Last updated: April 14, 2022 at 13:01 pm
You’re up late watching a movie, and you’re enjoying the show until you hear a high-pitched squeak. You look around to see if you have any unwanted rodent visitors, but the squeaking is coming from underneath the floor!
You may not realize it, but many things can cause your laminate floor to squeak. Your flooring subfloor could be too thin, or it might be made of wood. Your joints could’ve been glued improperly or not at all. Or the squeaking could be from your subfloor being uneven.
If your laminate floor starts to squeak or has been squeaking for years, we have some tips for you to fix your floor without causing any damage to your home.
IN THIS ARTICLE
- 1 Causes of Squeaky Laminate Floors
- 2 6 Simple Ways to Fix Squeaky Laminate
- 3 Takeaway: Fixing Squeaky Laminate Floor
Causes of Squeaky Laminate Floors
The reason behind your laminate flooring squeaking depends on several factors. Here are some of the common causes:
Inadequate Subfloor Preparation
When installing a new laminate floor in a home, the subfloor must be prepared properly before placing the new material. If the current subfloor consists of an old vinyl or linoleum flooring and isn’t even in its levelness, these surfaces will cause the new laminate to shift.
Laminate flooring doesn’t squeak when it’s laid on a smooth, level surface. When the flooring is laid over a rough, uneven, or bouncy subfloor, however, the boards can shift slightly and rub against each other, causing them to squeak.
One way to stop the laminate floor from squeaking is to remove it and install it again on a smooth surface. It’s not necessary to replace the subfloor, although you might need to fix any irregularities with a self-leveling compound.
Friction Between the Subfloor
Squeaky laminate floors are usually caused by movement or friction between the subfloor and the underside of the laminate. This can happen for several reasons:
Gaps between the planks and the wall allow the planks to shift, producing friction. If you have gaps between your planks and your walls, you will need to fill them with a foam sealant.
A lack of expansion strips on either side of doorways allows the planks to shift when they expand due to heat or moisture. You will need to install these expansion strips before you can stop the floor from squeaking in this area.
Related: How to Soundproof a Floor for Cheap
If your laminate floor wasn’t installed correctly, it may not be as stable as it should be when you walk on it. Laminate flooring is a floating floor, which means that it isn’t nailed or glued down to the subfloor underneath.
Therefore, if anything isn’t level, or if there’s too much space between the planks and the subfloor, this can cause squeaking sounds. The floor has started to shift.
If your house settles over time, this can cause your laminate planks to move too, leading to squeaks as they rub against one another or the subfloor underneath.
6 Simple Ways to Fix Squeaky Laminate
Once you’ve determined the cause of your squeaky laminate flooring, it’s easy enough to repair it. Here are 7 easy ways to fix your squeaky laminate flooring:
1. Find Where the Squeaking Is Coming From
The first thing you need to do is find out where the squeak is coming from. You can test this by walking across the floor and listening for any abnormal sounds. If you can’t hear anything, ask someone else to go with you so that they can identify where the noise is coming from while you walk on it.
The next step will be to determine what type of squeak it is, whether it’s caused by movement or vibration – both are common causes in laminate floors. There are two common types:
- Laminate flooring that has been installed incorrectly and has not been fixed properly – if this is your case, then you will notice some squeaking when walking across them.
- Laminate flooring that is not screwed down tight enough – if your floors are not screwed down tightly enough then they will tend to move around more than normal causing them to make noises when people walk on them.
If your laminate flooring was installed incorrectly, then you need to remove it and reinstall it properly. If you have no experience with doing this, then I suggest hiring a professional installer who has experience in installing laminate floors.
2. Check the Subfloor
Laminate flooring is installed over a subfloor (usually plywood), and if the subfloor has shifted or become uneven, that can cause the laminate floor to squeak. The solution is to screw down the subfloor so that it’s flush with the joists below.
If you find that the problem is localized in one area, cut a square hole into the subfloor and glue and screw a piece of plywood over that area to even it out. You can use concrete screws and hammer them in place, but this can be time-consuming and difficult. Another option is to use a powder-actuated fastener. These are available for rent at many home improvement stores.
If you’re unsure about your ability to use this kind of tool safely, don’t be afraid to hire a professional who will already have the appropriate tools on hand and probably won’t charge as much as you’d think.
3. Stop Movement at Seams
If a portion of your laminate floor squeaks when you walk over it, the likely cause is a loose seam between planks. This can happen when the seams between planks move or when one plank moves with another.
There are three ways to stop this movement
- You can glue the seams together using construction adhesive
- you can drive screws through the seams and into the subfloor below
- or you can add blocking beneath the squeak
To glue the seams, put some construction adhesive on a caulking gun and squeeze a bead onto each seam. Apply small dabs of adhesive at each end of long seams as well. To drive screws through the seam, drill pilot holes through each end of it and then drive 2-in. screws into each hole with a drill/driver set to reverse (counterclockwise rotation).
4. Place Talcum Powder Under the Planks
In many cases, squeaky floors occur because of friction between two boards as they rub against each other. One simple way to stop this rubbing noise is by placing talcum powder in between them.
To apply the talcum powder, first, look at your floor and identify the gaps or cracks in which you can see the subfloor from underneath. You will need to use a flashlight or other source of light to see through these gaps.
Once you have identified these spots, sprinkle some talcum powder into each gap using a funnel or spoon. If possible, try to move aside any furniture that may be blocking your view of any gaps as well. After doing this, just walk around on your floor normally and you should no longer hear any squeaking sounds.
5. Fill in Gaps Between the Floorboards
As laminate flooring ages, it can start to shrink. This creates gaps between the boards, which are not only annoying but also let air pass through the flooring. To fix this, squeeze a bead of caulk into each gap between the boards. Wipe up any excess with a damp rag.
Alternatively, you can also use colored wax that matches the color of the flooring to fill in gaps, but it’s more difficult to clean up and can stain clothing. If you do use wax, wear rubber gloves, and use a non-latex caulking gun to apply it.
Apply enough pressure with the crayon to fill the gap, then rub off any excess wax from the surface of the board. Repeat this process for each gap in your floorboard. The wax will help prevent future movement in the laminate planks and reduce future squeaking.
It’s also worth checking out if your problem could be squeaky floorboards.
6. Move Heavy Furniture Away
“Pinch points” are the enemy of all hardwood and laminate floors. They are the cause of all squeaks, and when you have a lot of furniture or heavy appliances on your flooring, you have a lot of pinch points. Change the position of a heavy cabinet, washers, dryers, and dishwashers that may be creating stress areas, or “pinch points.”
It’s important to note that most squeaks are caused by something being out of alignment. The way to fix this is by leveling the flooring along all contact points. If a washer is slightly tilted, it will eventually create a high-stress area that will lead to squeaking. This problem can be fixed by placing shims underneath the washer to level it out.
To identify pinch points in your home:
- Make a list of any heavy furniture or appliances located directly on top of your laminate flooring or hardwood floors.
- Using your finger, try to push down on each piece of furniture or appliance. If you feel any resistance and it does not move freely, then this could be causing your flooring to squeak.
- Now act by placing shims under each pinch point until there is no longer any resistance felt when pushing down.
Takeaway: Fixing Squeaky Laminate Floor
We hope that this guide has helped you to identify some squeaky laminate flooring and offer up some solutions to help you keep your home as quiet as possible. The best approach will be to perform a combination of the steps above, but also keep your ears perked for any new squeaks.
Squeaks always tend to return, but with a bit of maintenance and care for your floors, it may be a bit longer before they do. If you’ve done the above and their still squeaking, it might not be the laminate. Read our guide explaining if squeaky floors could be a structural problem.