Have you ever walked through the house late at night, hoping to sneak a spoonful of ice cream or make a plate of leftovers without anyone the wiser, only step on a squeaky floorboard? Squeaks and creeks in hardwood floors are commonplace. Unfortunately, they are an annoyance as well. Regardless of whether or not your hardwood floors are covered with carpeting or you have exposed hardwood floors, there are options available for fixing a squeaky hardwood floor.
It’s important to understand the reason for the squeak before making the decision to fix it. A squeaky hardwood floor is usually caused by floorboards becoming loose. The loose floorboards will either rub together and make the squeaking noise or rub against the subfloor. Loose floor boards that can be felt beneath one’s feet is a floor that is bad disrepair and should be repaired immediately.
Options for Fixing a Squeaky Floor
There are two main options for fixing squeaky floorboards depending on the severity of the squeak and the ability to get to the source of the squeakiness. Getting at the floorboards can be more difficult than it seems and should require patience and proper planning.
One quick fix for squeaky floors that will extend the time between needing a more permanent fix is to apply a lubricant between the subfloor and floorboards, or whatever may be causing the squeak. Powdered graphite or talcum powder both are excellent options for lubricating squeaky floorboards.
Sprinkle the powder over the squeaky floorboards. To help the lubricant seep into the floorboards, reactivate the squeaks by walking over the floorboards. You will likely need to repeat the process until the squeaking has subsided. Keep in mind that using a lubricant to quiet a squeaky hardwood floor may not be a permanent fix; you may need to do future applications of lubricant, or you can work at ending squeaky floorboards for good.
Nails that have become loose or not having enough nails in a board are other possible reasons for squeaky hardwood floors. If you have access to the subfloor, such as through a basement or crawl space, then you can check for missing nails or nails that were not hammered in properly to see if this could be the root of your problem. You can then clip them with diagonal cutters or properly drive new nails into the floor joists so the floorboards no longer rub against each other.
However, this may not be the fix you need. Once again, if you have access to the subfloor and can visibly see the floorboards, have someone walk across the squeaky area of the floor so that you can see exactly what is causing the squeak. Shims can be hammered into place in order to resolve gaps between the floor boards and subfloor.
Other possible reasons for a squeaky hardwood floor may have to do with poor support or insufficient bridging. In both cases, it may be necessary to insert additional bridging supports or nail blocks to provide added support and fix any sagging from the subfloor or floorboards. You’ll need to measure the exact spacing you’ll need for the bridge support as well as the nail blocks.
When you’re driving nails or screws in from the subfloor, you want the screw or nail to reach the main floorboard – but not to go all the way through and poke out the top. Be careful to choose screws and nails that aren’t too long. Square-drive screws or drywall screws are appropriate screws that will reach the surface floor but not go through the surface.
Of course, being able to work from the subfloor up has its advantages, but if you aren’t able to get to the subfloor, as in the case of finished ceiling, or if your hardwood floor is covered over with carpeting, it may be necessary to peel back the carpet and work from the top and countersink screws and nails into the boards. It can be tricky to get the screws or nails in at the correct angle; measure carefully to ensure you’re at the right angle to meet the wood joists. If you’re unsure about driving nails or screws in from the top of the hardwood floor, carpenter’s glue and a putty knife is also an acceptable solution. Squirt carpenter’s glue in between floor boards and work it in with a putty knife. Place a weight over the area you applied glue to and let it dry. It may be necessary to add additional glue after drying to ensure a proper filling.
While some of these options may rid you of a squeaky floor, there is the possibility that new squeaks will arise or the fixes you put into place do not fully quiet the hardwood floor. As floors age and the wood dries out, some squeaks will be unavoidable.