There are very few advantages of creaky floors (besides alerting you to kids being up past curfew) and often cause annoying squeaks. These maddening and irritating sounds can be common in older homes but newer homes are not exempt. They typically occur after the house has settled and the flooring lumber has dried out and shrunk. As you walk across the floor, boards rub against each other or slide against nail shafts to produce the squeaky, creaky noises you hear. Loose wooden floorboards are often the cause of annoying squeaks, but even carpeted rooms can be noisy if the plywood subfloor isn’t firmly attached to the joists. Fortunately, these squeaky floorboards can be silenced relatively quickly and inexpensively.
Repair from Below using carpenters glue
If the floor is over a basement or crawl space, go below to repair. Have someone walk across the floor so you can track them and listen to where the squeak is coming from. Once you pinpoint the exact spot, take a thin wood shim and coat it in carpenters glue. Gently tap the shim into the space between the joist and subfloor. Just make sure you don’t drive it in too far or you could raise the actual flooring. You just want to fill the gap above the joist and take out any “give” in the floor. If you feel additional support is needed, a 1 ¼ inch drywall screw can be driven at an up angle through the joist and shim into the subfloor.
This cleverly designed piece of hardware is called Squeak Ender. It has a threaded rod attached to a flat mounting plate and steel bracket fitted with a squared-off hook on the end. Installation is easy – screw the mounting plate to the underside of the subfloor with the four screws provided. Position it directly under the squeaky spot. Slide the bracket over the threaded rod and hook it onto the joist. Spin a nut onto the rod and tighten with a wrench until the subfloor is pulled down and snug against the joist.
Work from Above
When you are unable to access the floor joists from below, your only choice is to make repairs from above. The trick is to silence squeaks without damaging the finished floor. Fortunately, there are kits for this!
The Squeeeeeeek-No-More Kit can be used on carpeting laid over a wood subfloor. This kit has a screwdriver bit, pilot screw to help you locate the joists, depth-control fixture and 50 screws, specially designed to breakaway. To use this kit, first – locate the joist closest to the squeak. Stand the depth-control fixture on the carpet directly over the joist. Wrap transparent tape around one of the screws to prevent it from catching on the carpet strands, drive it through the fixture. Then remove the fixture, tip it sideways and insert the screw-head into the slot at the top of the fixture. Rock the fixture side to side until the screw-head snaps off below the surface of the subfloor.
The Couner-Snap Kit provides an effective and almost undetectable way to stop squeaks in hardwood floors. The kit has a screwdriver bit, depth-control fixture and 25 breakaway screws. Unlike the Squeeeeek-No-More system, the screw-heads automatically snap off when you drive the screw into the depth-control fixture.
- Locate source of squeak
- Start by boring a 3/32-inch-diameter pilot hole through the hardwood flooring (not necessary to hit a joist)
- Put screw through the Counter-Snap’s depth-control fixture and into the pilot hole. Drive the screw until it automatically snaps off below the surface of wood
- To conceal the screw, fill the pilot hole with wood putty. Allow to dry, lightly sand the spot. You can also use a crayon-type putty stick.
It may not be possible to silence every squeak in your home, but with the techniques described here, you can certainly cut down the chatter to an occasional chirp.
Fixing Squeaky Stairs
When it comes to figuring out how to fix your creaky 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 the noise:
- Drive flooring nails at opposing angles
- With hardwood treads, drill pilot holes for the nails, drive nails into risers and countersink the nail heads
- Fill holes with wood putty