How to Fix Squeaky Hardwood Floors (From Above & Below)
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If you live in an older house, you'll probably come across the problem of a squeaky floor.
Sure, vintage houses are unique and, in a way, charming, but problems like this make it difficult to enjoy the time you spend in them. You don't want to feel like you're living in a haunted house.
My friend used to put up with her squeaky floors for years just because she had no idea that it's incredibly easy to solve this and that she can do it all on her own.
She thought that she would need to hire a professional and spend tons of money just because she was not well informed.
Luckily, I am here to show you how to fix your squeaky hardwood floor and let you know that it's rather easy.
In fact, there is a number of different ways to fix your floors and you don't even have to be a professional to do it.
You won't need to spend a lot of money and time - the entire fixing process usually doesn't last longer than ten minutes.
Why are your floors squeaky?
If you have this problem, there is a high possibility that your house has suspended ground floors.
Suspended ground floors are usually constructed in the same way. There are joists under the floorboards and their purpose is to hold the floorboards and handle their weight.
However, as time goes by there is a stronger possibility of gaps forming between joists and floorboards. This is exactly the source of this annoying noise.
Another possibility is that the joists are not the source of the problem. The floorboards could be rubbing up against one another and this could be what causes the squeaking.
quick fix for squeaky hardwood floors
There are many different ways to fix squeaky floors depending on the noise source.
You can fix them from below if you have a basement or a crawlspace under your house or you can fix them from above.
Both options are equally effective and will have great results. It is up to you to choose which solution works best for you.
1. Below-ground fixing
If you decide to fix your floors from below, you need to have access to the room or crawlspace under the floors.
Before you start working, make sure that you have everything you need. The material is available in most of the hardware stores and very inexpensive. This is what you'll need:
- Someone to help
- Wood shims
- Construction adhesive
First of all, you need to make sure that the space you'll work in is completely safe.
This is particularly important when it comes to crawlspaces which can have extremely unsafe conditions, especially if you never go down there.
Check if there are any rodents, snakes or insects. I know this might sound a bit scary, but if you bring a flashlight and wear proper clothing, it will all end well.
You also need to check if there is any asbestos, which is very toxic for your lungs and if there are any chemical odors or excessive dirt.
Now that you've secured the space, you have to get someone to help you figure out exactly where the squeaking is coming from.
Your helper should walk around the house, while you stay in the basement and wait for the floor to squeak so that you can mark the specific parts of the floor that need fixing.
You have to find the joist that is the closest to the floorboard that produced the noise you will most certainly see a gap there. All you have to do now is get a thin shim and carefully place it into the gap.
Make sure to remember not to push too hard, because this can produce an even bigger gap and we don't want that to happen.
Still, some complications can come up. What are you supposed to do if your gap is too small or too long? What happens if you keep trying but cannot figure out where the noise is coming from?
This is where construction adhesive can come to your aid. You should simply apply adhesive along the entire length of the joist and wait for it to dry. The drying can last for up to a week so remain patient.
2. Above-ground fixing
If you don’t have any access to the space under the floor so you decide to fix your floor from above, there is a way to do this as well, but it may be a bit more complicated.
You can get the material in almost any local hardware store. You will need:
- Squeak No More screw kit
- Wood filler
First of all, you need to locate the squeak.
Please make sure that you've found the exact floorboard that the noise is coming from because you will need to drive screws into your floor and you don't want to do that in the wrong place.
Dual-pitch screws are a very good solution for squeaky floors. They are specifically made to hold the joist and the floor together. These 'Squeak No More' screws are our absolute choice.
You have to drive the screws into the joists through the floor.
Don't drive them too deep into the floor, because you will need to snap them at their seams and there has to be a part of the screw above the floor if you want to do this.
A small hole will remain, but it's nothing that cannot be fixed with a little bit of wood filler. Of course, the wood filler needs to be the exact same color as the floor.
There is another kind of nails useful for this situation - steel brads. They are specifically constructed to be used for wood flooring and the damage when you drive them into the floor is minimal.
The procedure is the same as it is with the dual-pitch screws. What you need to do is find the source of the noise and then drive the nail into the joint and hammer it until the top of the nail stays above.
Then you have to snap it at the seam and once again a hole will remain in the floor. Fill it with wood filler and your job is done.
3. Fixing the floorboards
But what if the problem is in the fact that your floorboards are rubbing against one another and this is the cause of squeaking?
Luckily for you, this is probably one of the best situations you can find yourself in when it comes to squeaky floors because it's incredibly easy to fix.
First of all, in order to figure out if your floorboards are rubbing against each other, you need to find where the joists are. There are usually some nails on the floor that mark the joists.
If this doesn't help you, you can simply use a hammer. Just lightly tap the hammer on the floor and keep doing that until you hear a dull sound. This means that you've found the joist.
Now you need to walk along the joists. If your floor is squeaking while you're walking directly over the joists, you'll know that the floorboards are the problem.
For this project, you will only need a few minutes of your time and some baby powder. You can also use talcum powder, powdered soapstone or powdered graphite.
Any of these work perfectly, I just like to use baby powder because it's very cheap and non-invasive.
Put a bit of baby powder (or any other powder of your choice) between the boards and your problem is solved.
There is also the possibility of spraying WD-40 on your floorboards. The WD-40 spray is known to be able to fix just about anything and squeaky floors are not an exception.
You can check out how it's done in this YouTube tutorial. Also, if this is the option that you've chosen, make sure that there isn't a fire source in the same room.
This spray is extremely flammable and even though I doubt that you'll play with fire on your floor, it's good to stay cautious and safe.
What happens if none of this works?
If you've tried everything that I've provided you with and your floorboards are still squeaking, then you might have a more serious problem that requires the help of a professional.
It is likely that your joists are defective and this is not something that you should fix by yourself. This usually happens if your house is very old or its construction is not of a very high quality.
Still, don't worry, joists are constructed to be strong and to last for a very long time, so once they're fixed, this same problem will probably not appear again.
Final Word: How to Fix Squeaky Hardwood Floors
All in all, squeaky floors can now become a problem that you won't have to be bothered with any longer. You just need a minimal amount of both money and time and you can solve this quite easily.
Whether you choose to deal with your problem from below or above the floor, you will be amazed at how effective the results will be.
I wish you the best of luck in your project and hope that you will find my advice helpful.