How to fix a squeaky wooden floor

How to fix a squeaky wooden floor

A wooden floor is an asset to any home. But when a squeak develops in one or more areas the floor becomes an annoying problem. Following is a description of the most common causes of squeaks in wood floors and several ways to repair and eliminate the squeaky areas. Various levels of repair options are provided so you will be able to find one to suit your situation. These repairs can be performed on finished hardwood floors as well as carpeted wood floors.

Two pieces of wood rubbing together are the cause of squeaks on wooden floors. There are basically two conditions that cause this problem. One is the wood floor has pulled away from the subfloor underneath. Most hardwood floors are installed by nailing the wood floorboards to a plywood subfloor which rests on the joists (support beams) underneath. The subfloor can warp or the nails used to secure the floorboards to the subfloor come loose. The second cause of squeaks is a gap between the subfloor and the joists. The gaps usually occur because the subfloor has warped.

To secure the floorboards to the sub floor or eliminate any gaps you will need access to the joists and sub floor from underneath in your basement. If your basement ceiling is not finished you should be able to see the sub flooring and joists. If you have dropped ceiling tiles you may be able to remove a few of the tiles to gain access to the sub flooring and joists.

To locate the squeaks from underneath the floor in your basement have someone stand in the room above and step on the floor where it squeaks. This makes it easier to find the source from underneath by sight and sound. If the squeak is located over a joist, check for a gap between the joist and the sub floor.

To repair the gap you will need a wood shim, wood glue, and a hammer. Any thin piece of scrap wood or even a wood shingle can be used for a shim. Apply the wood glue to the shim and gently tap it into the gap above the joist. Do not force the shim into the gap too far or you may lift the subfloor. With the shim in place, the squeak will stop.

If the squeak occurs in an area not above a joist, or there are no visible gaps, then the floorboards have pulled away from the subfloor. You will not be able to actually see evidence of this, however. To repair this type of squeak you need to anchor the floorboards to the subfloor by drilling a hole and inserting a screw. Tools needed are a drill, #10 combination bit, and #10 flat head wood screws.

Drill several pilot holes around the area of the squeak. Drill through the subfloor into the wooden floor above. If you are not sure of the exact thickness of the two floors stop drilling every one-quarter inch and check the progress with a flashlight. Do not drill all the way through your wood floor above. Insert the wood screws into the pilot holes. This will secure the subfloor to the wood floor and stop the squeak.

If you do not have access to the joist and sub-flooring from your basement there are several other options for repairing the squeaks. On finished wood floors with no carpeting try dusting the cracks between the floorboards with talcum powder or applying a few drops of floor oil between the cracks. Floor oil is sold in home improvement stores in the wood floor repair/refinish section. The powder or oil can stop the squeaks when the two pieces of wood rub together. However, if the squeak is caused by a gap between the subfloor and joist this method will not work.

On either carpeted or finished wood floors you can eliminate the problem squeak by rearranging the furniture if possible. Place the leg of a heavy piece of furniture such as a couch directly on the area of the squeak. This solution works in two ways. The area will not be stepped on to cause squeaking and the weight of the furniture will press the floorboards down on the subfloor to eliminate gaps and rubbing.

Another method to try for both carpeted and non-carpeted wood floors is tapping down the floorboards all over the room. This will push the floorboards back down on the subfloor. This method can stop the squeaks especially if loose nails are causing the problem. You will need a 2 by 4 board and a hammer.

Wrap the 2 by 4 in a scrap piece of carpet or heavy towels to prevent scratching the wood floor or soiling the carpet. Place the 2 by 4 at right angles to the floorboards and tap the 2 by 4 sharply with the hammer to reseat any loose boards. Start at the perimeter of the room and work your way to the center repeating the tapping.

With the variety of methods to repair squeaky wooden floors you will find one to work for your problem. The squeaks are repairable regardless of whether you have access to underneath your floor or not from your basement. Then you can enjoy using your rooms with wooden floors without any annoying squeaks.

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