Learning How to Fix a Squeaky Wood Floor is a challenge you’re likely to face as a homeowner. So how do you eliminate squeaks in your flooring? It’s actually fairly simple. Find the squeak then use one of the best methods we describe below to eliminate the dreadful noise. Today we’ll show you 5 simple DIY options for how to fix a squeaky wood floor – and enjoy your home free from annoying floor creaks.
How to Fix A Squeaky Wood Floor
Why Do Floors Squeak?
Although you’ve probably heard wooden floorboards squeak hundreds if not thousands of times, you may never have thought about Why wood floors squeak. When a floorboard creaks, it’s a sign that it is rubbing against another wood surface.
Generally, the rubbing is either between two floorboards or between floorboards and the subfloor below. When pressure is applied, the two surfaces rub against each other, resulting in an annoying creak or squeak.
Now that you know what causes a wooden floor to squeak let’s take a look at some of the simple DIY solutions and how to fix the problem.
How To “Find” Floor Squeak:
Before you can address the squeaking, you need to find out exactly where it is and what’s causing it. The best way to do this is to work with another person. Have the second person walk over the floor while you go downstairs and listen.
Assuming you have open floor joists (no finished ceilings) in your lower level, have someone walk directly above you. When you hear squeaks, look at the floor joists and visually inspect that location for gaps between the floor joists and the wood subfloor above it.
Whenever you hear a squeak, Mark the location of each Squeak with painters tape (carpet) or “X” with a pencil (hardwood floor).
Identifying creaky floorboards might take a while, but the process will carefully help you to pin down where your floor is squeaking.
Five Ways To Fix Squeaky Wood Floors:
Once you have located and “marked” all the squeaks in your floors, use one of the five options below to fix wood floor squeaks:
1) Use “Shims” to Fill Small Gaps
If you see small gaps between the subfloor and joists that are allowing the boards to shift and rub against other surfaces, using a pack of Cedar Shims is likely the best solution.
Shims don’t need to be nailed or screwed into place. Just use a little construction adhesive to help keep them firmly in place until dry.
Before you set shims permanently – test the shims you have in place by having someone walk on the floor above. If the squeak is gone, remove the shim, add construction adhesive, and reinsert the shim to make it permanent.
Be sure not to force the shims into the squeaky floor gap, as this can result in overcorrecting and possibly creating an uneven floor.
With the wood shim method, you’re merely trying to prevent the subfloor from sagging enough to create the squeak. You do this by closing the existing “gap” with the wood shim.
If you know that the squeaks are all coming from the gap between your floor joists and subfloor (above) and have access to the floor joists, you may also consider this kit from “Squeak Ender” at Amazon.
2) Use an Adhesive to Fill Larger Gaps
In some cases, you may find more significant gaps located between the joists and the subfloor that run for several feet. These kinds of gaps can cause squeaking that is impractical to fix with shims alone.
Instead, the best way to fix extra longer gaps is to apply a construction adhesive and fill the gap. Once the glue dries, it should prevent the subfloor from shifting, eliminating the creaking problem.
If you have to use this method, it’s essential to choose the right construction adhesive. Adhesives come in many different varieties. For this purpose, you should select one that specifically states it is suitable for subfloor applications.
3) Use Dry Lubricant For Wood Floors
In some cases, squeaky floors are not the result of issues with joists or subfloor underneath your finished floor but are, in fact, a problem with the finished floorboards rubbing together.
If you suspect your finished hardwood boards are rubbing against one another, the best approach is to apply a dry lubricant to the floor to fix the squeaks.
To do this, place the lubricant onto the joints where floorboards meet, then use a rag, towel, or another soft surface material to work it in. Be sure to work the lubricant into the cracks between the boards fully, as this will give you the best chance of eliminating the squeaks.
Several lubricants can be used to stop floorboards from squeaking, but one of the most popular is powdered graphite. This material makes a good lubricant and has no unpleasant odors that can linger in your home after its application.
The final step in dry lubrication is to clean the area thoroughly. When you apply a powdered lubricant, there will invariably be some extra lubricant on the floor.
Be sure to give the area an excellent vacuuming to pick up any residual powder and prevent it from getting spread or tracked into other areas of the house.
