Floor squeaks can appear after a house has settled and the lumber is dried out and has shrunk. Traditional hardwood strip flooring is the most common offender, but all types of flooring can cause a chorus. Boards rub together or slide against nail shafts, duct work, or piping as you walk across them. Loose subflooring can also create an awful sound effect.
Squeaks can be silenced in mere minutes for less than $20 if you know what you’re doing.
Drill Bit Set
Go into the basement or crawl space so you’re under the flooring. Have someone walk cross and listen for the squeak to pinpoint the spot. Have them spring up and down on the offending area so you can listen and watch for subfloor movement, loose nails, or rubbing seams. Your solution will depend on the problem.
Fill Gaps With Shims
If you see a small gap, fill it with a shim.
- When you spot the gap, coat a thin wood shim with carpenter’s glue (shims are available at any home center or lumberyard)
- Gently tap the shim into the space between the joist and subfloor, but not so far as to raise the flooring (just fill the gap)
Reinforce the Joists
If you locate wide gaps along sagging or damaged joists or see the subfloor is poorly supported, add blocking to stop movement.
- Measure the length of the subfloor gap for 2×4 blocking
- Extend the block about 1 foot on each end
- Cut away protruding nails with diagonal cutters
- Apply construction adhesive to the side and top of the blocking before installation
- Predrill screw holes for 2-1/2-inch wood screws
- Drive wood screws into the joist
Fill Gaps with Adhesive
If the gap is too irregular or wide for a shim, or you can’t pinpoint the exact source of the squeak, fill the space with glue.
- Squeeze a thick bead of construction adhesive into the crack along both sides of the squeaky joist and subfloor
- Apply glue to adjacent joist and subfloor joints as well
Block Beneath Squeaky Joints
If movement in a subfloor is causing the squeak, stop it with a block under the joint for support.
- Cut 2×8 blocking to fit snugly between joists
- Add construction adhesive to the top and slide it into place
- Drive additional nails or screws to anchor the block
Screw Hardwood Flooring From Below
If the squeak is caused by the edges of a board rubbing against another, dust them with talcum powder and work it into the cracks. It may be that easy! However, you might need to screw the subfloor to the wood flooring from below.
- Drill a 1/8-in. pilot hole about 1/2 in. less than the thickness of the entire floor
- Use screws 1/4 in. shorter than the floor thickness so it won’t penetrate the surface – (Find the floor thickness by either removing a floor register and measuring the floor where the duct comes through, or by drilling a small hole in an out-of-the-way corner and measuring with a nail)
- Mark desired drilling depth on the drill bit with masking tape
- Space screws every 6 in. in the area of the squeak
- Have someone stand on the floor above while you drive the screws
- Set heads flush with subfloor and drive No. 8 wood screws into it
The Squeak-Ender is a $7 tool that cleverly eliminates noisy floorboards as well.
The Counter-Snap Kit is an $8 aid that is used to provide a nearly undetectable way to stop the noise.
Hopefully these tips from Fred Callaghan Flooring will help you find your peace and quiet again. On the other hand, you may decide those squeaky floors are a security aid. You’ll certainly know if there’s an unwanted guest or if the teenagers are sneaking in past curfew again!