Putting it to the Test: Sub-Flooring Taken to Extremes Inside and Outside the Lab

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Proof of performance is crucial for builders and contractors considering new products, and the seemingly simple sub-floor is no exception. Like most building materials, all sub-flooring panels undergo some measure of product testing before they’re introduced to the industry. But a few panels go even further.

When developing its new line of LP Legacy premium sub-flooring, LP Building Solutions put the panels not just through the traditional in-house testing and industry-standard testing procedures, but also a barrage of extreme testing scenarios—at a laboratory in Maine and in the wilds of nature—to see just how well they could stand up to anything Mother Nature has in store.

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Science Speaks

LP’s efforts to push Legacy premium sub-flooring panels far beyond industry standards included sending the panels to the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center. There, wood scientists put the LP Legacy panels, along with plywood and commodity OSB, through seven months of rigorous testing to determine real-world performance. Unlike lab tests for strength and stiffness that might last an hour, the university’s study took place over a 14-month period including a conditioning phase to truly emulate the conditions builders and homeowners see in the real world.

The university’s study consisted of four phases:

Phase 1:
Fastener holding capacity tested by creating small-scale floors of oak hardwood flooring stapled to the sub-floor and pulled off with a specially designed test jig. LP Legacy offered a 35% higher withdrawal capacity compared to the other two subjects.

sub-flooring LP Legacy
For Phase 1, testers attached the sub-floor panels to hardwood flooring and forced them apart on a jig to gauge fastener-holding capacity.

Phase 2:

Testers subjected the panels to a simulated rainstorm for eight hours, brought the panels back down to their original moisture content for 48 hours, and then repeated the process two more times. LP Legacy absorbed significantly less water compared to the other two products, and once again had the highest fastener holding capacity.

Phase 3:

Testers simulated seasonal moisture variations that exist in most homes by taking the samples from the Phase 2 wetting cycle, attaching hardwood flooring, and cycling between moisture extremes in a conditioning chamber. After the first three phases, the LP Legacy sub-flooring panels had no significant dimensional changes.

LP Legacy sub-flooring test
Panel subjects were placed in the conditioning chamber for four months.

Phase 4:
Finally, the panels underwent a 50,000-footstep load simulation. Testers looked for floor squeaks, as well as the withdrawal capacity of fasteners after all of the exposures. After four phases of testing, the fastener capacity of LP Legacy remained virtually unchanged.

LP Legacy sub-flooring test
In Phase 4, a machine simulated walking on the panels 50,000 times.

“After all of the exposures, the repeated wetting, the repeated hydrothermal cycling, and the repeated loading, the fastener capacity of Legacy sub-floor has virtually remained unchanged,” reported Benjamin Herzog, a Wood Technologist for the University of Maine who was conducting the tests.

Made with Gorilla Glue Technology, LP Legacy sub-flooring is the strongest in its class and one of the industry’s stiffest panels. The panel’s stiffness makes it ideal for hardwood flooring and tile applications, and high panel density provides exceptional fastener holding strength and a quieter floor. And with superior moisture resistance, LP Legacy sub-floor panels carry a Covered Until It’s Covered no-sand warranty.

Testing to the Extreme

The University of Maine tests add to the many others LP has conducted over the past several years to push LP Legacy to its limits and help builders see how it will perform under jobsite conditions (and then some).

The three-stage Tested Extreme campaign put the panels through conditions that go far beyond what a contractor would experience on the jobsite. In the first, an LP Legacy panel was sent over the edge of British Columbia’s Britannia Falls, a 70-foot drop flowing at 625 cubic feet per second. The panel then remained in the falls’ swirling wake overnight. Twenty-four hours later, when the team retrieved the board from the river, the panel showed some bumps and bruises but no signs of swelling.

In the second test, LP trekked back into the rainforest, where pro mountain bikers used Legacy panels to make bike ramps. The athletes showed no mercy as they rode, jumped, and pounded on the panels during a torrential storm to showcase the strength and moisture resistance of LP’s premium sub-flooring.

Sub-Flooring LP Legacy
Bike ramps made with LP Legacy withstood repeated pounding from mountain bikers in the pouring rain.

Most recently, the team built a shark cage partially using Legacy panels and immersed it in the ocean off the coast of Mexico. Crew members and LP experts took turns lowering themselves into the water inside the cage to brave one of the most feared predators in the animal world.

The shark cage remained immersed in the Pacific Ocean for 28 hours, during which time 23 sharks were sighted—the largest one weighing close to 2,500 pounds of solid muscle. The cage kept divers safe, standing up to difficult conditions far beyond what one would find on the jobsite.

LP Legacy panels helped keep divers safe from great white sharks during full submersion.

What does this all mean for dealers and their contractor customers? LP Legacy offers the features and benefits builders want in a premium sub-flooring panel, including moisture resistance in any weather, a smooth-fitting tongue-and-groove, and much more. And it’s all backed by extensive proof of performance.

View all three Tested Extreme challenges here. To learn more about the University of Maine testing and hear from the scientists conducting the study, watch this video.

Click here to learn more about LP Legacy premium sub-flooring.

Note: The views expressed by University of Maine staff should not in any way be considered to be, and do not constitute or imply, the endorsement, recommendation, or favoring of any particular product.

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