Squeaky floors in the home can be quite annoying and even new homes aren’t exempt from this problem.
The constant high-pitched noise every time someone walks across the floor will start to bug you and get out of control after a while.
Loose floorboards can be blamed for these maddening sounds and even carpeted floors can squeak if the plywood subfloor isn’t secured strong enough to the joists.
So how to fix squeaky floors before you start to lose your mind?
Fortunately fixing squeaky floors is fairly simple, straightforward, and will not cost you too much.
In this article, we will discuss the ways on how to fix a squeaky hardwood floor from above and below.
- How to fix squeaky hardwood floors from above
- How to fix squeaky hardwood floors from below
- What causes floors to squeak and crack?
- Are squeaky floors safe?
How to fix squeaky hardwood floors from above
Sometimes you may not have access to space under your floors so you’ll need to fix your squeaky floor from above.
There are a few things you can do to eliminate the problem or at least reduce the sound.
These are a few ways on how to fix squeaky hardwood floors from above.
Lubricating the floorboards
Floorboards that rub against each other can cause the squeaking sounds you hear every time you walk across the floor.
Pinpoint the exact location where the squeak is originating from and add a dry lubricant to the area.
This can include lock lubricant, baby powder, and even powdered graphite.
Sprinkle or spray these into the joists between floorboards.
If you’re having a hard time finding the joists in the floorboards, simply take a hammer and lightly tap around until you hear a dull sound.
That dull thud means that you have found a joist.
After sprinkling or spraying your dry lubricant, cover the area with a cloth and walk over the boards to work the lubricant down into the cracks.
This should help to reduce any friction between the planks in the wood and stop the squeaks.
After that is done, you can use a vacuum or damp cloth to clean up the area.
If that fails, then you can try spraying a dry silicone lubricant between the squeaky floorboards and clean up any excess with a damp cloth as well.
- Alternative to graphite
- Long-term lubrication
- Easy to use
The Dupont Teflon lock lubricant provides long-lasting lubrication and is made for both indoor and outdoor uses.
It is a cleaner alternative to using powdery graphite that can get everywhere and create a huge mess.
This product is equipped with a unique applicator tip that makes it easy to use and apply.
- Silicone lubricant
- No petroleum
- Eliminates squeaks
3M silicone lubricant is a versatile product that can work in various applications to eliminate squeaks and seal out moisture.
The lubricant contains no petroleum so the chances of staging floors and clothes are next to none.
The formula can withstand extreme conditions and stand up to chilly conditions and hot summer days.
The lubricant comes in an easy-to-use spray canister for easy application.
Use counter snap screws
The last squeaky floor repair to try is to use counter snap screws to hold the joist and the floorboard.
Just make sure you find the exact floorboard that the noise is coming from because you will be driving the screws into the floor.
You don’t want it to be in the wrong place because it can cause problems.
There is a specially designed product called Squeeeek No More that works great for this purpose.
The system works on various types of flooring and not just hardwood floors.
You just need to pick up the right type of screws since the line contains different screws for different types of flooring.
Carpeting will hide the holes made by the screws while hardwood floors will require wood filler to cover up holes.
- All-inclusive kit
- Specially coated
- Snaps off easily
The Squeeeek No More kit includes a tripod tool, driver bit, stud finder, and special counter-snap screws to stop squeaks between floor joists.
The tripod tool can be used to drive the screw through any floor covering, subfloor, and into a joist.
The shaft of each screw is scored so when you drive the screw through the tripod tool, it snaps ¼ inches below the finishing floor.
This means that the threaded part of the screw remains intact and holds the subfloor to the joist securely.
If neither of these above floor fixes works then you will need to look at these below floor fixes.
How to fix squeaky hardwood floors from below
Silencing your squeaky floor from below requires access to space beneath the floor either through the basement or crawlspace.
Before heading into the crawlspace, check to make sure that it is absolutely safe.
Check for rodents, insects, snakes, etc. because you never know what may be hiding out in there.
Carry a flashlight and dress appropriately and you’ll be fine.
You should also check for asbestos or chemical odors, excessive dirt, or any other element that can make you sick.
After making all the necessary checks and ensuring the crawlspace is clear, you can begin to fix your squeaky floor.
Let us see how to fix squeaky hardwood floors from below.
Insert shims into gaps
To perform this first fix from below the floor, you will need someone to walk on the floor above so you can pinpoint exactly where the squeak is originating from.
Listen carefully as they walk back and forth across the floor and as soon as you hear a squeak ask the person to stop.
Tell them to press down on the same spot again and once you’ve pinpointed the spot, use the flashlight to see if there’s a gap between the floor joist and the subfloor.
In some instances, you may have to remove some insulation to have a better look.
Keep in mind that you may have to check both sides of the joist as well since some gaps are only visible on one side.
Do not push too hard or too far as you can accidentally raise the subfloor.
This will leave a hump on the floor above and result in another problem altogether.
The shim is to simply fill the void to stop the floor from moving up and down.
After doing this, have the person keep walking across the floor to identify all the squeaky spots and repeat the process of placing the shims into gaps.
