will glue and blind nail them on the tongue. I take it there is no radiant heat underneath? No pipes to worry about?

With wood, you want the substrate and the floorboards to be no more than 10% different in moisture content, if the back of the engineered floor is wood too (even plywood) let them acclimate in the room first, which by now is probably already done. The key to gluing is the substrate has to be CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN! Don't let any glue come up between, and don't let dust and debris get into the glue, or underneath.

At the risk of sounding like an ad, this is good info. If you go to our website, there are links to a lot of information about woods, and wood products, like the National Hardwood Flooring Association, etc, and there is probably something in there about engineered woods.
www.kellogghardwoods.com is where I work.

Planet (from CT)

Team2hunt
09-30-2008, 07:11 PM
The manufacturer will not recommend particle board for 2 reasons. First there are many variations of the product out there and 2, particle board is NOT a stable material suitable for wood flooring of any type. Even laminate, engineered, and real hardwood strip flooring. It will be up to you to examine the subfloor to see if YOU think it will be suitable. Once you lay the flooring do not go back to the manufacturer for a warranty. Looking at where you bought it, you already know you will be getting a warranty anyways. DO NOT GLUE IT DOWN!! EVER!! Not in a older house such as yours. Trust me on this one. Try to staple it and see if they hold. Your older house is going to be moving during the seasons, ( no not to Florida for the winter), and that movement in the floors would buckle the flooring if you glue it down. And that would destroy all of your hard work. At least if you nail it you might get a few pops but after snagging your socks on them just simply re-set them. The only approved subflooring would be a BC grade plywood, at least 4 layers, or 5/8" thick. Lay the plywood down with the voids toward the joists so the top layer is smooth. Or as we say......Clean, flat and level. And do not forget to acclamate the flooring in the room you will be installing it in for at least 72 hours before installing it.

Hope this helps.

hide_from_the_kids
09-30-2008, 08:42 PM
The manufacturer will not recommend particle board for 2 reasons. First there are many variations of the product out there and 2, particle board is NOT a stable material suitable for wood flooring of any type. Even laminate, engineered, and real hardwood strip flooring. It will be up to you to examine the subfloor to see if YOU think it will be suitable. Once you lay the flooring do not go back to the manufacturer for a warranty. Looking at where you bought it, you already know you will be getting a warranty anyways. DO NOT GLUE IT DOWN!! EVER!! Not in a older house such as yours. Trust me on this one. Try to staple it and see if they hold. Your older house is going to be moving during the seasons, ( no not to Florida for the winter), and that movement in the floors would buckle the flooring if you glue it down. And that would destroy all of your hard work. At least if you nail it you might get a few pops but after snagging your socks on them just simply re-set them. The only approved subflooring would be a BC grade plywood, at least 4 layers, or 5/8" thick. Lay the plywood down with the voids toward the joists so the top layer is smooth. Or as we say......Clean, flat and level. And do not forget to acclamate the flooring in the room you will be installing it in for at least 72 hours before installing it.

Hope this helps.

I AGREE ALL THE WAY.

Hiram357
09-30-2008, 09:56 PM
Jake you probably don't have particle board in the sense the manufacturers of your engineer floor are talking. What I would assume they are worried about is the stuff you find in house trailers. Spill a glass of water on it and it swells to a foot thick.


nope, that's the kinda stuff he has, and you can see the areas that have swelled from water damage. :D

firefighterjake
10-01-2008, 08:00 AM
Jake you probably don't have particle board in the sense the manufacturers of your engineer floor are talking. What I would assume they are worried about is the stuff you find in house trailers. Spill a glass of water on it and it swells to a foot thick. I would think you have some form of loose strand board if it's your sub floor. Is it tongue and groove jointed, can you see strands of wood or is it more like sawdust? Particle board when dry is hard as a rock and will crumble into sawdust if you can get at an edge with a hammer. Nails when pulled out of particle board usually tear out a chuck of material with the nail.

What you could do is run a garden hose on the floor for a hour or so and see what happens.:D

My son Paul and I have been installing quite a few of the so called floating floors and so far they are all doing great. Easy to do, hold up well to traffic, come in a variety of patterns, can't beat it.

