A squeaky hardwood floor can be one of the more annoying things about a home. It could take a few tries to find the right fix for your particular floor. So, what are some quick fixes for squeaky hardwood floors?
To fix squeaky hardwood floors, try inserting shims into gaps, fixing the joists or the subflooring, filling in gaps with adhesive, nailing through the top of the floor, lubricating the floorboards, or replacing the nails. You can also try using a humidifier or getting a squeak fixing tool.
Let’s take a look at why your floors are squeaking and some quick ways to fix it.
What Causes a Squeaky Floor?
Figuring out the source of a squeaky floor will often be the fastest way to fix the problem.
Squeaky floors are caused when the floorboards rub against something else such as nails, other wood, the joists, or even your ducts. It can even be caused by the shift in weather.
Once you find the source, you can fix the squeak either from below or from above, depending on your level of access to the squeak. Typically, these will be inexpensive and shouldn’t require a lot of your time.
You might also want to read: Joist Vs. Beam Vs Girder: What’s the Difference?
How to Fix Squeaky Hardwood Floors
1. Insert Shims Into the Gaps
One of the main reasons a floor squeaks is because there is a gap between the floorboards and a joist. The easiest way to fix this problem is to use wood shims to fill that gap.
If possible, go below the floor into the basement or crawl space and have someone walk around the room above you. Listen carefully for the source of the squeak.
Once you find it, look at the gap and estimate the number of wood shims you will need to insert to stop the squeak. Test it out first by placing the shims into the gap and ensure that it no longer squeaks.
Be careful when you do this because you don’t want to force the shims into the gap or wedge them in using a hammer. You can damage the floor, the subfloor, or both by doing this.
Once you are sure that the squeak is gone, remove the shims and apply some wood glue or some kind of strong adhesive to the shim.
Reinsert the shims into the gap and hold in place to allow the adhesive to take hold. Make sure to check the other side of the joist for another gap on that side. If there is another gap, repeat the same process as above.
If you don’t feel that the shim is secured enough with just the glue, you can use screws to anchor the shim in place. You’ll want to angle the screw so that it goes through both the joist and the shim and into the subfloor without piercing through the floorboards above.
2. Fill in the Gaps With Adhesive
While using shims can work for isolated areas, they aren’t very practical when it comes to longer gaps.
If you have a gap that runs the length of a joist, you can fix this quickly by using a strong adhesive and a caulk gun. A construction adhesive such as this Liquid Nails LN-907 will do the trick. This adhesive works in extreme temperatures and can be used in all weather.
Simply fill the gap with adhesive and when it hardens, it will prevent the squeaking. Use the caulk gun to get it down into the gap. Check the opposite side of the joist. If you find a gap on the other side, be sure to do the same thing and fill it with the adhesive.
Note: Always wear a mask when using an adhesive or glue within confined areas. These products have powerful chemicals in them that can cause dizziness and other problems if you breathe them in. Wear a mask or respirator when handling this material in close quarters.
3. Support a Warped Joist With a Board
Known as “sistering,” this method will give additional support to the original joist board. Sometimes a board will become warped or bowed if they aren’t installed correctly. An example would be if they were damp during installation.
You’re going to be using more of the construction adhesive and screws for this repair. Depending on the length of the warped or damaged board, you can cut the 2×4 to fit alongside the entire joist or a portion of it.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to make sure the 2×4 has at least 1 ft of wood on either side of the area you are attaching it to. So, if the squeaky area of the joist is 3 ft, you’ll want to cut your 2×4 to be 5ft.
To make everything easier, you’ll want to start by pre-drilling holes along the length of the 2×4 for the screws you’ll be using. Doing this will save time and prevent any issues you might have when you start drilling in the screws.
Make sure the holes are angled up and not going straight into the joist. This gives the screw more hold on the joist and secures them more tightly.
After that, you’ll want to start applying the adhesive to the top and one side of a 2×4 board. Press the board up to the subfloor and against the joist. Hold the wood there tight as you drill in the screws. Again, drill them in an upward angle.
Repeat this on the other side of the joist if needed.
4. Add a Block to the Subfloor
This is similar to sistering a joist in the way that it’s adding additional support. This repair involves using more wood to block the joist at the subfloor joints.
The subfloor joints are areas of the subfloor where two layers of it meet. If they are uneven or have come loose in some way, they will squeak as they rub together.
You’ll want to measure the distance between two joists near the joints causing the squeaking and cut your block to fit in that space. You want the block to fit snugly, but not too tight or you could cause more squeaking later on.
Once you have your block, you can do the same thing as above and pre-drill your screw holes at an upward angle on both ends of the block to make things easier later.
Once your holes are drilled, apply the adhesive to the length of the top of the block and place it up onto the subfloor where the two joints meet. Hold it there for a moment and then drill the block into the joists.
This method can also be used to support noisy joists, not just the subfloor joints. The steps will be the same.
5. Screw Into the Subflooring
Sometimes the problem isn’t with the joists at all and it’s actually the floorboards and the subfloor rubbing against each other. This is another easy fix. You’ll want to secure the two together to stop the noise.
You’ll do this by drilling screws through the bottom of the subfloor and into the finished flooring above. This will close that gap and stop the squeak.
You want to be very careful with this method, though. If you aren’t, you risk drilling straight through the finished flooring. Make sure your screws are long enough to go through the subfloor and into the floorboards, but not too long that they go all the way through.
If you have floor vents for your heating or air-conditioning, you can easily find the thickness of your floorboards and subfloor. You’ll want to remove the vent cover and measure the floor where the duct is. Or you can drill a small hole in an area that’s out of the way and use a nail to measure the thickness.
