How to silence a squeaky floor Lifestyles

How to silence a squeaky floor Lifestyles

How to silence a squeaky floor

Q • I live in a home that is about 12 years old. Recently, I’ve noticed that my floors are squeaking in several areas. Is there an easy way to stop the squeaks?

While a small squeak may give your home character, it can also prove to be annoying. The squeaks can come from several places including floorboards moving against each other, a loose board, bridging pieces rubbing against each other below the floor or air ducts or water pipes rubbing against floor joists. Over time, wood dries out and shrinks, creating small gaps between the boards. Eliminate the gap and you stop the squeak.

In most cases we can eliminate the squeak with a few shims, carpenter’s glue, ring shank nails or small screws, a dry lubricant and someone to help locate the source of the squeak. The trick is gaining access to the squeak.

Whenever possible, it is best to fix the squeaks from underneath the floor. Of course, this means being able to get to the underside of the floor. It is really helpful to have another person stand on the floor above you to pinpoint the location of the squeak.

Many squeaks are the result of a floor joist that is not tight against the subfloor. Driving a shim, dipped in carpenter’s glue may eliminate the squeak. Be careful to only drive the shim far enough to fill the gap. Driving the shim in too far could actually raise the subfloor and make the squeak worse.

When you see the boards above the joists moving, it is more effective to install a cleat than to shim individual boards. Wedge a length of 1×4 against the subfloor and screw or nail it to the joist and the subfloor above.

If the squeaks are over a large area, this could indicate that the floor joists have shifted. You can use steel bridging available at any hardware store or a length of 2×6 nailed between the joists to reinforce the joists.

On hardwood floors in which the squeak is caused by a board that has risen, you can drive a wood screw from under the subfloor to the underside of the finished floor. Simply have your helper stand upon the raised board while you drill a pilot hole through the subfloor and into the bottom of your finished floor. Then use a wood screw or deck screw to pull the raised board down.

How to silence a squeaky floor Lifestyles

Sometimes, however, you can’t get to the underside of your floor. Say, for instance the squeaks are on the second floor or you have a finished basement. Then you are limited by your ability to access the squeak.

If you’re working in a carpeted area, the best solution is to roll back the carpet to gain access directly to the subfloor. Use a stud finder to locate the joists and drive your nails directly into the joists. If you can’t remove the carpet, you can drive a shanked nail directly through the carpet and pad and into the joist. This works best when the carpet is long pile.

Many times the squeaks in a hardwood floor are caused by two boards rubbing against each other. A simple trick is to apply a dry lubricant such as powdered graphite or talcum powder to the seams between the boards. Rub the lubricant into the seams with a dry cloth and wipe away the excess to stop the leak. If they still squeak and you can’t get access from underneath, you can surface nail a 6d flooring nail directly into the joist. Predrill a hole slightly smaller than the nail shank to keep the floor board from splitting. Make certain that your nail is at least a half-inch from the edge of the board and that you are able to strike the floor joist. Sink the head of the nail slightly below the board surface and patch the hole with wood filler matched to your floor’s color.

Dave Foster is the store manager for the Home Depot in Brentwood

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