Squeak Floor Repair

Diagnose what is causing a squeak by learning techniques for floor repair.

Squeaks happen when one part of the floor works loose and begins rubbing against another. Because basements and and crawlspaces normally don't have ceilings you can tighten loose boards from there. If you can't work from below, you will have to work from above. First you must find out what is causing the squeak. You can accomplish this task by having someone walk around while you watch for movement either from below where there is an open ceiling or by getting you head down to look across the floor surface. Once you find the squeak you can fix it with one of the four solutions such as: tightening loose subflooring, strengthening bridging, flattening finish flooring, or nailing from above. It all depends on what kind of sqeak it is and what kind of area you have to work with.

If you can see light between the top of a joist and the subflooring, place a straightedge alongside the top edge of the joist. If the joist top is straight, the subfloor is lifting. To eliminate this type of squeak, coat a wood shingle or a shim with glue and drive it into the gap. If the subfloor lies flat against the straightedge, the joist is probably sagging slightly. Cut a piece of 2x4 to extend at least 12 inches beyond the gap at each end. Fit it tightly against the subfloor and nail it to one side of the joist.

If a squeak is coming from between joists, it maybe because of loose or inadequate bridging that allows the joists or subfloor to move. Check to make sure that and diagonal bridging is nailed tightly to the joists. Next you want to cut a 1x board to fit between the joists as a straightedge and check the squeak area to see if the subfloor is sagging or arching upward. To fix a subfloor sag, cut a tightfitting piece of solid bridging and drive it up into place between the two joists, forcing the subfloor upward. Nail through the joists into the ends of the bridging. If the subfloor is arching up, secure a piece of bridging in place. Then drive a glue-coated shim or shingle into the gap between the top of the bridging and the subfloor.

Humidity can cause hardwood floors to bulge up away from the subfloor. To fix this problem drill holes from below and drive wood screws up through the subfloor to pull the finished floor down. Make sure you don't go all the way through the floor. Also it is best to check that the tips of the screws aren't sticking through the floor. Fit the screws with washers so that they won't be pulled up through the subflooring.

If you cannot fix a squeak from below you can nail from above by driving ring-shank flooring nails into the surface of loose boards. First drill angled holes so that the boards won't split. Then countersink the nails with a nail set and fill the holes with wood putty, or you can use flathead screws by countersinking them and filling the holes with plugs cut from a dowel.

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