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Stopping Squeaks


Floors and stairs squeak when wooden floorboards or structural elements rub against each other, when the bridging between joists flexes under traffic or when floorboards have not been properly nailed to the subfloor.


Fix squeaks from underneath the floor or staircase, if you can. If the underside is covered, you will have to work from above. With hardwood floors, drive ring-shank or cement-coated flooring nails into the seams between boards. Separate wooden bridging members to eliminate noise problems.


To quiet a squeaky floor covered with deep-pile carpet, drive a wallboard screw through the carpet and pad into the floor joist. Countersink the screw head in the subfloor. This releases any trapped pad under the screw head and allows the carpet to lie flat.




Step 1: Shimming the subfloor

Shimming the subfloor

If floor joists are not tight against the subfloor in the area that's squeaking, shimming may solve the problem. Wedge shims between the joist and subfloor, and tap them into place. Don't pound the shims because they could lift the floorboards and cause more squeaking.


Step 2: Cleaning the subfloor

Cleating the Subfloor

Where several boards in the subfloor above a joist are moving, securing them with a cleat works better than shimming the boards individually. A piece of 1x4, wedged against the subfloor and nailed to the joist solves this problem.


Step 3: Reinforcing joists

Reinforcing Joists

Squeaking over a large area may indicate that the joists beneath the floor are shifting slightly and inadequately supporting the subfloor. Steel bridging, nailed between joists, keeps the joists from moving side to side and stabilizes the subfloor.


Step 4: Driving screws from below

Driving Screws From Below

Drill a pilot hole through the subfloor, then a smaller pilot hole into the finished floor. Have someone stand on the raised boards while you pull them tight with a wood screw.


Step 5: Nailing from above

Nailing From Above

When you can't get access to the floor from below, drill pilot holes and nail through the surface. Locate the floor joists and nail directly into them for a fastening job that won't work loose. Countersink the nail heads.


Step 6: Anchoring stair treads to risers

Anchoring Stair Treads to Risers

Driving flooring nails at opposing angles assures they won't come loose again. With hardwood treads, drill pilot holes for the nails, drive the nails into the risers, and countersink the nail heads. Fill the nail holes with wood putty.