As far as your floor is concerned, try driving a nail that is to be use with the engineered flooring into your sub floor, see how it holds. If it holds ok and the floor hasn't swelled since 1970, then I would say go ahead and install it.

Oh, it's particle board all right . . . and not OSB . . . the same stuff that after a fire swells up so bad that you would swear you're knock down drunk as you attempt to walk across the floor with its many dips and crests. The folks that had this house before me did everything on the cheap . . . and now I'm paying the price as I renovate it slowly and surely.

Since this floor has been there since the mid-70s and has gone through numerous carpet shampooing and at least one leak due to a design flaw with the original house plans and there is no visible swelling (although there are watermarks indicating water was there at one time) I think I might just try your idea with the staples . . . try one section and see how it holds since the two issues I have heard with particle board is the potential for fastener failure and moisture issues. I might also run a layer of sealant over it before I put down the flooring.

I figure worse comes to worse I could glue it (more money and I still wonder how this would be any different in terms of moisture issues and holding power) or go with floating . . . although most floating floors I have walked on feel like floating floors . . . they don't sound solid.

firefighterjake
10-01-2008, 08:07 AM
I sell lumber and hardwood flooring. You couldn't have done hardwood any thinner than 5/8", and even at 5/8" you risk snapping the groove. Most floors are 3/4". Liquid Nails is perfect for gluing down flooring, but let me run this question past my boss in the morning. After he scoffs and laughs at me for mentioning engineered flooring, I'll make him answer me, and get back to you. Usually, installers will glue and blind nail them on the tongue. I take it there is no radiant heat underneath? No pipes to worry about?

With wood, you want the substrate and the floorboards to be no more than 10% different in moisture content, if the back of the engineered floor is wood too (even plywood) let them acclimate in the room first, which by now is probably already done. The key to gluing is the substrate has to be CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN! Don't let any glue come up between, and don't let dust and debris get into the glue, or underneath.

At the risk of sounding like an ad, this is good info. If you go to our website, there are links to a lot of information about woods, and wood products, like the National Hardwood Flooring Association, etc, and there is probably something in there about engineered woods.
www.kellogghardwoods.com (http://www.kellogghardwoods.com) is where I work.

Planet (from CT)

Good stuff . . . thanks for the response.

I don't have the product in front of me, but I would guess that it's 3/8-5/8 inches in depth . . . as I said, plywood with a thin veneer on top. The manufacturer's instructions specifically state it can be stapled, glued or floated . . . I would prefer stapling for the ease and solid feel that I am hoping to achieve with this flooring.

If I go with Plan B and glue it down I would most likely follow the manufacturer's instructions and trowel the glue, lay down the flooring and roll the floor.

There is no radiant heat underneath . . . baseboard heat and a woodstove in the room which provides radiant heat.

Acclimated the wood . . . check . . . I knew to do that.

Thanks again for the reply . . . I've got some out-laws down your way . . . how close to you, I'm not sure . . . mother-in-law lives in Ellington and my brother-in-law/sledding partner (currently he has three sleds stored at my house vs. my single sled) lives in Stafford Springs (home to some pretty good pizza by the way at the SS House of Pizza.)

firefighterjake
10-01-2008, 08:22 AM
The manufacturer will not recommend particle board for 2 reasons. First there are many variations of the product out there and 2, particle board is NOT a stable material suitable for wood flooring of any type. Even laminate, engineered, and real hardwood strip flooring. It will be up to you to examine the subfloor to see if YOU think it will be suitable. Once you lay the flooring do not go back to the manufacturer for a warranty. Looking at where you bought it, you already know you will be getting a warranty anyways. DO NOT GLUE IT DOWN!! EVER!! Not in a older house such as yours. Trust me on this one. Try to staple it and see if they hold. Your older house is going to be moving during the seasons, ( no not to Florida for the winter), and that movement in the floors would buckle the flooring if you glue it down. And that would destroy all of your hard work. At least if you nail it you might get a few pops but after snagging your socks on them just simply re-set them. The only approved subflooring would be a BC grade plywood, at least 4 layers, or 5/8" thick. Lay the plywood down with the voids toward the joists so the top layer is smooth. Or as we say......Clean, flat and level. And do not forget to acclamate the flooring in the room you will be installing it in for at least 72 hours before installing it.

Hope this helps.

