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Flooring

Squeaky Wood Floors

The first fix to try for a squeaky floorboard is to locate the squeak and dust it, including any seams, liberally with baby powder (talc) or powdered graphite. If that doesn’t offer relief, apply a sparing amount of mineral oil to the surrounding gaps and cracks. Often one of these remedies is enough to silence a cranky board. If, however, the squeak is caused by the subfloor pulling away from a joist or a warped piece of wood, you’ll need to re-anchor or support the loose section to cure the squeak.

Fixing Squeaks From Underneath

If you have visible joists beneath your floor, discovering the location of the squeak is simple. Have someone walk back and forth across the floor while you inspect the joists from below, looking for movement indicating a joist’s loosening from the subfloor above it.

 

Materials
· Small wood shims
· A hammer
· Wood screws
· A 1x4 or 1x6 wood "cleat"

What follows are three different ways to fix the squeak from the underside of the floor. Select the one that best suits your situation, and remember to wear protective goggles to keep splinters and debris out of your eyes:

Option 1:
If there is play between the floor and subfloor, or the subfloor and the joist, this may be your best solution. Carefully tap a shim between the joist and the subfloor until it feels snug. Don’t force the shim or you may widen the gap.

Option 2:
If you think that the cause may be warped floorboards, this choice may work for you. From the underside, drill some pilot holes that will snugly accommodate one or two round-head wood screws. Make sure the screws are about ¼ inch shorter than all the layers of your floor, or they’ll pierce through the top. Mount a fender washer on the screw and install, making sure that the screws are tight, but not so tight that they strip the wood.

Option 3:
Perhaps the most challenging but highly effective, this option requires that you install a 1x4 or 1x6 cleat against the joist supporting the squeaky subfloor. The cleat acts as reinforcement for the loose or overworked joist, giving the subfloor above greater support. The trick is to have a prop board that will hold the cleat firmly against the subfloor while you work. Then tap the cleat into position between the prop and the subfloor until it is snug against the joist and nail it directly into the joist. If there is evidence that the joist may crack, first drill pilot holes and then install screws.

Fixing Squeaks at Floor Level

If your joists are sealed off, your best guess of locations is to walk across the floor, being mindful of any play in the wood. Once you think you have the squeak isolated, mark its location with a piece of masking tape.

Materials
· A piece of 2x4, covered with a thick piece of cloth or carpet fragment
· A hammer
· Glazier’s points (small triangular wedges available at home improvement centers)
· A flat-ended metal putty knife

You may also need:
· An electric drill
· Annular-ring nails
· A nail sink

Listed are three different options for fixing a squeaky board right at the source.

Option 1:
First remove any baseboards (see instruction 1 under Replacing Wood Veneer Paneling). Use a sharp utility or flooring knife to cut the old flooring into strips roughly a foot wide and pull them up by hand. Areas that have been heavily glued will need to be cut into smaller sections and may require scraping with a putty or wallboard knife. You can loosen stubborn adhesive by misting the glued areas with your water/dish soap solution as you scrape. Be careful throughout to protect the subfloor from dings and gouges, or your newly laid floor will be more likely to have bubbles, depressions and failed adhesive.

Option 2:
Use a floor scraper to dislodge remaining fragments of flooring and adhesive. Sweep thoroughly. Then finish using a wet/dry shop vac to vacuum up all minute debris. If any glue remains, soften with soap/water solution, scrape and vacuum.

Note: If you have any damaged sections of underlayment (look for mold, rot and deep gouges) they should be fixed or replaced. If you feel comfortable replacing them yourself, do. If not, hire a professional to come in and do it—it is a quick job and easy for a pro with experience, and should be relatively inexpensive.

Option 3:
You will need to make a template to accurately cut your new flooring. Start about 1/8 inch away from the walls and tape thick paper or cardboard into a connecting pattern, overlapping each piece of paper by 2 inches. As you build your template, use a utility knife to carefully cut small triangles into each new piece of paper so you can cover them with masking tape and fix the template to the subfloor.

Loose Boards

Option 1:
If squeaking is caused by loose boards, you can easily reseat them using a thick cloth- or carpet-covered piece of 2x4 and a hammer. Position the 2x4 across the boards so it is at a right angle with the boards and tap into place using a hammer. If the reseating doesn’t feel solid, try option 3.

Option 2:
Glazier’s points are tiny triangular shims that shore up loose boards and are available at home repair stores. To ease their placement, lubricate them with liquid or powder graphite and tap them between loose boards until the boards sit snugly against one another. You can countersink each glazier’s point by positioning the edge of a putty knife against it and striking with a hammer.

Option 3:
You can use flooring nails for this option, or special fasteners called annular-ring nails, which seat better than ordinary nails. Drill pilot holes smaller than your nails from the squeaky board down through the subfloor. If possible, drill down to the joist below. Drive nails into pilots, countersinking the heads. Cover heads with matching wood putty.

For more help with your noisy steps, visit the Floors Forum and speak to others about your squeaky problems.