Stop tip-toeing around your home, carefully to miss that squeaky floor board and learn how to fix the squeaking floors once and for all. Changes in humidity, season, and age are just a few of the reasons that floor boards can start to make noise over time. Natural expansion and contraction can case the sounds, as can the subfloor become loose from the joists.
In newer homes, securing the subfloor with a nail gun instead of screws could be to blame for the excess noise. Fortunately, you don’t have to settle for the thought of avoiding that spot on the floor every time you walk by. Before you can set to work fixing the floor, you must first establish the type of sound the floor is making to help determine how to fix the squeaky floor.
Two Approaches to Fixing Squeaky Floors
When it comes to fixing those noisy floor boards there are two main approaches, fixing the floor from the top or from below.
How to Fix Squeaky Floors from Below
If you have a first-floor squeak and you can access the subfloor and joists from the basement, consider fixing the squeak from below. While under the floor, have a friend or family member walk on the floor above. As they walk, try to pinpoint the area that is squeaking. When a gap between the subfloor and joist is the culprit, use a shim to fill in the space and the noise should stop.
If wood floors are installed above the subfloor, try using a very short screw to secure the subfloor to the wood flooring from the under-side. Make sure the screw is barely longer that the width of the subfloor to ensure it does not poke through the finished side of the wood floor boards.
How to Fix Squeaky Floors from the Top
When the underneath of the floor is not accessible, fixing squeaky floors from the top is the next best option. The strategy for doing so varies based on what type of flooring is installed.
- Under Wood: Many homes feature hardwood flooring because of the natural beauty and sophistication of the material, especially homes with a little heritage.Using a slim finishing nail, Secure the loose floor board to the subfloor by driving the finishing nail through the board at a joint at a 45-degree angle. Driving it in at a joint will help the finishing nail to nestle into place and reduce visibility. Drive a second nail in at a 45-degree angle in the opposite direction to help prevent the nail from pulling out at a later time. Learning how to fix a squeaky hardwood floor will help extend the life of the flooring.
- Under Carpet: A squeak under carpet is a pretty clear indication of a loose subfloor. Test the floor for the space where the squeak occurs. Using a sharp utility knife, cut a small slit through the carpet webbing, wide enough to allow for a screw head. Drive a screw through the subfloor into the joist below and make sure to pull the carpet webbing over the screw head.
- Under Tile: When a subfloor is squeaking under tile, there are really only two options. You can fix the subfloor from below or pull up a tile or a few to fix the squeak from above. Pulling up tiles is a difficult and risky option that could result in damage to surrounding tiles. If you have experience installing tiles, this can be done as a DIY project but if you do not have tile installation experience, calling in a professional is recommended.
- Under Laminate: In most cases, an uneven subfloor is to blame for squeaks that occur under a laminate flooring installation. Laminate flooring is intended to float over a subfloor and should not be fixed to the subfloor with nails or screws. Sometimes, laminate flooring installed too tightly can cause noise when you walk. Remove the trim around the perimeter of the room and check to see if there is still more space available. If so, gently work the boards squeaking apart ever so slightly to allow more space for movement as you walk. That, in itself, may fix the sound.
If that doesn’t fix the sound, the underlayment may be the cause. A quality locking laminate can be easy to unlock and lock back into place. If so, remove the planks up to the spot making noise and re-secure the subfloor. Put the lifted planks back into place and the sound should be rectified. With both solutions, replacing the covering around the perimeter is the final step in the process.
No matter what type of flooring you have in your home, floor squeaks can be a thing of the past. With a few relatively easy fixes, you can make sure the subfloor is secure and boards no longer creak. Keep your newly secured floors protected in high-traffic areas by laying out area rugs in living areas and entry areas.