How to Stop Squeaky Floorboards for a Quieter Home

Standard floorboards being repaired

Last updated: September 18, 2023 at 11:06 am

Squeaky floorboards are common in old homes, but they can appear in new homes as well. From minor irritation, it can become very annoying. That’s why quickly finding the right solution to fix this problem is essential.

Silencing squeaky floors is quick and inexpensive. Usually, it only takes 10 minutes to fix the problem. The main thing here, however, is finding the cause of the noise and ensuring it’s not a structural problem.

In this article:

We’ll cover the best practices which will help you identify the problem then explain 5 ways to stop the squeaky noise.

Why Squeaky Floorboards Happen

The most common reason you hear the noise when you step on the floorboard is the loose boards. They are bouncy and moveable, which causes them to rub together or onto the floor joist, resulting in squeaky noise. There are several reasons why the board is loose, and before fixing this problem, you need to find out the cause of the noisy floorboard.

The floor joist is the wooden beam underneath the subfloor that holds the suspended floorboard’s weight. If there is a gap between the top of the joist and the subfloor’s underside, then there can be a space for movement when you step on the flooring.

The same thing happens when the wrong nails have been used to secure the flooring to the joists, this will also leave the floorboards loose and let them move around.

So the main reasons why you get squeaky floorboards are:

  • Due to the gap that’s between the top of the joist and the subfloor underside
  • Wrong nails were used for securing the floor to the floor joist
  • There can be an issue with the supporting joists under the boards

If you have floated or glued down flooring, then the issue can result from moisture, bad installation, uneven flooring, or the flooring wasn’t acclimatised. Usually, these cases require the help of professionals, especially if there’s a severe issue.

Common Causes of Squeaky Floorboards

Firstly, you should find the exact area of the noise to determine what causes the unwanted sound. If you have access to space beneath the floor, like crawl space, it will be much easier for you to eliminate the problem as you don’t need to lift the boards.

When you finally find the main cause of your creaking floorboards, then you can figure out the needed steps to solve this problem. If you find that loose floorboards do not cause the noise, then there is a high chance of friction between the boards. This can be fixed in a few minutes by using a dry lubricant like talcum powder.

Here are the solutions to the most common causes of squeaky floorboards.

Also read: Squeaky Stairs: Fix From Above, Below or Through Carpet

Incorrect Nails and Wrong Fitting of the Nails

If the wrong nails were used for securing the flooring, then there is a chance that they are not strong enough to keep the floor in one place. To solve this issue, just remove the incorrect nails and use the ones that fit your floorboard.

If the nails are correct, but the floor is not nailed to the joist correctly, then it can cause squeaky noises as well. In this case, you should remove the nails and check where there is a problem. The nails may be too far from each other, or they slipped out. Here you should screw-fix the floorboard instead of adding new nails to secure the floor, as you may damage it even further.

Gaps Between the Joist and Floor

If you notice a gap between the top of the floor joist and the underside of the subfloor, then apply some carpenter’s glue and affix a thin wood piece to fill in this gap. Make sure the wood piece has the right height because there is a risk of raising the subfloor, which creates a bump in your floor.

If the gap caused the floor joist to shrunk over time, you should install a long plank of timber near the affected joist. It should be slightly raised, as it has to reach the subfloor and fill the gap. It almost serves as a replacement for the joist.

Uneven Subfloor

If your subfloor is uneven, it can cause gaps between the floated or glued down the floor. And this causes a creaking noise. Here you need to find the small hole in the plank over the gap. Then inject epoxy into it. This will not work, however, if the space is large. In this case, you will need to lay new boards down.

Issues with Acclimatisation and Moisture

It’s very important to let your floorboard adapt to its new environment. If it isn’t done correctly, then there is a high chance that the floorboard will expand or contract after installation. This can create gaps between the boards, which rub together, causing unwanted noise. In this case, it’s better to replace the flooring instead of fixing it.

When the flooring is exposed to moisture, it will expand. The floor can absorb the water and change its shape and size. This causes gaps and noisy floorboards. Here you will not be able to fix everything quickly. You will have to remove the damaged floorboards and change them for the new ones.

5 Tips to Quickly Fix Noisy Floorboards

If you are still not sure what the cause of the squeaky noises is after inspecting, you should not risk it and make the problem even worse. Therefore, you should seek help from professionals and experienced carpenters, who know what can be the cause of the problem.

If you found the cause of the noise and it’s not something severe, then here are some quick tips for fixing the problem:

Tip 1: Add Dry Lubricant to the Squeaky Area

If you don’t have access to the floor joists and subfloor, you should try adding dry lubricant to the noisy area. You can try sprinkling talcum powder or powder graphite into the joints. Then place a cloth over the floorboards and make sure the lubricant goes into the cracks.

This helps to reduce the friction between planks and silence small squeaks. To remove the remains of the lubricant, just use a vacuum cleaner or damp cloth. If it doesn’t help, then try spraying a dry silicone lubricant between the floorboards. After doing that, wipe off the excess lubricant with a damp cloth or paper towel.

Tip 2: Fill the Gaps with Construction Adhesive

As mentioned above, a small wood piece can be added to silence the squeak at a particular area. However, if you see a long gap, you should not install many small pieces to fix this problem. Here you can use fast-set construction adhesive, which will help you to fill in long gaps and cracks. Using a caulking gun to put the adhesive into the gap areas between the subfloor and joist will help you to get rid of squeaky noises.

It’s also recommended checking on both sides of the joist if there are any gaps. You should fill all of them. When the adhesive hardens, the floorboards will be secured in one place, eliminating the opportunity to make a creaking noise.

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Tip 3: Add a Board Alongside the Joist

There can be situations when the floor joists twist, shrink, bow, etc. This usually happens when they were damp during the installation. This results in the opening of the space between the joist and the subfloor. And when you walk across the floor, the flooring moves and rubs on the nails. This is what makes the squeaky noises. To fix this problem, you can install a longboard alongside the joist.

Tip 4: Add Timber Blocks to Noisy Joists

Another great tip to silence the noisy floors is to add solid blocks in between the joists. Just cut the block from the same timber as the joists. You will need two or three blocks. They should not fit too tightly between two-floor joists.

They should be spread out evenly along the length of the joists. Then slide each block against the underside of the subfloor and fasten them with screws driven through the sides of the joists.

Tip 5: Drive Screws Through the Bottom of the Floorboards

The squeaks that come from between the joists are likely to be caused by floorboards rubbing against the underlying subfloor or the nails that hold down the flooring. You can stop this movement by adding short screws up through the subfloor’s underside and into the bottom of the finished flooring.

Here you have to be very careful. Make sure the screws are short and not long enough to go through the top of the flooring. You can end up making the problem even worse if the screws are too long.

To ensure you’re doing everything correctly, drive the first screw in another area to check if the screw doesn’t poke through the top surface.

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Last update on 2023-11-21 at 14:12 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About the Author: AJ

AJ is a self-confessed soundproofing nut. He has written full-time on Quiet Living for the past 4 years, and has a wealth of knowledge about living a quieter life, soundproofing and fixing loud noises.

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