Drop-and-lock install issues (engineered cork)

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Old 12-21-14, 01:18 PM
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Drop-and-lock install issues (engineered cork)

I am installing (or trying to, rather) a floating floor that uses the "drop and lock" system. The subfloor is concrete, then platon (moisture barrier), and then the foam underlayment.

It seems that the planks don't lock into place well. Most pieces seem to just slip right out; however, some (very few) pieces join together and can't be easily pulled apart. This is after using tap blocks, lots of elbow grease, etc.

Could the issue be the subfloor? Should I consider putting OSB on top to help flatten it out?

Or is it just a matter of getting them to connect right? Sometimes even ones that seem to be installed okay "pop out" after additional rows.

If it makes a difference, I was hoping to put a pool table on it as well.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 01:33 PM
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Are you using true drop and lock, or click lock on edges and ends? Can you link us to the product you are laying? Normally the prescribed underlayment is all that is required unless the manufacturer says otherwise.
We laid about 200 sf in our bedroom/closet a few weeks ago, and the ends did not lock to each other. The next row held it in place. It ran fast. 3 1/2 hours including moving all the furniture out, pulling carpet, padding, tack strips staples, etc. I have found the click lock ends create problems in fit that the drop and lock don't.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 02:16 PM
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You're on this forum too, chandler? You know it all.

The product I'm using is US Floors Almada. Here is the install instructions. It says that it can go on concrete w/underlayment and moisture barrier below grade.

I thought my install would go like yours did from what I'd read. Sadly, I am already about 16 hours into this and only have a few rows that aren't up to snuff.

http://www.usfloorsllc.com/wp-conten...structions.pdf

It has the same T&G as this video. But even when I tilt it up and in, most of the time I can pull it right out with a gentle tug. Doesn't seem secure enough.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXPqItNU5H4
 
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Old 12-21-14, 02:29 PM
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You're on this forum too, chandler? You know it all.
Not at all. That's why I am here, too. I've just been in construction for over 20 years and have done most of the stuff, so experience is a good teacher. Mistakes are even better teachers

Now, you say you have "engineered" flooring, but the video we saw was for laminate. Hopefully you do have engineered flooring. You will get a better end product, especially for below grade, where most laminate is forbidden.

I am not sure why your installation is going awry. You do have to make sure the initial insertion of the long side goes in firmly. You may need to increase your angle of attack, depending on the flooring brand, but the ends are much better than older style, since they lay over rather than click in, which can result in broken surface pieces.

Would it be possible for you to post a couple of pictures of your problem areas? It may give us better insight as to what you need to do.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 02:41 PM
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It is engineered wood (cork) and designed for below grade. Yeah, that was the only video I could find with my connection type (I assumed I was doing something totally wrong, but I'm basically doing what he does).

Here are some pictures. The one shows the connection method and what I think it should look like. The other two show some problems. Sometimes ones that I thought were in "pop out". When this happens, I have to undo several rows to get back to the board. This happens especially with pressure.

Other times, there are just gaps and it doesn't look like a strong connection...this was hard to capture with a picture.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 03:05 PM
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One question. Are you starting at the left corner and moving right?
 
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Old 12-21-14, 03:07 PM
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Make sure that there is no debris or other junk in the tongue or groove of the boards. Inspect each as you go. The boards have to engage the groove along the entire length of the board AT THE SAME TIME. It sometimes requires you to have to hold the previous board you installed in the air slightly. I sometimes kick out my foot to hold steady the far end while I get the middle and new leading edge engaged. Then, slowly lower the board - it should provide a little resistance, but wiggle it up and down as you lower to make sure it engages. If it doesn't sit down nicely, it is not engaged correctly.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 03:14 PM
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I was starting left and moving right at first. I had to switch that up after watching the video because otherwise I can't "drop" the end joints in. The "hook" is on the right side of the board (second photo).

czizzi - Thanks for the tips. How "engaged" should it be? Should I be able to pull it out after it is in without tilting?
 
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Old 12-21-14, 03:59 PM
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How "engaged" should it be?
When tilted, you need to be fully engaged. When looking at it from the top side looking at the joint, you should not be able to see any of the tongue prior to setting it down. If the boards have any kind of warp to them, it will make the full contact of the joint a little more cumbersome. When installed correctly, it should take an act of god to disengage the tow pieces if they are flat to the ground. Keep trying each piece for tight fit before moving on.

Work in the direction that has you inserting the tongue on the end and the tongue on the long side in at the same time. Left or right is meaningless depending on if you are working with the boards moving toward you or away from you.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 04:11 PM
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And from what I see in the pictures, you have laminate, not engineered flooring. Hope I am wrong.

The only thing right and left have a meaning on is the starting row, since obviously you have to start with yourself in the room facing the wall. groove to the wall.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 04:41 PM
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It sometimes requires you to have to hold the previous board you installed in the air slightly
Above is a quote from Z. I just wanted to stress the point and make sure you didn't miss it.

A wedge comes in handy to lift the previous plank installed. Below is a pic of area you need to lift while inserting next plank.

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Old 12-21-14, 05:41 PM
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Thanks all. I'll keep going at it. That picture helps, Handyone. I have noticed that sometimes the last one has to be moved too. That's why I'm liking a "step" pattern.

czizzi - You mention it should take an act of god to pull them apart...I have only had that type of connection on a few pieces. It is possible that this is a manufacturing issue? I am tilting at the angle and putting all my weight into trying to get the tongue to slip in...I never get that fit.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 05:52 PM
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Is your floor flat? If it is, could be defective flooring since some is going together right.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 06:43 PM
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I may be wrong, but after looking at your pictures again, it looks like you are laying your floor in the wrong direction.
If you look at your floor like a rectangle (from above), or let's say the shape of an envelope, you need to start the first board in the upper left corner.
 