Once all gaps are filled and the glue dried, you can trim the shims so that they are flush with the joist and you’re done.
Titebond H6838-III is a non-toxic and safe wood glue that can even be used on cutting boards.
It is solvent-free and cleans up with water easily while providing superior strength hold.
The glue provides a strong initial tack and is heat resistant and waterproof to maintain its superior strength holding power.
This industrial-grade wood glue can be used for both interior and exterior applications.
Fill gaps with construction adhesive
While filling gaps with thin wood shims silence squeaks in the floor, you may come across a long gap.
In these instances, it wouldn’t make sense to fill the space with a series of wood shims along the length of the gap.
Instead, you can use construction adhesive to fill long gaps, cracks and voids.
You will need a caulking gun to apply a thick bead of fast set construction adhesive to eliminate any squeaking due to a long gap.
Ensure to look at the side of the joist as well and fill it with the adhesive as well.
Once the adhesive sets and hardens, the squeaking and creaking will stop.
- Instant grab
- Easy to use
Gorilla Construction Adhesive features a water-resistant formula that instantly grabs and bonds to any surface.
It can be used both indoors and out and is mold and mildew resistant.
Application is easy and clean-up is a breeze with just soap and water.
This construction adhesive provides a long-lasting and heavy-duty bond unlike others construction adhesive on the market.
Nail a board along warped joists
If floor joists were damp when they were installed, they can twist or shrink resulting in a warped joist.
When this happens, a gap appears between the joist and the plywood subfloor which causes the floor to squeak and creak.
A quick fix for squeaky hardwood floors with this issue involves nailing a 2×4 board along the warped joist.
To do so, apply a continuous bead of the construction adhesive along the length of the topside of the 2×4.
After this, press it flat against the joist and slide it up to the underside of the subfloor.
Next, take your hammer and hit the bottom edge of the 2×4 a few times to make sure that it is tight against the subfloor.
To finish off, you can use 3-inch drywall screws to secure the 2×4 to the joist.
Ensure you space the screws no more than 8 inches apart.
Add blocks to noisy joists
Adding solid wood blocks between floor joists can stop your floor from squeaking as well.
You will need to cut the block the same size as the joist, say if your joist is 2×8 you will need to cut the solid blocking from a 2×8.
You will need to cut about two or three blocks to fit snugly between the two joists.
Ensure they don’t fit too tightly or other complications may arise.
Use construction adhesive along the top edge of each block and place the blocks along the length of the joist while evenly spacing them out and slide up to the underside of the subfloor.
You can secure the blocks to the side of the joist using 3-inch drywall screws.
Drive screws through the bottom
Floorboards rubbing against the plywood subfloor can cause those irritating squeaking noises you hear.
Other times, it can be caused by rubbing against the nails that were put in place to secure the flooring.
No matter the cause, this last fix should be able to help stop squeaking floors by using screws.
This fix calls for driving short screws into the subfloor and the bottom of the finished floor.
You need to be careful with this fix and selective with the length of screws you need to use because you do not want a screw that penetrates the finished floor.
Do a test in an area where no one walks like in a closet or so and see if the screw pokes through the finished floor.
If it does then it is too long and if it doesn’t then you can carry on.
If neither of these above floors or below-floor methods to fixing squeaky floors work, then it is time to call in the professionals.
It could mean that there is a serious underlying problem that needs to be checked out asap.
What causes floors to squeak and crack?
Squeaky floors are generally found in older homes but can be found in new homes as well.
However, older homes are more prone to squeaky floors because of how much time has elapsed since the floor was put in.
Flooring includes several layers; the finished layer that you see and the subfloor layer beneath the finished layer that you cannot see.
Below the subfloor, you’ll find the placement of joists that run perpendicular to the finished floor.
All these layers are held together with nails for a secure hold.
Most times floors squeak and creak because of suspended ground floors.
Suspended ground floors usually see the placement of joists under floorboards to hold them in place and handle their weight.
As time goes on, gaps can form between the joists and floorboards which results in the squeaking you hear.
In other situations, over a certain period, wood can expand and contract which can cause nails to become loose.
A loose nail means that there is nothing there to hold the layers together and a gap is created which results in squeaking.
Other instances that can cause a squeak is if floorboards rub against each other if they’re warped or if the nails squeak in and out of the wood.
Floorboards can also crack if the floor joist shrinks or twists.
Are squeaky floors safe?
Squeaky floors are relatively safe but can be a pain to deal with especially if you’re in bed trying to sleep and hear every step someone takes.
The only way your squeaky floors may not be safe is if you live in a really old house and there are structural issues.
In this case, you may need to call in the professionals to fully assess the situation and make the necessary corrections or rebuild the flooring structure altogether.
However, in most cases, squeaky floors are just plain annoying and not much of a safety issue.
Floors, especially hardwood floors tend to squeak over time due to the expansion and contraction of the wood used.
Squeaky floors do not usually lead to the collapse of the floor unless of structural issues.
If you do experience squeaky floors, it may be best to check it out yourself or have someone come in to check it just to be on the safe side.