3 Ways to Fix Engineered Hardwood Floor Popping Noise

engineered hardwood floor popping noise

All wood floors are bound to make noises; eventually, it might be a squeak, crackle, or popping sound. It is part of living with a natural, organic product.

There are a couple of quick fixes for  engineered hardwood floor popping noise, including:

  • Sprinkle talcum powder or powdered graphite, or any dry lubricant between the planks
  • Fill cracks with wood filler
  • Place an area rug over the floor area to muffle the popping sounds

If you want a permanent fix, below are strategies you can use, but first, you need to know why your engineered wood floor is popping?.

This article is also going to discuss everything you need to know about how to fix popped engineered hardwood floors.

Read: How to fix squeaky hardwood floor with baby powder

Why Is My Engineered Wood Floor Popping?

There are different reasons why your engineered wood floor could begin making popping sounds. Fortunately, a defective subfloor is not always the cause.

In fact, it is common for new engineered wood floors to make such noises. Here are some reasons why your engineered wood floor is popping

Wood Expansion

Wood is an organic material that experiences expansion and contraction naturally according to the temperature and humidity of the area.

Engineered wood floors behave in a similar manner since they are made of wood, so they absorb and retain moisture as any other wood flooring would.

If enough expansion gap wasn’t left when your floor was installed, when your floor expands, the wood would pop up. When temperature and humidity levels drop, your floor pops back down.

This causes the floor to loosen and buckle depending on your subfloor’s condition, the humidity levels, and the extent of the expansion. 

Using the Wrong Fasteners

If the wood planks were installed using incorrectly-sized fasters or fewer fasteners than required, it could result in popping sounds.

When this happens, your floor becomes unable to move and continues to absorb moisture.

Loose Plank

If your floors were nailed down to the subfloor, then the nails could be the source of the popping noise.

This occurs when a plank loosens, causing the nail to rub against the subfloor when you walk across the floor.

Floor Planks Failed to Acclimate to the House

Not allowing your floor planks to acclimate to the house before installing them can also lead to creaking noises. Acclimating refers to the wood flooring reaching its equilibrium moisture content.

It may take up to a year or more for the moisture to clear up, depending on the floor traffic and humidity conditions in the home.

This can also pose a problem if the subfloor was too wet when the floor was installed above it or if the planks were installed without a moisture barrier.

If your floor joists were wet during installation, they might warp, bow, or shrinks. This can result in a gap between the joist and the subfloor.

So when you walk across the floor area, the flooring and subfloor move up and down, rubbing against the nails or screws, which creates squeaking sounds.

Read: Why is my vinyl plank floor buckling

Uneven Subfloor

Ensuring your concrete subfloor is leveled is very crucial when installing an engineered wood floor.

Installing your engineered wood floor on an uneven subfloor can lead to the formation of gaps and voids. These gaps cause the floor planks to rub against each other, causing creaking noises.

However, it might be impossible to have a perfectly level subfloor when installing your floor this is because the board edges need to get close to each other.

With time, the edges become smooth and less rigid as they continue to rub against one another.

Read: How to get rid of mold on floor joist

You Have an Old House

If you have an old house, chances are that it was built without the subfloor attached to the joists with subfloor adhesive. This means that the wood joists and subfloor will eventually settle and dry out with time.

This causes them to pull away from one another but, the nail used to secure them stays firmly fixed.

So when you walk over the floor, the subfloor moves up and down and rubs against the nail; this results in the irritating popping and squeaking noise.

Read: How difficult is it to replace floor joist

How do you Fix Popped Engineered Hardwood Floors?

Silencing your squeaky floors is very easy, affordable, and can be done within a short time. Keep in mind that there are different reasons why your engineered hardwood floors can begin to make a popping sound.

The cause usually determines the method needed to fix it. Here’s how to fix popped engineered hardwood floors.

Fixing Loose Wood Floor Panels

If you have access to space underneath your floors, maybe through a basement, you can fix loose planks by driving screws into them. Here’s an easy procedure to fix the loose panels from above:

Locate the specific wood floor panel that produces the popping sound by walking across the floor slowly; when you locate the loose planks, mark the spot with masking tape.

Inspect the area around the marked spot with a deep-scanning stud finder to identify the floor joist that supports the wood panel.

If you don’t have a deep scanning stud finder, simply look for putty-covered top nails to spot the floor joists.

Mark the midpoint of the popping wood panel and drill a tiny hole into the panel’s center; this helps you to prevent splitting the panel.

With a ten penny finish nail, attach the wooden panel to the floor joist underneath. Then pour wood-colored putty on the nail’s head and allow it to dry.

Once the putty is dry, walk around the area to check if the popping noise has reduced.

Avoid installing too many nails in one-floor panel area; doing so can cause the hardwood to split. But, if the popping sounds persists, you can drive an extra nail 2-3 rows away from the first nail.

Read: How to fix squeaky stairs

Fixing a Loose Nail in Hardwood Floors

Check the floor for any nail that might have missed the joist at the area that produces the popping noise. When a nail misses a joist, it rubs against the framing below, creating a popping sound as you walk across the floor.

Fixing this situation is very easy. Simple take out the faulty nail. 

Fixing Loose Wood Floor Panels Using Glue

You can also fix loose panels with glue. If you have access to the space underneath the boards, use glue to secure them back down.

You can also drill tiny holes into each panel and then squeeze mixed epoxy into the holes. Place a heavy book on the panels until they become completely dry. Once dry, clean up the holes and use a matching color wood putty to fill up the holes.

If your floor is already glued down, there’s still a way to put an end to the popping noises. 

Use a flashlight to inspect for any gap between the top floor joist and the subfloor underside. If you notice a tiny gap, you can apply some carpenter’s glue onto a thin wood shim and push it into the tiny space.

The shim will fill up the void and prevent the floor from moving, which in turn helps to silence the annoying squeaks and popping sounds.

This, however, might not be effective for large empty spaces. For large gaps, you will need to remove the entire creaking boards, level up the subfloor then install new floorboards.

Read: Can engineered wood floors be refinished?

Fixing Loose Subfloor Material

If the popping sound on your floor is caused by loose subfloor material, here’s how to fix it:

Start by applying some subfloor adhesive into the space between the joist and the underside of the loose-fitting subfloor panel.

Also, apply some glue on the top side of a 1′ (2.5 cm) long piece of 2×4 floor joist, and place it on the underside of the affected subfloor. 

Secure this piece to the side of the joist with nails, then hold it down by placing an item with heavyweight on the floor and wait until the glue dries.

To effectively minimize engineered wood floor noises, ensure to use proper building techniques. Here are some good building practices that will help to reduce annoying noises when followed:

  • Squeeze adhesive between floor joists and the floor sheathing and allow the glue to dry completely before setting the sheathing to avoid squeaks 
  • Attach the subfloor sheathing to the joist using ring shank nails or screws rather than standard smooth nails as they stay in position better.

Read: How to install end grain flooring


Engineered hardwood floor popping noise can be caused by several reasons, but sing baby powder has been known to work wonders.

The best way to avoid popping noise is most importantly by allowing the wood to acclimate to the house and always nail properly down to the subfloor as well as using the right sized fasteners.

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