How to Fix Squeaky Floors
Time Required: Under 2 hours
Though they are a nuisance, squeaky floors and stairs can be fixed quickly and affordably. 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.
Learning how to fix squeaky floors is simply a matter of determining which area the problem is coming from. Depending on the type of creaky floors you have, your technique could change. For squeaky floor repair, begin from underneath the floor, 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 fix a floor covered with deep-pile carpet, drive a wallboard screw through the carpet and pad into the floor joist. Countersink the screw head into the subfloor. This releases any trapped pad under the screw head and allows the carpet to lie flat.
This guide will teach you how to fix squeaky floors with simple but thorough step-by-step instructions.
When determining how to fix squeaky floors, start by shimming the subfloor, if possible. Creaky floors occur when the subfloor has been separated from floor joists. You can solve this by shimming the subfloor.
- Wedge shims between the joist and subfloor, and use a clawhammer to tap them into place.
- Don't pound the shims because they could lift the floorboards and cause more squeaking.
If several boards in the subfloor above a joist are moving, securing them with a cleat, or a solid piece of lumber, works better than shimming the boards individually. A 1 x 4 wedged against the subfloor and nailed to the joist solves this problem.
- Cut your block to fit snugly in place against the joist.
- Secure the blocking with drywall screws. If you have several spots to do this, just repeat steps as necessary.
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.
Oftentimes, the squeaks and creaks you hear are caused by the floorboards rubbing against nails or the floorboards. Driving short screws through the bottom of the subfloor through the bottom of the finished floor can alleviate the noise.
- Using your power drill, make 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.
Tip: Be sure that you are using short screws to avoid having to fix a floor or repair damage. You do not want the screws to break through the top of the finished flooring.
When it comes to figuring out how to fix squeaky stairs, it's important to understand where the noise is coming from. Interior staircases tend to squeak because they are made up of a variety of wooden stair parts that contract and expand over time.
You can use a few methods to stop creaks:
- 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.