Have you ever snuck to the fridge for a midnight snack, then all of a sudden, you hit a squeaky floorboard, ultimately waking your entire family? Squeaky floorboards are annoying, but do they also signal that you have a serious structural problem on your hands?
Squeaky floors do not necessarily imply that you have a structural problem. They can be caused by a variety of factors, including seasonal humidity changes, loose floor joists, or a gap between the floor and subfloor. In some cases, however, they might indicate a foundational issue.
Below I’ve listed a few reasons why your floors may be squeaking and how to fix it.
Seasonal Expansion and Contraction
One of the most common reasons wood flooring becomes squeaky is due to seasonal changes in humidity levels. During the summer, when the air is moist, wood expands. Similarly, during the winter, when the air is dry, wood contracts. The contracted wood can create gaps between your floorboards, which can lead to squeaking. Any squeaking caused by wintertime contractions will likely go away on their own come springtime.
Loose Floor Joist
If your floors squeak year-round, there may be something wrong with some of your flooring joists. The joists are the first, lowest layer of flooring. They help increase the structural integrity of your floor. Sometimes the nails holding the joists to the next layer up, the subfloor, can become loose, resulting in squeaking.
In the video by Monkey See, they demonstrate how to fix this problem when you have access to the area below your floor using the steps below:
- Drive shims between the subfloor and the floor joist using a hammer.
- Snap off any remaining part of the shim that is sticking out.
- Use construction adhesive to fill any additional spaces.
If you don’t have access to the area below your floor, you can still fix this problem from above following these steps:
- Buy a no squeak kit to help you accomplish this task. The O’Berry Enterprises Squeek No More Kit is highly rated and very affordable!
- Use the joist finding tools from your kit or a stud sensor to locate the loose joist below.
- Drive screws through your floor into the joist below.
- Snap off the heads of the screws using the tripod fixture in your kit (so nothing is left sticking out of the floor!)
- Use wood filler to fill the hole.
Space Between the Floor and Subfloor
Sometimes, the nails holding the floor and subfloor together can become loose, resulting in a small gap between them. This can lead to annoying squeaking! To see a helpful demonstration of how to fix this, continue watching the Monkey See video from before!
In the latter half of the video, the handyman demonstrates how to close the gap between your floor and subfloor in five steps:
- Peel back the metal of the heat registers or radiators in your home to reveal your flooring.
- Measure the thickness of your floor.
- Using your floor measurements, pick out a drill bit that is long enough to go completely through your subfloor, but only partially through the upper flooring.
- Drill a bunch of holes from the subfloor into the finished floor above (but not all the way through it!)
- Drill your screws into the predrilled holes.
This will bring the floor and subfloor together and close the gap so you will be squeak free in no time!
While serious foundational issues can lead to squeaky floors, this problem is less common and tends to be accompanied by a host of other issues. If your house has some (or all) of the characteristics listed below, you may have foundational issues:
- Soft spots in your flooring
- Uneven flooring
- Cracks in your tiling
- Cracks in your brickwork
- Cracks where the ceiling and wall meet
- Cracks above your windows
- Cracks in the foundation
- Bulging walls
- Squeaking floors that get worse over time
Foundational problems are often caused by shifting soil underneath your home. If you think you may have a foundational problem, it’s best to call a foundation repair contractor. They will take a look at your concrete slab, pier and beam foundation, or basement to determine where the problem is coming from and how to fix it.
Most of the time, squeaky floors do not signal serious structural problems. You can typically fix squeaky floors relatively quickly and easily using the steps outlined above. However, squeaky floors can be caused by more serious problems, such as foundational issues, which require professional help.