Wow . . . good stuff Gary . . . very helpful and very reassuring. One might actually think you work at a large hardware store dealing with large volumes of wood flooring even. ;):D

You've confirmed something my very wise wife suggested might be true . . . all particle board might not be created equal. As I mentioned in another post the particle board I have shows some evidence of water with watermarks (most likely from carpet shampooing over the years and one spot where a design flaw with a bad foyer allowed water to leak into the house for years) and yet the wood shows absolutely zero signs of swelling or deterioration (i.e. delaminating into a crumbly pile of sawdust). What you've said leads me to think that I might have got a bit of luck and the former homeowners might have not bought the cheaper stuff which I have personally seen swell up with the slightest amount of water, disintegrate into a pile of sawdust, etc.

Since this area will not be shampooed, we don't track in stuff (shoes go off in the mudroom . . . I even make Hiram and Medawisla do so when they visit since they've now been to our house several times and are no longer considered guests, but part of the family ;):D) and the faulty foyer has been fixed I'm thinking that short of a flood moisture issues may not be a problem with this subfloor. In addition, I'm thinking putting a sealant down might also be a good idea as some added insurance.

You convinced me on the glue deal . . . I think I might try Vic and your suggestion to try stapling the floor down and see how it holds. Based on the fact that it took Hiram and I some work to remove the carpet tacks and my wife is still working hard at digging out regular ol' staples from where the former owners stapled down the carpet pad I'm thinking the holding power might be OK as well . . . providing I don't have to rip up the flooring at a later date since I suspect that would cause the particle board to no longer be any good.

Acclimation . . . check. I've been letting the wood acclimate in the house for over a week now . . . I talk to it occasionally, pat it's glossy finish . . . you know just to make it feel at home. ;):D

Manufacturer warranty . . . as you might have surmised buying this stuff at "Mah-dens" basically means there is no manufacturer warranty which I realized from the get-go. Couldn't pass up the wicked good price though . . . for the price I couldn't have even bought mid-priced laminate, much less paid for pricier wood flooring.

Subfloor . . . if this was me and I was building a home today there is no way I would ever go with particle board in a home . . . I detest the stuff for many, many reasons . . . definitely plywood or possibly Advantek OSB (which is what a contractor used when we fixed the leaky foyer.)

firefighterjake
10-01-2008, 08:24 AM
nope, that's the kinda stuff he has, and you can see the areas that have swelled from water damage. :D

Actually there is no swelling from what I can see . . . just some watermarks. I suppose it's possible the wood might have swelled and then shrunk back to its original size . . . but all the particle board I have ever seen that has swollen due to water penetration and has remained warped and it is very obvious that water has penetrated it.

Hiram357
10-01-2008, 02:36 PM
Actually there is no swelling from what I can see . . . just some watermarks. I suppose it's possible the wood might have swelled and then shrunk back to its original size . . . but all the particle board I have ever seen that has swollen due to water penetration and has remained warped and it is very obvious that water has penetrated it.

what about those high spots where the boards came together by the window? wasn't that some swelling?

firefighterjake
10-01-2008, 03:34 PM
what about those high spots where the boards came together by the window? wasn't that some swelling?

I'm not sure there were any high spots there . . . I'll take another look though.

vicbiker
10-01-2008, 04:35 PM
Jake I checked with my son Paul today and he did use engineered plywood flooring from Marden's in his new bedroom. He bought it a couple of years ago, left it in the room for a month prior to laying it down. I helped him put it down, we floated the floor, and it came out great. So I thought anyway. Seems that he's had all kinds of trouble with the product that I wasn't aware of. The hardwood veneer seems to contract and expand at a different rate then does the plywood. This makes the floor curl up at certain times of the year. He said that at times it lays back down and looks as good as the day we put the floor in.

Thought I would pass this on to you.

firefighterjake
10-02-2008, 07:54 AM
Jake I checked with my son Paul today and he did use engineered plywood flooring from Marden's in his new bedroom. He bought it a couple of years ago, left it in the room for a month prior to laying it down. I helped him put it down, we floated the floor, and it came out great. So I thought anyway. Seems that he's had all kinds of trouble with the product that I wasn't aware of. The hardwood veneer seems to contract and expand at a different rate then does the plywood. This makes the floor curl up at certain times of the year. He said that at times it lays back down and looks as good as the day we put the floor in.

