Stopping Squeaks in Your Floors and Stairs
Time Required: Under 2 hours
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.
This guide details how to stop squeaks in both floors and stairs.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.