How To Repair Floor Squeaks
You’ve just purchased carpet for your entire home and have scheduled the installation. The carpet salesman gave you a preparation checklist to review prior to installation. Among other things, the list includes exactly what the installers will do, and not do. As you go down the list you fail to read anything about the repair of squeaky flooring. You had assumed that the installers would fix any squeaks during the installation.
To your dismay, the carpet salesman confirms that fixing squeaks is your own responsibility. The nerve!
Squeaks can be caused by a variety of sources in your sub flooring. They vary based upon the material used and the method in which it is held together. Movement in seams between sheets of wooden sub flooring may be the culprit. One of the most bothersome sources of squeaks is that caused by loosened nails rubbing against wood.
One solution that is often recommended is to lubricate the squeaky areas with a bit of liquid graphite or talcum powder. While this method may temporarily fix the squeak, it is not a permanent solution. The only permanent fix is to stop whatever area of the sub floor is moving.
Locate the precise areas in your home where squeaks are positioned by getting underneath the sub floor. Have someone walk over the floor above you and mark each spot that needs to be fixed. If your home is literally filled with squeaks you may want to have a professional carpenter tackle the job.
As you locate squeaks try to discern what exactly is causing it. If the noise is caused by a gap between a joist and the sub flooring, place a shim in between the two. Be extremely careful when driving the shim into position. It must be placed ONLY tight enough to fix the squeak. Driving the shim in too far may push up the sub flooring causing squeaks in other areas. This is a great way to turn one squeak into several.
In areas that have squeaks look for nails that have missed the floor joists. When this happens the nails may rub against the joists causing particularly irritating squeaks. You can fix this type of problem by cutting off the nails. Squeaks may also be eliminated by nailing support between the floor joists where necessary.
If you’re installing carpet upon a simple plywood sub floor you may be able to eliminate squeaks by simply drilling screws down from above. In problem areas simply drill screws down into the floor. Be sure to locate the joists below so that you drill in the proper areas. One method is to simply place screws near where the nails have been driven in problem areas. You can use either drywall screws or weightier sub floor screws.
For wooden hard flooring that will not be carpeted the method is a bit different. Squeaks caused by flooring not being flush with the sub floor can be fixed by drilling screws up from below. Being sure not to drill all the way through the upper flooring, from below drill ¼” holes into the sub floor. Using carpenter’s glue, force the glue up into the space between the sub flooring and upper flooring. From below drill screws through the sub floor into the upper flooring, securing the two layers together. Have someone stand upon the area when drilling. Be very careful that the screws are short enough that they don’t penetrate the upper flooring, thus securing your helper’s foot to the floor as well. The above fix is for finished wood flooring. Please consult your flooring’s manufacturer before attempting any repair work.
If you’ve only got one or two squeaks it might be worth your trouble to get rid of them yourself. Depending upon the difficulty of the fix, you may want to procure the services of a carpenter rather than attempt the repair yourself. Floors with finished ceilings below can be particularly difficult to fix.