4) Add Additional Joist Support
In some cases, you may find that the creaks in your floor involve the subfloor but don’t originate as “gaps” directly on top of joists. Instead, the joist movement is from “side to side,” which is causing the squeak.
To fix these creaks, you can add additional subfloor “spacers” by installing new pieces of lumber, running perpendicular to the joists.
Most floor joists are installed between 16″ -18″ centers.
Use dimensional lumber for your spacers that are the same thickness and depth as the joists themselves (2 x 10, 2 x 12, etc..
To fix squeaks in large areas where floorboards creak, you may have to install more than one new support in between the floor joists.
5) Use Wood Screws to Fix Loose Floorboards
Another possible cause for squeaky floors is a subfloor that has come loose over time. Loose subfloors are best fixed with the use of wood screws to fasten flooring to the subflooring.
When installing these screws, be sure to counter-sink them to make sure that the head of the screw won’t present a tripping hazard. You also need to be extremely careful to be sure that the new screws won’t hit any plumbing or electrical components.
Note: You can Fasten wood floors with screws and conceal the screw, with one of these Two Options:
Option #1 – Countersink hole to receive screw head, then use matching wood putty, stain, and varnish to conceal wood screw head.
Option #2 – Use a concealed fastening system – designed for repairing wood floors, Such as the “Squeek No More” kit – from O’Berry Enterprises and available at Amazon.
Video from O’Berry Enterprises – How to Remove Squeaks From Wood Floors Using Their Squeek No More Kit: Note, this kit also includes a “carpeted floors” squeak repair tool.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Squeaky Floors
Are Squeaky Floors a Big Problem?
While they are annoying, squeaky floors won’t do any actual harm to your home. The rubbing of floorboards isn’t enough to cause structural damage, and there are no other serious problems associated with creaking floors – other than the annoying sound of creaking floors.
Why Do Floors Creak More in the Winter?
In the winter all wood materials are drier. This is due to indoor heating and the lack of humidity. Because of these conditions, wood floor materials contract – which results in the movement between floor components.
Will a Rug Help a Squeaky Floor?
In some cases, laying an area rug over a floor that’s squeaking may help to cover up the noise. With that said, the underlying problem will still exist. It’s generally better to fix whatever is allowing the boards to rub in the first place since this will permanently fix the problem instead of just covering it up.
How Do You Make a Squeaky Floor Quieter?
There are several methods you can try. Adding joist support, fixing gaps with shims in between the joists and the subfloor, screwing the subfloor or finished floor, and lubricating the finished floorboards from above, are all viable options for silencing squeaky wooden floors.
Ultimately, the right solution depends on what is causing your floor to squeak in the first place, and the access you have to the squeak, carpeted floors, finished basement ceilings, etc.
How Can I Fix Carpeted Floor Squeaks?
In many cases, wall to wall carpeted floors can develop the same kinds of squeaks as hardwood flooring over time. As with wooden floors, filling gaps between the subfloor and the joists below, adding extra joist support, or screwing down the subfloor (underneath carpeting) will help to reduce or eliminate unwanted noise.
Consider using the squeak no more tool kit, which allows you to screw the subfloor to the floor joists, without ruining your carpet.
Here’s a video from This Old House which explains how to use this Squeaky Floor Kit for Carpeted Floors:
If you only have one small squeaky spot in your carpeted floors, and the floor joists below the subfloor (basement) are not accessible (finished ceiling), you can also try using finish nails to penetrate through the carpet, pad, and secure subfloor to the joists.
Note: Finish nails can only provide secure attachment of the plywood subfloor (to eliminate squeak), by locating a floor joist – which requires the use of a stud finder. Nail the subfloor to the center of the floor joist.
Now that you know how to fix squeaky wood floors, you’ll have no trouble locating, identifying, and addressing the creaks you hear whenever you walk through your home.
Remember that not all creaks and squeaks have the same cause, so you may have to use more than one of the methods described above to fix all of the noises your wood floor creates.
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References And Additional Reading:
- Can a Squeaky Floor Break The Deal on Home Sale? – Los Angeles Times
- Why Do Floor Creak? – Citydata.com
- Best Shop Vac for Quick Home Repairs – BesthomeGear.com
- Repair squeaky floors before you List Your Home For Sale – Realtor.com
- Check Out the Best Wood Chippers To Clean Up Your Yard – BesthomeGear.com