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Old 12-22-14, 04:44 AM
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Forget the floor for now, instead, lets practice. Take two boards and put one on the floor. Next, working on the groove side of the one on the floor, practice inserting the tongue of the 2nd board into the groove of the 1st at a 45 degree angle. Then slowly push the 2nd board down until it lays flat on the floor. If it is not perfectly flat, it is not engaged. Lift back up and wiggle it until it settles down flat to the floor. Then look closely at the lock mechanism from the end, you will see how it needs to fit. Do this several times until it becomes routine. Then try to duplicate that on the floor. Again, if not perfectly flat to the subfloor, you have not properly engaged the locking mechanism.
 
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Old 12-22-14, 07:13 AM
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I'm not seeing any that are locked in tight.
There should be 0 gaps any place.
You can not just "drop and lock" that type flooring.
The easiest way I've found is to lay out a whole row about 1" away from the row before it, just over lapping the short butt joints.
Trying to do it one piece at a time takes to long and you end up damaging the flooring by trying to lock in the short butt joints.
Then using several people side it over and lift it up to engage where it locks, now start lowering and raising it getting it closer to the floor each time allowing it to work into the grove.
Trying to lower it in one motion is not going to work and as you can see it will not sit flat on the floor.
Once it's locked in and there's 0 gaps, tap across the whole face of it with a dead blow hammer.
A better grade of flooring with a built in vapor barrier would have been a whole lot easier to install.
 
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Old 12-22-14, 10:54 AM
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Update: I have managed to get the flooring to connect together (still a few problems to solve, but on the way -- I think).

Thanks to everyone for the advice and a summary of what helped me most for those searching later.

A few things that really worked for me:

1. Using pieces of cut up flooring as spacers. The plastic spacers were too flimsy and didn't sit against the wall reliably when I pushed on them. This was important since it takes some pushing to establish the connection.
2. Weighing down the first row with the unused flooring boxes. This really helped me make the connections.
3. Going in at a steep angle and applying pressure across the whole piece.
4. Trying another piece when one wouldn't make a good fit. Sometimes two don't seem to go together.

Problems remain: my first row has a wall that is not perfectly straight. You can see in the picture that I had to make a hitch in it when I framed. The foundation was horribly out of square. So, the first run of the wall (which I built) is straight, but then it is not after the hitch. Once I get this properly spaced and straight, I think I'll be good to go. Even slight (1/32") differences won't allow the pieces to join properly.

czizzi: thanks for explaining it. It really helped me establish the connections.
Handyone: my flooring seems to be "backward" from some others. The grooves are on the bottom and left sides. So I need to work right to left and drop the tongue into the left side of the new piece.
joecaption1: unfortunately, I thought I was getting quality. This brand was recommended by several flooring retailers and was not cheap (up to $7.5/sq ft at one of them). I got it for just under $5/sq ft, but still not cheap by any means.
 
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Old 12-22-14, 12:01 PM
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The easiest way I've found is to lay out a whole row about 1" away from the row before it, just over lapping the short butt joints.
Joe, youi can't lay out a "row" of this flooring. The ends do not engage each other. One piece at a time is the only way to do it.
 
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Old 12-22-14, 02:30 PM
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Joe, for the amount of click lock flooring that I have put in, I have always worked alone and never had an issue with either drop lock or traditional end lock systems.

8 years ago, I was working with another person, who I swear, just did not get the concept of click lock flooring. He would sit there and bang away with the tapping block and get no where other than chip and ruin the piece of flooring. I tried to teach him, even showed him that no tools are necessary. He wasted so much material that I felt I had to rebate the homeowner for excessive waste. I sent him home early.

Chris, It looks from your picture that the ends are still standing up a little bit. Will it settle down if you removed the heavy boxes from the wall area? Also, give us the specs on the underlayment you are using, is it real thick? Don't think I have every seen that brand. Was it a recommended underlayment from the manufacturer?
 
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Old 12-22-14, 03:15 PM
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I don't mind saying I'm at a loss. Follow Czizzi and you can't go wrong. You're having a hard time getting this floor connected and laying flat. That should not be. If need be, practice on very short pieces (away from work area), and just study what it takes to join the pieces and make them flat.
 
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Old 12-22-14, 04:10 PM
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After another 10 hours and not much progress, I'm going to try to call in reinforcements. Anyone know someone in MD who has used this type of flooring and is looking for two days of work?

czizzi - my ends are standing up. In this video at 7:30 (which has same mechanism), the guy says it's okay and will flatten out as I add more rows. Not true from your experience?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXPqItNU5H4

For the underlayment, I'm using platon as a moisture barrier and then a foam underlayment from home depot.

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Old 12-22-14, 04:23 PM
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Now I really think that your issue is with the underlayment and not your flooring. I have never heard of this Platon membrane, but from the quick pictures I saw, it would not be compatible with any type of click lock flooring. All you need is a vapor barrier rated underlayment foam cushion. That Platon, looks like an inch thick nightmare. Click lock need a solid surface (not platon) and a sound deadening underlayment. Too thick is the killer here.
 
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Old 12-22-14, 04:39 PM
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It's funny because they market it for underneath click flooring.

Platon Flooring | Armtec

Maybe my floor isn't flat enough? So back to the OSB idea to flatten it out?
 
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Old 12-22-14, 04:50 PM
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Oh my. Why the platon? Using Roberts red with white dots will not only give you an excellent moisture barrier, but a cushion to the flooring and the dots provide some ventilation between the floor and the wood. I believe, Z has hit the nail.
 
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