Squeaky floors are no friends of discrete, sneaking kids or adults hunting for a night snack in the kitchen. This noise gives it off and alerts everyone of the little secret stuff going on in the house.
Generally speaking, the root cause of this cacophony of floor creaks and squeaks is loose wooden floorboards. These annoying floor squeaks are produced by the boards rubbing against each other or sliding against the nail shafts.
Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank or hire a technician to silence these irritating noises; there are simple DIY tips and tricks to silence squeaky floors.
Identifying The Problem: Where Is The Squeak Coming From?
When your floor squeaks or creaks, there’s no need for a rush of panic. This cacophony does not signal structural damage. Pests like termites are usually responsible for your joist or floor collapsing and can be costly to repair.
On the contrary, squeaking floors are a cinch to repair with simple DIY methods. While any floor can creak, this issue is common with staircases and hardwood floors. Wood flooring expands after drying up, which is responsible for rubbing against the subfloor, nail casing, or each other.
So, to address these minor repairs, homeowners must figure out the exact area generating the noise. As you move around on the hardwood flooring, pay close attention to the spot making the irritating sound.
Board to Board
If the reason for the squeaky noise is the floorboard rubbing against each other, then the source of the noise is a spot on your hardwood flooring. The easier way to identify this problem is to keep stepping on the floor until you notice one of them move.
When the subfloor is at fault, the creaking noise will seem to be produced from a larger area as you walk across it.
Why Do Floors Creak?
Most homeowners assume the primary reason for the floor noise is because of their aging homes. Sadly, that’s not true, as new homes are susceptible to this issue.
There are a lot of factors that contribute to the irritating noise from your floor, especially seasonal changes. As mentioned earlier, hardwood floors tend to shrink during winter creating gaps between the subfloor and floorboards, while in the summertime, it swells, resulting in the squeaky noise.
Hence, if this cacophony of creak and squeaky does not disappear with the weather shift, we recommend allowing a professional to address this issue, as it might be a major one.
Step-by-step Guide on How to Fix Squeaky Hardwood Floor
The truth is everyone finds the annoying squeak irritating. Not to mention trying to make a quick, silent trip to the kitchen without waking up others.
Here are a couple of practical ways to put an end to the maddening and annoying squeaky floor noise without splurging on these minor repairs:
Slide a Shim into the gap
You can easily address the problem from underneath for homes with easy access to the underside of the floors and an unfinished basement ceiling.
To do this:
- Have someone walk on the above floor while you listen for the creaks and spot the exact location causing the noise.
- With a flashlight, inspect the spot for gaps between the subfloor and the joist of the upper floor.
- If there’s one, slide the gap with a shim and apply the carpenter’s glue.
It’s vital to not hammer or force the shim into the gap to avoid causing bumps on the top floor. Repeat this process for other affected areas to address the root cause of the noise.
Faulty Joist? Nail a Piece of Wood
With time, floor joists tend to decay, warp, or shrink. This causes a large gap between the joists and the subfloor. When that happens, the squeaky floor noise is inevitable as you walk across these faulty joist areas.
Fortunately, there’s an easy fix to this problem. Simply nail a piece of wood, either 2 by 6 or 2 by 4, into the faulty spots. Also, applying construction adhesive on the piece of wood before screwing it to the subfloor helps hold the wood flat and secure against the wrapped joist.
Install Blocks of Wood Between Squeaky Joists
Another simple DIY solution to creak-making floor joists is placing matching wood blocks between the affected joists. This means that if the joists measure two by 8, then cut and put a two by eight wood piece into the space. Remember, it’s crucial to ensure the new piece of lumber fits snugly without having to force it between the joists.
Likewise, for effective results, apply construction adhesives to the top surface of the newly-cut wood blocks meant to touch the subfloor for foolproof repairs before holding it securely with nails or screws.
Fill Long Gaps with Construction Adhesive
While some fault joists can easily be fixed by sliding shims, they are ineffective regarding long gaps. Instead, we recommend applying construction adhesives into these long gaps with a caulking gun. The hardened adhesive helps preclude any movement on the floor as you walk across them.
Also, it’s essential to check both sides of the joist for gaps and fill it with adhesives. Fixing one side alone will only reduce the squeaky noise and leave you confused and ready to call a carpenter.
Secure the Subfloor to the Finished Floor
If the reason for the annoying noise is the separation between the subfloor and the finished floor, fastening both with a short screw should fix it. It’s better to drive the screws from the subfloor’s underside into the bottom of the flooring. Doing this the other way around will damage your expensive hardwood flooring.
Also, you want to drive only short screws to prevent the tips from overshooting on the floorboards, which can be responsible for some serious injuries. Poking screws are more dangerous than a squeaky floorboard.
No one wants to go this route when it comes to fixing squeaky hardwood floors. While it sounds like an implausible solution, floorboard lubricants are great for solving creaking floor noise. However, this method works best when there’s trouble reaching the gap under the floor.
Using dry lubricants such as talcum powder helps seal the space between the floorboards. But it’s important to walk over the boards to ensure the dry lubricants settle evenly into the gaps for firm, non-squeaky results. These products are designed to attenuate the friction between the floorboards to end the slight creak noise for a short period.
There are areas more prone to having voids responsible for the squeaky noise. These areas include low or high spots in the subfloor seams, out-of-level joists, heaving beans, and construction residue on the subfloor.
One of the common causes is water staining. Therefore, it’s wise to keep the house dry, fix any leaks ASAP, and clean spills quickly to prevent water from getting trapped beneath the boards.
Both old and new homes can be noisy. However, these problems are easy to fix. Voids created in the hardwood floor due to seasonal changes might be the reason you are experiencing terrible squeaking noise.
Squeaky floor noise makes late-night activity difficult. How do you walk across without causing a nuisance with each step making an annoying noise? Fortunately, we’ve provided a couple of easy-to-follow tips on how to fix squeaky hardwood floors.
If you don’t mind driving some nails and screws into a piece of wood and becoming a squeaky noise detective, these tips should help you fix the noise without having to call a professional to address the issue.