Silencing Squeaky Floors
By Jim Sulski
Summary: Squeaking floors can drive anyone crazy. Silence a squeaky floor by learning what causes the squeak and how to fix it.
If your home is beginning to sound like a haunted house because of squeaky wood floors, there's no reason to call a ghostbuster. Instead, simply silence the squeaks.
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Squeaky floors are common in many homes but they can be easily repaired with a minimal amount of effort. Squeaks do not mean your wooden floor is in bad shape. Basically, they're an annoyance and they're found in most homes,
Floors squeak because the wood goes through seasonal changes. In the summer, it absorbs humidity and expands slightly. And in the winter when the furnace is on, the house dries out and the wood shrinks and pulls away from the nails.
In addition to nature, floor squeaks could by caused by poor flooring installation when the house was being built.
In addition to being an annoyance, floor squeaks should be repaired prior to any refinishing of the wooden floor. This will ensure uniformity to the floor finish and will prevent any blemishes when later silencing the squeaks.
WHY FLOORS SQUEAK
Floors squeak when someone walks across the floor and the loose wood pieces rub up against each other or a nail, said the experts.
The squeaks come from either the top level finished flooring (the wood floor you actually step on) or the subfloor (usually a thick piece of plywood under the finished floor) that's attached to the floor joists below.
If the squeaks seem to only be coming from a small area, it's probably a problem with the finished flooring. If the squeak comes from a larger area, it's probably being caused by movement of the subfloor. In most cases, said the experts, it's the subfloor that causes most squeaks.
Usually subfloors squeak as joists warp slightly over the years and pull away from the subfloor. This results in loose nails and this results in squeaks.
FIXING SQUEAKS FROM BELOW
The best way to silence a squeak is to attack it from the floor joists below. If the squeaky floor is on the first floor, your basement ceiling is unfinished, and the floor joists are exposed above, you're in good shape.
The first step is to locate the squeak. Hence, you'll need someone to walk on the floor above you. Particularly watch for any movement of the floor joists, which is the major cause of the squeaks.
Once you locate the squeak, the first thing to check for is if the subfloor has separated from the floor joists (or floor truss).
If it has, take a piece of hardwood - such as a one by four - and nail it to the joist so that it's tightly resting up against the subfloor. Then use some construction adhesive and fill in the gap between the subfloor and floor joist.
When the glue hardens, it will keep the floor from compressing and eliminate the squeak.
Another remedy is to fill the gap by tapping a shingle wedge under the squeaky spot. But be careful not to push the wedging in too far and accidentally raise the flooring.
If the squeak is the result of loose finished flooring, drill a hole from the subfloor below up into the finished floor. Be careful not to drill all the way through. Then use a wood screw to draw the finished flooring back down to subfloor. Make sure the wood screw you use is not longer than the subfloor and finished floor.
The screw will pull the finished floor back down against and the subfloor and eliminate the squeak.
FIXING SQUEAKS FROM ABOVE
If the squeaky floor is on the second floor or above, you will have to attack the squeak from above. And the repair will have to be made with a screw or nail.
First, you will need to remove any carpeting or other floor covering over the squeak.
Locate the squeak and find the joist closest to the squeak by tapping the floor with the handle of a hammer and trying to notice the difference in sound.
Next, you'll need a few spiral-shaped flooring nails that somewhat resemble screws. Flooring nails are available at most hardware or home improvement stores.
After drilling pilot holes into the floor to guide the nails, drive them through the finished floor, the subfloor and into the joist. Then, using a nail punch, countersink the screw or nail heads so they are below the surface of the floor.
Next, use a piece of dowel or wood caps to plug the hole. Make sure the caps are the same size as the countersink hole so that they fit snugly in the hole. And then try to match the plug to the rest of the floor with a little stain.
© by Jim Sulski. All rights reserved. June 20, 2005.
NOTE: This column is distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate,
PO Box 366, Glencoe, Illinois, 60022. This column may not be resold, reprinted,
resyndicated or redistributed without written permission from the publisher.
© 2005 by Ilyce R. Glink. Distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate.