Squeaky Hardwood Floors How to Stop Hardwood Floors from Squeaking The Money Pit

How to Stop Hardwood Floors from Squeaking


LESLIE: Maybe youve got a flooring question on your mind like our friend Rick in Atlanta has.

Rick, whats going on?

RICK: When you walk down the halls and into the bedrooms on my hardwood floors, it squeaks enough to wake you up at night.

TOM: (chuckles) OK.

RICK: And theyre 3-inch slats and I know I could take and screw down each individual board and stop it but thats not a good idea. Its going to make it look terrible. And Im looking for maybe a suggestion on an alternate solution to stop my floors from squeaking .

TOM: The basements completely finished?

RICK: Correct. Its got sheetrock ceiling. Id have to rip out the ceiling to get to the floor.

TOM: OK. How old is your house?

RICK: Thirty-six years old.

TOM: So the hardwood floor is not prefinished? It was installed originally as raw hardwood and then finished in place?

RICK: Correct.


RICK: And I have been told that one of the problems Ive got is they didnt put a barrier between the subfloor and the hardwood.

TOM: That actually could contribute to it. Usually you saw rosin paper or something like that. But it all comes down to looseness of floorboards. Now you could screw the floorboards down and that is the best way to do that. And by the way, I dont know if you realize this but theres a way to do that with oak plugs where it becomes invisible. Are you familiar with that?

RICK: Yes, Ive done a few of the plugs. But Im talking about a 30-something-foot hallway and two big bedrooms and youre talking about a lot of screws and a lot

LESLIE: Yeah, but do you have to screw down every, single plank?

TOM: Yeah. I dont think that you do. I think what you want to do is find the loudest areas and you probably are going to want to do a combination of screwing down some of those boards and to do this, of course, what you need to do is you need to identify where the floor joist is underneath and you can do that with one of the high-tech stud sensors thats out there today. Black&Decker has one, Zircon has one. They all have deep scanning capabilities where theyll actually go an inch or two into the floor. Locate that floor joist because youve got to hit that correctly.

And then what you want to do is you can use a drill bit that actually will put the pilot hole for the screw, the clearance hole for the shank of the screw and counter-bore it, leaving about a 3/8-inch, perfectly-shaped hole up top into which you can insert an oak plug. And when I say oak plugs, Im not talking about the buttons like you used to see on the old furniture where it sticks up. Im talking about

LESLIE: No, no. These are tapered. Theyll go flush to the floor.

TOM: Right. Flush to the floor. Usually you leave them sticking out a little bit and then you chisel them til theyre perfectly flat. And when you do that, it becomes almost invisible. Trust me. I used to build oak (inaudible) and oak floors and I made plenty of mistakes that needed to be fixed and I was pretty good at fixing it with these plugs and you really couldnt see. So I think using a combination of that.

And the other thing that you can do is you can simply nail down some of these loose boards using a #10 or a #12 finish nail. And I prefer, when Im trying to fix a squeaky floor, to use one, Rick, that is rough galvanized it has the rough-coated, galvanized surface because it has more friction to it. And again, you need to find the floor joist and you want to drill a pilot hole thats just a little bit smaller than the nail and you want to drill that hole at a slight angle. You dont want to put it straight in. When you put the nail in at an angle, it will have better holding power. And you countersink it below the wood surface.

And heres one more trick. When you set that below the wood surface, you want to use one of the wax sticks I found are very good for this. Minwax has a set of wax fill pencils that you can actually Ive taken a lighter and heated the tip a little bit to soften it up where you can actually push the wax into the hole and it really becomes almost invisible with the floor. You choose one thats closest in color to the floor. And even if you have one that you cant get exactly right, you go one shade above and one shade below and mix the wax together just by dripping it over that little nail hole youre trying to fill. And Im telling you, its going to be a lot more work than if you had a full basement or could access it from below but thats probably your best option; to use a combination of renailing it with hot-dipped, galvanized finish nails and then screwing it every so many feet, maybe every foot or two, down along one of the floor joists. Thats going to be the best thing to do to try to quiet that floor at this point.

RICK: Well, thats a lot better idea than I had, so I sincerely appreciate the input. And yall have got a great show and I enjoy listening to you.

TOM: Thank you very much, Rich. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

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