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It would be really great if someone could give me some advice on the following issue:

Last year I bought a house and had a hardwood floor installed (solid hardwood, stapled on plywood over crawlspace). Since then, there has been some noticeable crackling of the floor, especially in the kitchen. It's gotten worse over the year and it's now almost impossible to step anywhere in the kitchen without getting a loud crackling sound.

The sound normally occurs when I release the weight from each spot. Surprisingly, I can't detect any movement of a particular floor board. From the top it looks like the boards join together perfectly, without even the slightest gap. Also, the crackling is not localized to a particular board, but to several regions, each having a diameter of about 2-3ft. I can step anywhere in each region to get the same effect. It seems like all boards move downward and upward together to produce the sound.

The other surprising thing is that the crackling intensifies throughout the day. In the morning, it is not very strong, but as more and more people step on it, it gets louder and louder. In addition, the crackling seems less severe if the air is humid or after wet-moping the floor.

One other thing that I should note is that the floor in the kitchen seems a bit "bouncy", meaning that if I walk on it, then I can hear the plates in the cabinets vibrating. Also it may be the case that the subfloor was slightly warped due to the weight of the counters. I'm not completely sure about this though, and I don't know if it is relevant here.

I complained about the crackling after the installation was completed, but the installers said that some general crackling throughout the house was normal and will eventually subside. As for the kitchen, they blamed the subfloor. However, when I looked at the subfloor from the crawl space, everything looked fine and there didn't seem to be any movement.

Has anyone had a similar experience? I would greatly appreciate any advice or any guesses on what the issue could be. Is there some simple way of fixing the noise or is it likely that the whole job has to be done again? If so, who would normally be responsible for it financially?

Here are some more details:

  • solid bamboo hardwood floor

  • installed on plywood underlayment above a crawlspace

  • boards are about 4" wide

  • stapled about every 12"-14", some of the staples protrude the plywood and can be seen from crawlspace

  • Prior to installation there seemed to be a mix between carpet, linoleum with an intermediate asbestos layer or tiling (in the kitchen)

  • Two boards have developed a small crack in the middle, but there is less crackling directly near these boards.

  • There is a little bit of crackling everywhere in the house. It is only noticeable if I rock and shift my weight a lot and is comparable to the noise created when stepping on a thin plastic film.

All the best,

Richard

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  • Was a moisture barrier laid down first? Was the floor acclimated for several days prior to installation? Is it a “true” solid bamboo floor or is it an engineered (bamboo laminated on plywood) bamboo floor? Do you have a copy of the manufacturer’s installation instructions that is located in each bundle? Is it installed right against the wall, or is there a 1” gap between the flooring and wall? Do you have extra boards leftover from the original installation? – Lee Sam Nov 2 '19 at 8:38
  • Are the staples installed into the”tongue” edge or the “groove” edge? – Lee Sam Nov 2 '19 at 8:47
  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. We'll need some more info before we can help you. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to participate here. – Daniel Griscom Nov 2 '19 at 20:24
  • Thanks for the questions. They put down some black paper, which I assume was a moisture barrier. They didn't acclimate the floor, but the air was quite dry the entire month prior to installation. The floor is true solid bamboo, not engineered (brand: Reward Flooring). – Richard Nov 2 '19 at 20:29
  • I could locate the manual of the floor and it says that nails or cleats no larger than 18 gauge should be used. The installers however used staples. I don't think they left a 1" gap between flooring and wall and I don't know if they stapled into tongue or groove. – Richard Nov 2 '19 at 20:36

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