Use a piece of masking tape on the drill bit to measure the desired depth to make sure you don’t drill past the thickness of your flooring.
6. Drive in a Nail From Above
Sometimes if you don’t have access to the subflooring, you can secure the subfloor to the floorboards by driving in nails from above.
For best results, it’s best to drive the nail through to the joists. You can use a joist finder like this Tavool Stud Finder. This tool can find metal, wood, and wires on your floors, walls, and ceilings. It’s a helpful tool to have when you’re trying to fix that squeak in your floor.
Once you’ve found the joists near the squeaky area, drive your nail into the floor to secure both the floorboards and the subfloor to the joists.
You’ll want to countersink the nails to make them flush with the rest of the floor so you can avoid anything catching on the nail.
You can accomplish this with a nail setting kit like this Stanley 3-piece set. The set comes with three sizes and is from the trusted Stanley brand, which is a division of Black and Decker.
If your hardwood floors are covered in carpet, you can potentially use the carpet to hide the nail head. You might need to brush the pile of the carpet initially in order to completely hide it.
7. Try a Lubricant
Using a lubricant can provide some relief to the squeaking in your floors. There are a variety of dry lubricants that you can try to ease the friction causing the squeak on your floors.
You can try using baby powder, baking soda, powdered graphite, or talcum powder. You’ll just need to sprinkle it over the boards in the area that is causing the squeak. Walk over the area a few times to get the powder into the cracks and between the boards.
You can purchase powdered graphite like this AGS Graphite Extra Fine on Amazon. It’s an odorless and non-toxic all-purpose lubricant that will stop that squeak in your floors.
There are also dry silicone lubricants that come in a spray that you can use as well. After you spray it into the cracks between the boards, wipe off any excess lubricant with a damp cloth.
It’s important to remember that this likely isn’t going to be a permanent solution. You may need to reapply periodically as the squeaking returns.
8. Fixing or Replace Nails
When the nails come loose, it will cause squeaking when the floorboards are walked on. You’ll know when this happens because the head of the nail will be popped out of the wood.
This is usually caused by the humidity in your home. It forces the wood to expand and contract, which loosens the nails. In addition to the squeaking, these protruding nails can cause a tripping hazard as well as a risk to bare feet.
While you can simply hammer the nail back into the wood, it’s only a temporary fix as the humidity will force the nail to pop out again. However, replacing the nail with screws can be a more permanent solution.
You’ll want to pull the nail out and find a screw that is the same length as the nail was. Drill the screw into the hole left by the nail.
Make sure that you drill the screw deeper than the surface of the floor. You can, of course, leave the screws flush with the floor, but you risk them getting caught on socks or other things.
When the screw is deep enough into the floor, fill in the hole with some wood filler. You’ll want to overfill it slightly at first and let it dry. If it shrinks when it dries, add more filler to the hole.
Repeat the process until the hole is flush with the rest of the floor. Sand the filler down so that it’s even with the surface of the floor. Do this with any other nails that are causing your floor to squeak.
9. Buy a Correcting Tool
These tools are relatively inexpensive to purchase, and you can find them both online and at a hardware store. There are two examples that you can get to fix that squeak in your floor.
The first is a great tool to use if you need to fix the floor from above. The Squeeeek No More is a tool that works similarly to countersinking a nail. This tool is designed to stop squeaks between the joists. It snaps off the head of the screw when it’s embedded ¼ in below the surface of the hardwood.
The video below gives you a demonstration of how the Squeeeek No More works.
If you have access to the subfloor, another tool you can try is the Squeak-Ender Floor Squeak Eliminator. This tool works with your joists to secure the floorboards and tightens any gaps.
It comes with a mounting plate and metal rod that you attach to the subfloor next to the joist, which acts as an anchor. Place this metal plate directly under the squeaky spot.
You then attach the steel bracket that comes with the kit to the bottom of the joist. You’ll tighten the pieces together until the squeak is gone.
10. Get a Humidifier
When the weather outside shifts, so do houses. More specifically, the wood in the houses, especially old houses.
The wood on your floors is no different. If you are noticing that the floors squeak more during very hot summers or extremely cold winters, the squeak is most likely due to the weather.
The wood will expand and contract depending on the humidity of the house. The drier the air, the more the wood will shrink. The winter months are typically drier than summer and so you’re likely to hear more squeaking in the winter as a result.
The opposite can also happen in the summer. Too much moisture in the air will expand your hardwood floors, causing the squeaking as well.
Using a humidifier to control the moisture in the air during the winter and summer will keep your floors less noisy.
Quick Fixes for Upstairs Floors
Sometimes if you have hardwood floors upstairs, you don’t have access to the subfloor unless you tear up the wood. Ripping up your hardwood floors is less ideal, so here are ways to help with a squeaky upstairs floor.
You have two options that will work best for situations like this. You can nail the floorboards to the joists, as mentioned above. Or you can use a squeak ender tool, also mentioned above.
What About Squeaky Stairs?
If your stairs are noisy, the same methods mentioned above could potentially help you. If you have access to the joists and the subfloor from below the staircase, then you can easily use any of the tips mentioned earlier.
If the stairs are sealed off underneath, things get a little tricky, but it’s similar to repairing the upstairs flooring as well. You’ll have to go into the stair from above.
When it comes to squeaky floors, you have a variety of quick fixes to choose from, such as shims, adhesive, new boards or blocks, dry lubricants, and nails, or screws. You can also try using a humidifier or a squeak fixing tool. Hopefully, this article has given you the quick fix to cure your squeaky floor.