A beautiful floor will never last without a sturdy subfloor. While there are building codes that specify minimum spans and spacing for subloor installation, it’s unlikely that just meeting the bare minimum will prevent the floor from squeaking and bowing in the future. Here are some tips to reduce client callbacks as well as costs.
- Go beyond code. Increasing the joist depth, reducing on-center spacing between joists, and/or shortening the span across supports can reduce the likelihood of bounce and flex down the road. These minor adjustments won’t add much to your material cost, but will greatly improve the finished product. The solid base will also reduce the likelihood that an unforgiving floor material, like tile, will crack because of subfloor movement.
- Amp up the deck. In addition to the joists, consider a slightly thicker decking. The additional thickness will reduce the potential for squeaks and micromovements if it is installed with the proper adhesives and fasteners. While a thicker deck may add some expense, you may be able to slightly increase support spacing below it, which can potentially defray that cost.
- Stick to it. Glue is a critical component of a well-built subfloor, so don’t skip it! Apply the glue with care and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The joists should be dust and debris free and your bead should be consistent. For wider wood, apply it in a serpentine pattern versus a straight line. Don’t allow your glue to be exposed to the air too long before adhering your joists and decks. If a skin forms on the glue, you may reduce the effectiveness of the bond.
- Choose fasteners wisely. Avoid nail pops and pull outs by choosing the right fasteners. Install and space them properly. The tell-tale subfloor squeak comes from wood rubbing on a fastener. The best fasteners for subfloors are a combination fastener, like SubLoc® PRO SCRAIL®. These fasteners are applied with force and precision using a pneumatic gun. They go in like a nail but with the holding power of a screw. The SubLoc® PRO SCRAIL® was developed to avoid subﬂoor squeaks. The upper threads grab into the deck board and prevent micro movement of the wood even in the event of wood shrinkage. The aggressive double threads are designed for squeak-less floors because no smooth shank between the upper and lower threads prevents board movement that can lead to unwanted noises.
- Check and double check. After your subfloor is installed, and before the main floor is laid, check your work. If you hear a squeak or see a nail pop, fix it while you have access. The beauty of SubLoc® PRO SCRAIL® is that is can be backed out and reapplied easily.
While no one ever compliments you on the beauty of your subfloor installation, their lack of complaints will speak to the high quality of your work. Reducing the need for callbacks can keep your customers happy and keep you from having to do the same job twice. That’s just smart business.