Thought I would pass this on to you.

Hmmm . . . interesting . . . since most of the literature says the engineered stuff is usually one of the best options if you're looking for a "stable" wood floor vs. laminate or hardwood.

Does Paul know what brand the flooring was?

Knowing this . . . and from what I've read in other places right now I'm either leaning towards stapling the floor down to the particle board and risking it (although as I have mentioned the particle board doesn't really show any signs of swelling) or biting the bullet and ripping out the particle board and replacing it with plywood and then stapling the floor down (a bit more of an expense in time and money, but long term reassurance.) I've just got to price 5/8 plywood today and see what the extra costs would be.

firefighterjake
10-02-2008, 07:56 AM
. . . or biting the bullet and ripping out the particle board and replacing it with plywood and then stapling the floor down (a bit more of an expense in time and money, but long term reassurance.) I've just got to price 5/8 plywood today and see what the extra costs would be.

Hey Aaron . . . interested in some more house "deconstruction"? ;):D

Actually, at some point in the next month or so you, me and Steph have got to head up to Jackman and finish off our maps. Unfortunately, this weekend is out due to other commitments . . . the 25th will also be out due to a stupid Open House I'm organizing at the BFD.

Team2hunt
10-02-2008, 08:06 AM
Engineered flooring due to how it is made. A thin veneer of wood attached to a base of (usually) multi-ply, it is one of the most stable products in the industry. It is the only one that can be recommended to install below grade, like in your basement. But! If not installed properly, ( and I'm not infering that Vic did not install it right ) the floor STILL has movement, and when your house moves, the floor can buckle at the joints. Living in Maine with the extreme temperature swings all of our homes have some movement. The floor needs to be installed with that movement in mind. If the floor is floated or attached it needs a minimum of 1/4" gap around it's entire perimeter. And the movement of your home needs to be taken into consideration here. If the gap ever closes the floor will buckle and not stay flat. Even if you staple it to the subfloor you still need to maintain that 1/4" gap. There are several ways to accomplish this. The easiest, would be use 1/4 round to cover the gap. Around wet areas ( kitchens and baths ) you will need to fill the gap with 100% silicone to prevent water from seeping into the subfloor. Another way to hide the gap is to undercut the sheetrock to the same height as your floor and install the flooring 1/4" off of the studs. The baseboard when reinstalled will now make for a much cleaner look. But....a lot more work. Remember to maintain that 1/4" gap around the ENTIRE perimeter, door jambs seem to be the most common place that homeowners fail to do this.

vicbiker
10-02-2008, 11:14 AM
When installing any floating floor system in a room with baseboards already installed we generally leave a 1/4-3/8 spacing and cover this with base shoe.This seems to solve the problem with out all the work of taking the baseboards off and reinstalling them. Door casings are another problem which can be solved by under cutting them with a pull saw, using a piece of flooring as a guide.

The problem with Pauls floor isn't that it's expanding aganst the walls, there is still proper spacing everywhere. Individual piece's seem to curl and some of the veneered surfaces actually crack open especially near the heat.

Paul also agrees that engineered flooring is suppose to be the best flooring. But cheap flooring is cheap flooring.The stuff he bought was cheap, thats why he drove all the way to Lewiston to buy it.

In all fairness this floor is installed in a room that doesn't have a basement under it, only a crawl space. We built the floor system with 2x10's, use nailing strips at the bottom of each to hold 2" styrofoam panels over which we used 6' fiberglass insulation, topped off with advantech. The room has a monitor heater which radiates heat right across the floor. Any of this could be the problem.

firefighterjake
10-02-2008, 11:19 AM
After doing some more research I'm beginning to lean towards going the slighly more expensive route and taking up the particle board and replacing it with OSB . . . which the manufacturer (Mannington) says is suitable for underlayment. I figure for a little more than $100 and some time I will have piece of mind.

Hiram357
10-02-2008, 03:38 PM
After doing some more research I'm beginning to lean towards going the slighly more expensive route and taking up the particle board and replacing it with OSB . . . which the manufacturer (Mannington) says is suitable for underlayment. I figure for a little more than $100 and some time I will have piece of mind.

I'll bring my jackhammer and cutting torch!! :D:D:D