Apart from alerting you someone is in your house, squeaky floors are a pain in the ear. Do you know you don’t need a pro to reclaim quiet tip-toes for your home?
This article will show you how a picture is worth a thousand words let’s first familiarize with the layout of a wooden floor:
What Causes Wooden Floors to be Squeaky?
Though squeaking is common in old houses, it can occur in new ones as well. Here are some of the causes:
- Loose floorboards rubbing either against each other or against the sub-board.
- Wear and tear from aging causing gaps between the joist and floorboards.
- Missing or insufficient nails.
- Poor support or inadequate bridging.
How to Fix a Squeaky Floor
There are two ways of doing this: From below the floor, and from above it.
Fixing from below:
This is the surer intervention of the two. It requires access to the under-floor, either through the basement or the crawlspace.
It is important first to clear up this access because chances are, you don’t clean the space that often.
The ABC of fixing a loud floor is:
a) Identify the exact squeak point by having someone walk on the floor as you listen
b) Using a flashlight, ascertain the cause of the squeak (check the location of the squeak for the
the problem, e.g. gap or missing nail).
c) Fix the problem using the appropriate method.
Let’s now walk through the various repair methods:
For missing or improperly hammered in nails, either clips them by diagonal cutters or drive new nails into the joists properly, to prevent the floorboards from rubbing against each other.
If the squeak is caused by gaps between the subfloor and the joist, shims covered in carpenter’s glue can be used to fill the gap thus preventing the floor from moving up and down.
The shim shouldn’t be hammered or pushed in too far, lest a hump forms on the floor-top.
In cases where the gap is too small, or you can’t figure the cause of the squeak, use construction adhesive by applying it on the entire length of the joist and letting it dry (Drying may take up to one week).
Sometimes the gap is long, probably the entire length of the joist. The construction adhesion still is handy. Using a caulking gun (See Current Price on Amazon), force the adhesive into the space between the joist and the subfloor.
It helps to use heavy objects to weight down the floor from above to compress the board, making your repairs more effective.
Where squeaks arise from a faulty support or bridging, additional bridging support or nail blocks help offer added support and fix any sagging.
For additional support, add a 2X4 or 2X6 block alongside the problem joist. After applying a continuous bead of construction adhesive on the top edge of the block, hold the flat side of the block against the joist, and slide it up tight against the subfloor.
Reinforce the block using nails. You can also choose to install solid blocking between joists. It’s essential to measure the exact spacing needed for this support.
Floorboards rubbing against the subfloor may cause squeaks in between joists. A nail from the subfloor into the floorboard can curb this movement.
Care should, however, be taken when driving nails or screws in from the subfloors because the nail needs to reach the floorboard, but not go all the way through to poke out through the top.
Square drive screws or drywall screws are best in this regard. The Squeak No More kit has a choice selection of appropriate screws.
Fixing from Above:
When you have no access to the under-floor, you could simply opt to lubricate the floorboards (works only if the squeaking is from the floorboards rubbing against each other).
Sprinkle talcum powder, powdered graphite or soapstone into the floorboard joints. Walk over the floorboards to help the lubricant seep in.
Repeat the process until the squeaking dies down. Spraying the floorboards with WD- 40 is another viable solution. However, lubrication is simply a stop-gap measure until a proper repair can be done.
A sure way of fixing squeaky floors from the top is counter-sinking nails and screws into the floorboards right angles with the joists.
Dual-pitch screws are an excellent choice for this. The holes left by the crew can be filled using wood filler. If your hardwood floor is covered by carpet, you may have to roll it back.
The Squeak Ender Kit is quite handy for fixing the floor top-side and has an option for driving in the screws without removing the carpet.
If you have reservations about sinking nails into the top of your hardwood floor though, carpenter’s glue and a putty knife can come to your rescue.
Pour the glue in-between the floorboards and use the putty knife to work it in. Put a weight over the area and allow it to dry. To ensure proper filling, an additional glue layer after drying would suffice.
At last, the squeaky hardwood floors can become a thing of the movies, for you. All you need is a little time (no more than 10 minutes), someone to ‘squeak’ the floor (for the last time, hopefully) and inexpensive materials.
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