Squeaky floors may alert you to kids sneaking in past curfew, but they've got little else going for them. Annoying floor squeaks, common in many homes, typically occur after the house has settled and flooring lumber has dried out and shrunk.
As you walk across the floor, boards rub against each other or slide against nail shafts to produce a cacophony of squeaks and creaks.
How Do You Stop Your Floors from Squeaking?
Loose subflooring—both solid-board and plywood types—will also emit high-pitched chirps. Traditional hardwood strip flooring is the most susceptible to developing a case of the squeaks, but all types of flooring can make annoying noises.
The good news is that it's easy to silence nearly any squeak in a matter of minutes—if you know a few tricks. Here, we'll show you how to fix a squeaky floor when working below the floor and above it. We even include tips for quieting carpeted areas and noisy stairs.
Methods for Fixing Squeaky Floors
Repair From Below
Use Carpenter’s Glue
If the floor is over a basement or crawl space, go below to make the repairs.
- Start by having someone walk across the floor while you listen from below. When you hear a squeak, have the person above rap on the floor so you can pinpoint the exact spot.
- Next, take a thin wood shim and coat it with carpenter's glue. Gently tap the shim into the space between the joist and subfloor. Don't drive it in too far because you will raise the flooring.
- You just want to fill the gap above the joist and take out any "give" in the floor. For additional support, drive a 1 1/4-in. drywall screw at an angle up through the joist and shim and into the subfloor.
Use a Squeak-Ender
Another effective way to silence floors from below is with a cleverly designed piece of hardware called the Squeak-Ender ($7). It consists of a threaded rod attached to a flat mounting plate and a steel bracket fitted with a squared-off hook on one end.
- Installation is easy. Screw the mounting plate to the underside of the subfloor with the four screws provided.
- Position it directly under the squeaky spot. Slide the bracket over the threaded rod and hook it onto the joist.
- Spin a nut onto the rod, then tighten it with a wrench until the subfloor is pulled down snug against the joist.
For a Hold-Down bracket
- Hold the Squeak-Ender's steel mounting plate against the joist, then screw it to the plywood subfloor.
- Tighten the nut with a wrench until the subfloor is pulled down snug against the floor joist.
For Glue-Coated Shims
- Tap a wood shim into the gap above the floor joist after smearing the shim with carpenter’s glue.
- Drive a drywall screw at an angle up through the joist and shim and into the plywood subfloor above.
Working from Above
When you can't get access to the floor joists from below, your only choice is to make the repairs from above. The trick, however, is to silence the squeaks without damaging the finished floor. Fortunately, there are two fastening systems, both manufactured by O'Berry Enterprises, that can do just that.
Fixing Creaks Under Carpeting
The Squeeeeek-No-More Kit (about $23) can be used on carpeting laid over a wood subfloor. The kit consists of a screwdriver bit, pilot screw to help you locate joists, depth-control fixture and 50 specially designed breakaway screws.
- First, locate the joist nearest the squeak.
- Stand the depth-control fixture on the carpet directly over the joist. Wrap transparent tape around one of the screws to prevent it from catching on the carpet strands, drive it through the fixture.
- Remove the fixture, tip it sideways and insert the screwhead into the slot in the top of the fixture. Rock the fixture side to side until the screwhead snaps off below the surface of the subfloor.
Fixing Squeaky Hardwood Floors
The Counter-Snap Kit provides an effective, nearly undetectable way to stop squeaks in hardwood floors. The kit comes with a screwdriver bit, depth-control fixture, and 25 breakaway screws. But, unlike the Squeeeeek-No-More system, the screwhead automatically snaps off when you drive the screw into the depth-control fixture.
- Locate the source of the squeak.
- Start by boring a 3/32-in.-dia. pilot hole through the hardwood flooring; it isn’t necessary to hit a joist below.
- Next, put a screw through the Counter-Snap’s depth-control fixture and into the pilot hole. Drive in the screw until it automatically snaps off below the surface of the wood.
- To conceal the screw, fill the pilot hole with wood putty. Allow it to dry, then lightly sand the spot. You can also use a crayon-type putty stick.
It may not be possible to silence every squeak in your home, but with the techniques described here, you can certainly cut down the chatter to an occasional chirp.
Quieting Squeaky Stairs
The typical interior staircase produces more squeaks and squawks than a flock of angry geese. The reason? Staircases are assembled from dozens of wood parts. Over time, these parts expand and contract and the joints between them loosen up. As a result, every step you take—up or down—emits an irritating creak or groan.
Here are simple techniques for reducing stair squeaks:
From the Back of the Staircase
- Look for access to the back of the stairs in closets and the basement—these repairs are the most effective.
- From the rear, tap glue-coated shims into the joints between the horizontal treads and vertical risers.
- Or, screw wood blocks into the corners where the risers meet the treads.
A Topside Repair
When you can't get behind the staircase, try one of these topside repairs:
- Take several very thin wood shims and tap them into any loose or squeaky joints that you find. Neatly trim off the shims with a utility knife.
- Another way to reinforce loose parts is to glue and nail a length of quarter-round molding along each step.
Where to find it
E&E Consumer Products
7200 Miller Dr.
Warren, MI 48092
Squeeeeek-No-More and Counter-Snap Kits:
McHenry, IL 60050