For Homeowner

How to Reduce Floor Vibrations in Residential Construction

Oct 23, 2019
Design Everest

Floor vibrations is a common issue that most of us have faced at some point of time. Be it the creaking and thumping from the movement of the people above or the complaints of people living on the floor below, both sides of the problem can be annoying. While there can be a number of reasons for floor vibrations, there are ways to fix or minimize this problem. Once the cause of the vibrations is identified, the appropriate method can be used to resolve the issue.

1. Flooring systems in construction

Flooring systems in a house are generally safe and comply with standard building code. However, even if the floor system is adequate, movement caused by deflection can cause vibrations, creaks, and other undesired consequences. Many homeowners are sensitive to floor vibrations as a result of heavy foot traffic, and this is often a subjective concept as what feels fine for one person can be irritating for another. Squeaks and sounds can also be mistaken for a rickety floor. Often times it is simple changes in floor usage or joist spans that result in floor complaints. When building a home from the ground-up, the homeowner and builder will want to take floor vibrations into consideration when determining the framing of the home, in order to avoid complications.

2. Causes of floor vibrations

Floor vibrations are generally related to human activity, vibrating machinery and external forces. Walking is the most common source of floor vibrations and more than anything is simply considered a nuisance. Machine-induced vibrations, like a running washing machine, can fortunately be fixed by isolating mounts or motion arrest pads.

Wood framed floors are the most typical culprit of floor vibrations due to small deflections up and down as the joists are loaded and unloaded. While this type of floor is designed to support people, furniture, and large appliances, certain movements can cause a floor to vibrate over time. In newer construction homes, wood flooring is installed with wood screws and construction adhesive which can help to stabilize vibrations, and joists are designed to minimize these deflections. However, in older homes where subfloors were nailed in, the nails can begin to loosen over time. Thus walking across a floor with a loose subfloor or running an appliance like the dishwasher can cause vibrations.

3. Steps to preventing floor vibrations

First, homeowners must determine where the floor is in need of fixing. Hiring a contractor or engineer is an easy solution to locating and advising on how to fix the problem. If you have a general idea as to where the vibrations occur, mark these areas so you can easily identify them.

Once the area of concern is located, the underfloor will need to be accessed in order to fix the vibration problem. A contractor can open up a small, repairable hole in the ceiling underneath these spots for them or the engineer to identify possible causes. Structural plans of the existing building can also help to identify issues. The contractor and engineer can then work to provide a solution, such as extra blocks between joists, wood screws and adhesives, or additional joists or supports.

In new construction, code requirements take deflections and vibrations into account more than previous designs, and this tends to reduce these issues when building from scratch. However, you can always discuss these concerns with your engineer. He or she can advise on if increasing the size of new joists or decreasing certain spans may help to reduce this effect, or designing for a larger live load than required. Test results have found that increasing joist depth and sheathing thickness can greatly reduce floor vibrations. A final element to help prevent vibrations is making sure floor sheathing is glued and screws are used over nails to control long-term bounce.

4. Alternate Joist Systems

New systems have also been created with this problem in mind. One example is TJIs, which provide longer acceptable joist spans while using less wood material and providing less deflection over these spans. To help designers and builders avoid complaints about floor vibrations, especially with new construction, they provide a free floor analysis system called the TJ-Pro Ratings System. The software uses algorithms to correlate floor vibration with customer satisfaction. The information is then used by the builder to control joist depth, joist span, joist series, and floor sheathing thickness.

TJI joists were designed to help to ensure high-performance flooring, especially in a newly constructed homes. According to Weyerhaeuser.com, the TJI joists resist warping, twisting and shrinking that often leads to squeaky, vibrating floors. They offer a source of framing that is easier to install and comes in long lightweight lengths.

The benefits of utilizing TJI joists for your floor plans include:

  • Long lengths for versatile floor plans
  • Ease of installation
  • Durable performance
  • Lifetime product warranty
  • TJ-Pro Rating system to ensure customer satisfaction

At Design Everest, we have experience with many different types of floors including TJIs. We can provide structural evaluations of your existing structure, as well as design services to update your existing home or construct a brand new one. Contact Design Everest at 877-704-5687 to get started.

Sources:
[1] https://www.weyerhaeuser.com/woodproducts/engineered-lumber/tji-joists/
[2] https://www.sbcmag.info/news/2015/dec/techniques-control-reduce-floor-vibration
[3] http://www.woodworks.org/wp-content/uploads/seaoo_2012_conference_design_of_wood_floors_to_mitigate_floor_vibration_problems.pdf

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