Have you been dealing with noisy floorboards in your upstairs recently?
I understand I have been in the same situation many times, and I know how annoying and embarrassing squeaky floorboards can be. But you should not be.
No matter what, there are some simple DIY solutions that can help eliminate those irritating noises.
In this blog post, I will discuss different ways to fix squeaky floorboards. Along with what products you can use, what methods should you use to repair those creaking boards depending on your specific conditions?
But before we get into them, let’s get into what causes your floorboards to squeak in the first place.
Why Do Floorboards Creak?
Well, there can be different reasons for this problem. The most common is that the boards have become loose from where they are placed.
If you happen to live in a home built between 1900 and 1950, they might have suspended ground floors customarily made from timber floorboards.
These suspended timber floors are usually found in older homes where they are attached to the joists just above the slab of concrete stone or the foundation of a house.
Unlike ground-bearing concrete floors, which rarely squeak, the joists and the suspended floorboards are not tightly fitted together.
As time goes by, the gaps are formed; they become even looser and start to make that irritating noise every time you step on them.
The other reason for creaking floorboards now and then can be something as small as a pebble or a coin that has fallen in between the gaps and is now stuck.
The third reason why your floorboards turn squeaky and make that annoying noise is simply that they might be rubbing up against one another.
Depending on the reason, you might work above-ground or below (to a basement or crawlspace) to fix the problem.
Fixing Loose, Squeaking Floorboards
First of all, if your floorboards are squeaking, there’s no need to panic.
Unless there are no signs of structural damage or termites creating problems that can cause the collapse, you need not worry about any dangerous things happening.
To stop your floor from squeaking, you first need to calmly identify the source and whether the sound coming from the floorboards is too harsh to be ignored or is something that can be let go.
Method 1 – Greasing the Rubbing Floors
If the problem is minor due to the loose boards rubbing and there’s not much disturbance, you are in luck.
Sometimes it needs a bit of lubrication to fix the issues.
But before you start to grease up your floorboards, point out the source of the sound by simply walking around the room and listening carefully to where the noise is the loudest.
Once you have found that spot, it’s time to look and see what’s happening.
If the boards have become loose from their place, you can see it and fix the issue above ground by dusting a bit of baby powder or your regular talc powder.
You can even use something which is known as graphite lubricant or even your regular olive oil, petroleum jelly, paraffin wax, or WD-40 spray.
This should be applied between the boards to stop friction, wear, and corrosion.
At the least, you can sometimes fix the issue simply by opening up the gaps between the hardwood flooring by running a thin blade of a utility knife between the planks.
When done carefully, this will separate the boards and/or reduce friction.
Apply very light pressure when using a knife blade to avoid marking, scratching, or damaging the flooring. The best is to use several light strokes instead of one hard one.
Method 2 – Repairing Squeaky Floors with Screws
For this method, you will need something to tighten the boards and fill the gaps in between the boards, so they don’t rub anymore.
The first step here is to secure the boards back in their place. You can do that by using a screw and washer or a flooring cleat.
Once that is done, you need to fill the gaps between the boards so they don’t rub against each other. For that, you can use a few different things adhesive, caulk, or a filler.
Construction adhesive can be applied to the gaps using a putty knife and then smoothened out.
Alternatively, you can use a wood filler or a silicone caulk. These work in the same way as construction adhesives but are a little bit more challenging to apply.
Once you have applied the adhesive, caulk, or filler, you must give it time to dry completely. Once dry, your floors should be squeak-free.
Method 3 – Repairing Squeaky Floors Underneath
If your floors are squeaking from the middle of the room and you can’t find the noise source from the top, this will be the method you will need to follow.
But, to be frank, it’s a little more complicated as it involves going below the floor from your basement or crawlspace.
Start by finding the joists on your floor. The floor joists are the large wooden beams that support your floorboards.
They usually run vertically opposite to the boarding, and if you have wood floors, the nails on your floor can usually tell you where they are.
You can find them using a hammer if the floor is covered by carpet or vinyl – just tap around on the floorboards until you hear a dull smashing sound.
Once you have found them, you can try running screws from underneath that will tie up the loose, squeaky floorboards together.
These boards will usually be plywood and solid timber that runs from 3/4 inch to 5/8 inch thick.
So, to fix the squeak, you will want to get the screws that can go about an inch past the plywood board into the joist or underlying layer beneath it.
This means screws about 1 3/4 inches will do the trick for a subfloor 3/4 of an inch thick.
And for a 5/8 of an inch thick plywood subfloor, you will need the screws that are about 1 5/8 inches long.
TIP: Since this method can be tricky to implement and you may need additional help from a friend or family member, it can be a good idea to take some pictures before you start so you can remember how everything was supposed to go back together.
Alternatively, it’s a good idea to get the help of an expert flooring professional or a skilled carpenter who can quickly identify the problem’s source and fix it for you.
How Much Does it Cost to Fix Squeaky Floors?
Depending on the cause, the time it takes, and the materials and tools used in the process, the average cost for fixing a squeaky floor can range between $250 and $1,200.
But this will be comparatively much less than the cost of putting up a new floor which can start from $2,000 and be as high as $5,000 depending on the area and the type of wood used.
The cost will also depend on whether you are doing the repairs yourself or hiring a professional to stop some major issues that are causing creaking floors.
If you need to get professional help, make sure you get an estimate beforehand.
Can You Shim and Screw Below the Squeaky Subfloor?
If they get separated from floor joists, Creaky floors under a wall can be fixed using wedge shims.
You can use clawhammer to tap the wedge shims so they get into place between the joist and the subfloor.
Do not pound the shims to avoid raising the floorboards, which might cause more squeaking.
What Type of Screws Do You Put On the Floor to Stop Squeaking?
Subfloor screws and galvanized or steel fasteners will perform best in plywood floorboards, roofing sheets, and even wall plates.
Make sure you pick the right brand compatible with the tools you will be using to avoid stripping and rusting.
Some of the best screws for subfloors are manufactured by Senco, Simpson Strong-Tie, and the Hillman Group. You will not go wrong with any of these brands.
Fixing squeaky floors can be daunting. And if you leave them as it is, it’s even more frustrating.
Fortunately, if the problem is minor, you might be able to get away yourself with a quick fix from the top. But if the problem is severe, you might need to take a look from underneath and use one of the methods described above.
In case you are completely unsure about how to proceed or don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, it’s always a good idea to get the help of a professional flooring contractor who can quickly identify the source of the problem and fix it for you.
This will save you time, money, and a lot of frustration in the long run.
Hi, I am Mark Garner a professional carpenter, woodworker, and DIY painter. I live in the small city of Peoria, Arizona as a semi-retired woodworker. I have started this blog with a simple motive to help you with my wood experience in this sector. If you like to know more about what I love doing and how it all got started, you can check more about me here.