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How to fix squeaky floorboards
by
Checkatrade

If you’re sick of hearing your floor creak when you walk around your house, it’s time to learn how to fix squeaky floorboards. Save your ears, sanity and floors with our step-by-step guide. Or, better yet, save yourself the hassle and hire a professional to get the job done in a few hours.

Check out our cost guide for replacing joists and floorboards for some helpful information. Otherwise, read on if you’re committed to doing the job yourself.

Common types of squeaky floors

how to fix squeaky floorboardsWe admire your tenacity. However, before we get started, let’s take a look at the types of floors most prone to groans, moans, creaks and squeaks and potential remedies.

Board-to-board

Also known as ‘deflection,’ these squeaks are localised and usually caused by the ends or sides of boards rubbing together. Excess moisture, improper subfloor preparation and/or poor installation contribute to the creaks. These boards might also move when you stand on them.

Potential remedies include:

  • Board replacement
  • Nailing or screwing the board more securely
  • Talcum powder applied with a proper applicator
  • WD 40
  • Squeak No More kit

Subfloor

These squeaks happen between the wood and subfloor beneath. You’ll know if you stand on a board and there’s movement in an entire section of the floor. The squeak covers a wider area and happens because of improper joist spacing, a weak subfloor, incorrect materials, and/or badly placed nails (too many or not enough).

Potential remedies include:

  • Squeak No More kit
  • Shim placements
  • Screws through the flooring, subfloor and to the joist

Glue to concrete

How to fix a squeaky subfloorSome floorboards are glued to concrete slabs. When that’s the case, hollow spots between the flooring and slab makes them creak. When concrete isn’t levelled properly, too little adhesive was used or the spread was uneven, this also results in squeaking.

Potential remedies include:

  • Filling in the hollows with glue
  • Board replacement
  • Adhesive repair kits

Environmental

Wood expands into hotter weather and contracts in colder weather, which can result in board movement and creaks.

Potential remedies include:

  • Keeping the humidity levels in your house between 35% and 55%.

Hire your local flooring expert today

Tools you’ll need to fix squeaky floorboards

Hammer locating joist under squeaky floorboardOnce you’ve identified the squeak you’re dealing with, it’s time to get to work.

Here are some potential tools you’ll need to fix your squeaky floors:

  • Squeak No More floor repair kit
  • Extra screws
  • Drill
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Stud finder
  • Glue
  • Torch

How to fix squeaky floorboards

Step One: Locate the squeak

In order to treat the squeak, you need to find the source and identify whether it’s caused by board-to-board, subfloor, glue or environmental issues (see above). Simply walk over the area of the floor that squeaks and mark it with chalk or string.

Step Two: Find the joist

If you have access to the space beneath your floor, fixing the squeak is a lot easier. If not, skip to our ‘how to stop squeaky floorboards under carpet’ section below.

Once you’ve found the joist, it’s a matter of working out the best fix. Shine the torchlight to see if there’s a gap between the top floor joist and underside of the subfloor. Any gap means trouble, even a small one.

Step Three: Insert a shim into the gap

Using a thin piece of wood like a ‘wedge,’ spread on some carpenter’s glue and push it into the gap. Don’t force it or hammer it in, as this can ‘lift’ the above boards and make the squeak worse. The trick is to push it far enough inside the void that it stops the floorboard moving and making a sound. Once you’ve done that, trim the shim with a knife and enjoy your soundless floor!

Step Four: Fill longer gaps with adhesive

Shims are great for silencing specific gaps in isolated spots. However, if there’s a longer gap alone the length of the floor joist, you’ll need to fill it with a strong set construction adhesive. For greater ease and precision, buy one with a caulking gun and direct it into the space between the underside of the subfloor and the top of the joist.

Step Five: Fix warped joist with extra boards

When a joist degrades, a space can open up between it and the subfloor, making it move up and down and rub on the nail or screw. To fix this, install a long and sturdy piece of wood along the problem joist to reinforce it. Press it flat against the joist and push it up to the subfloor. Hammer the bottom edge to make sure it’s tight to the subfloor and then screw it in with drywall screws (make sure they’re not more than 8 inches apart).

Step Six: Strengthen with short screws

Some squeaks are caused by the floorboards rubbing or ‘chaffing’ against the plywood subfloor. An easy way to eliminate this is to drive short screws through the underside of the floor. Just be careful to make sure the screws don’t poke through the top floorboard.

Step Seven: Lubricate the floors

If you don’t have access to the underside of your floors, then lubricating them might be your only option. One great fix is talcum powder, which you can find in most pharmacies. Just squeeze it into the cracks between floorboards and walk up and down them to distribute the lubricant. If the creaks don’t desist, try a dry silicone treatment, which you spray through the cracks in the same way. However, be warned. It gets messy!

Hire your local flooring expert today

How to fix squeaky floorboards under carpet

Step One: Identify the floorboard

How to fix squeaky floorboards under carperIn order to treat the squeak, you need to find the source and identify whether it’s caused by board-to-board, subfloor, glue or environmental issues (see above). Simply walk over the area of the floor that squeaks and mark it with chalk or string.

Step Two: Find the joist

We recommend using a stud finder, taking a hammer and tapping the carpet to listen for the difference in sound, or using the tool found in your Squeak No More kit. There’s a special sc

Step Three: Use a floor repair kit

If you’ve purchased the Squeak No More kit, then here’s what you do next.

  • Put the tripod on the recently identified joist
  • Load up your drill with the square driver bit
  • Position your drill and the loaded bit into the tripod
  • Drill the screw through the carpet into the joist
  • Stop drilling when you hear your drill rumble
  • Put the tripod on its side
  • Slip the screw gripper over the screw head
  • Rock the tripod left to right  until it snaps off the screw head at the score mark (don’t worry, it’s below the wood subfloor and carpet)
  • Give yourself a pat on the back!

If this all sounds too much like hard work, then why not hire a professional? Our experts are on hand to help your house become creak-free!

Summary of steps

  • Identify what type of squeak you’re dealing with
  • Purchase the tools required for the job
  • Locate the joist
  • Carry out the repair
  • Hire a professional for more complex jobs

Like what you see? There’s plenty more where this came from. Discover more ideas, inspiration, tips and how-tos via Checkatrade’s blog.

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