How to fix squeaky floors

Creaking and squeaky floors are nothing short of annoying. They can disturb your neighbours, wake up your children, and, depending on the creak, can mean there is hidden damage in your floors. Wood flooring is the most prone to the odd squeaky floorboard but homes with laminate flooring can also suffer.

But once you work out what is causing the problem, the solution is (usually) quick and easy and will bring peace and quiet back to your home once more.

What causes squeaks in floors?

There are a number of reasons why your floors may have started squeaking and the solutions can range from the very easy to more tricky.

The noise that you hear when you step on a floorboard is usually a result of the boards being loose or where the floorboards have too much extra movement room against the joists or nails. Floor joists are the large wooden beams beneath your subfloor which bear the weight of your suspended floorboards. They run perpendicular to the boards and are secured using nails.

If there is a gap between the top of the joist and the underside of the subfloor, or the incorrect nails have been used, the extra space for movement creates creaks and squeaks when walked on.

When dealing with floated or glued-down flooring, the creaking is likely a result of a different issue such as uneven flooring, bad underlay installation, excessive moisture, or boards that have not been acclimated properly.

The most common issues include:

● Wrong nails being used to secure the boards to the joists
● Nails coming loose or being fitted incorrectly
● A gap between the top of the floor joist and the underside of the subfloor
● An issue with the supporting joists underneath the boards

Once you work out what is causing the noise, you can identify whether the solution can be done yourself or whether you will need to call in a professional.

How to work out what’s causing the creaky floor

In order to work out what’s causing your floorboards to be squeaky, you’ll need to pinpoint the exact location of the creaking. While listening closely, have someone step on the offending spot in the floor until you can determine the exact location of the noise as well as any movement.

Once you have honed in on the right spot, you can determine what the issue might be. You’ll find it useful to have access to the space beneath the floor such as a crawl space or basement but if you don’t, you’ll need to lift the boards in order to fix the problem.

You may find that none of the above issues are causing the noise in which case the squeaks are likely due to friction. This can be solved by brushing the cracks between the boards with talcum powder or graphite powder lubricant to help reduce the amount of friction and ease the noisy board.

If you’re struggling to find the issue, or can’t work out what might be causing it, you may want to call in a professional rather than DIY it as doing so may end up making the issue worse.

How do you get rid of squeaky floors?

Once you’ve figured out what is causing your creaky floorboards, you can move onto the best way of fixing it.

1. Incorrect nails

If the wrong nails have been used to fit your flooring to the floor joist, this could mean that the nails aren’t long or strong enough to keep it secure. This therefore allows it to move around when pressure is applied. To solve this problem, you will need to remove the current nails/screws and use the correct ones to refit your floorboard. This should be quite a straightforward task and is unlikely to need a carpenter.

2. Inadequate fitting of nails

If the nails are fine but the flooring has not been correctly nailed to the joist, this will result in noise-causing movement too. Similar to the above solution, in order to fix this, you’ll need to remove the nails/screws and assess the issue – the nails might be too far apart, or they may have missed the joist or slipped out.

To solve the problem, screw-fix the board to the joist to secure it rather than introducing nails as this can cause further damage

3. Gaps between the floor and joist

Sometimes, you might find that the joists that are meant to support the board aren’t doing a particularly good job because there’s a gap between the top of the joist and the underside of the subfloor. If you have access to the space beneath the floor then this issue will be a lot easier to fix, as you won’t need to lift up your floorboards at all.

Once you’re able to get under the board to the top of the floor joist, apply a little carpenter’s glue and stick a thin wood shim to fill the gap between the joist and subfloor. Make sure that the shim is the right height otherwise it could raise the subfloor and create a bump in your flooring – not ideal. If the gap has been caused by the joist warping or shrinking, then you’ll need to install a long plank of timber alongside the affected joist at a slightly raised height so it reaches the subfloor and fills that gap, acting like a replacement for the damaged joist.

Other issues including floor joists

If you find there are more complex issues with the supporting floor joists, you will most likely need more extensive repair work done and should seek the help of a professional carpenter instead. Some examples of more serious problems include weakened floor joists (where too many holes have been drilled into it) or generally damaged joists due to issues such as damp or rot.

1. Uneven subfloor or bad underlay installation

Similarly to suspended wood floors and joists, if your subfloor is uneven it could leave gaps which create a creaking noise. This is also true when the underlay has been fitted incorrectly leaving gaps and spaces between the floor and subfloor. You might be able to solve the problem if you’re able to find a small hole in the plank directly over the gap and inject epoxy into it, however, if the gap underneath is quite large, this won’t work. Instead, you’ll need to lift up the boards, level the subfloor and lay new boards down.

2. Floor boards have not acclimated

It’s important to allow your floorboards time to adapt to the temperature and moisture content of its new environment before having it fitted. If this isn’t done correctly, your floorboards are likely to change size slightly after they have been installed which can create gaps, causing the boards to rub together when walked on and causing that annoying squeaking sound.

This is likely an issue you can’t fix yourself and the damaged flooring will need to be replaced, allowing plenty of time for your new boards to acclimate to your home environment before installing them.

3. Excessive moisture

As with the above, when wood flooring is exposed to moisture it can either expand or contract. Therefore, if an area of a room has been the victim of a leak the wood will absorb the water and become warped, resulting in gaps and noisy floorboards. Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for this and you’ll have to remove the damaged floorboards and fit new ones.

Here at Leaders Floors we have a huge range of different flooring options to help make your home complete. If you need help with how to repair floorboards we’ve got you covered and for installing new floors check out our range of floor installation tools to help you on your way. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or want to replace the flooring in your home, our range of laminate flooring is here to help with its easy click-and-go construction. Enjoy beautiful floors every day with Leaders Floors.

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