Stopping squeaks

MATERIALS: Wood shims, 16d finishing nails, wood screws, drywall screws

TOOLS: Hammer, screwdriver, drill

Floor squeaks are usually caused by the floor flexing. They could be floorboards rubbing against each other, bridging pieces rubbing against each other below the floor, or even water pipes or air ducts rubbing against floor joists. Most often the root of the problem is a loose board, and the solution is a few well-placed ring shank nails or wood screws. When possible fix squeaks from underneath the floor or staircase. If the bottom of the floor or staircase is covered by a finished ceiling, work on squeaks from the topside. On hardwood floors drive finishing nails into the seams between planks to silence squeaking. Check pipe hangers, heating ducts, and bridging for rubbing and friction that can cause noise.

LAYING THE GROUNDWORK - We went next door to see the brand-j new wood floor in my neighbor's | living room. It was a beautiful thing, carefully installed, lovingly finished, in fact, it was perfect until you walked on it. The floor was a creaky, squeaky nightmare because they didn't make sure the subfloor was in good shape before they started. Took a lot of work to make it right. The subfloor would have been a lot easier to fix before the floor was down.

SQUEAKY FLOORS COVERED WITH LONGER-PILED CARPET CAN BE SILENCED by driving a nail or shooting drywall screw through the carpet and pad into the floor joist below. Drive the nail or screw head into the subfloor so that the carpet will lie flat.

Shimming The Subfloor

IF FLOOR JOISTS ARE NOT TIGHT AGAINST THE SUBFLOOR IN THE AREA THAT IS SQUEAKING, shimming may solve the problem. Wedge shims in the gaps between the joist and subfloor and tap them into place. Don't drive the shims in any more than is needed to close the gap: Driving them further lifts the floor and causes more squeaking.

Cleating The Subfloor

WHERE NEIGHBORING BOARDS ABOVE A JOIST ARE MOVING, A CLEAT IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN SHIMMING THE BOARDS INDIVIDUALLY. A piece of 1x4, wedged against the subfloor and screwed or nailed to the joist and the flooring above, will keep the subfloor from moving.

A TWO-BIT SOLUTION - If you're drilling pilot holes and driving screws with the same drill, changing back and forth between bits and drills can get old quickly. A multi-bit solves the problem. A magnetic socket that fits in your drill houses the screwdriver. The drills that come with the multi-bit also have an end that fits the socket. Changing from screwdriver to drill bit is a matter of popping one out and popping the other in.

Hardwoods are hard; that’s why they last for years. That also means they’re hard to nail through. Drill pilot holes to make the job easier.

Reinforcing Joists

SQUEAKING OVER A LARGE AREA MAY INDICATE THAT THE JOISTS BENEATH THE FLOOR ARE SHIFTING SLIGHTLY and providing inadequate support for the subfloor. Steel bridging, attached between joists, keeps the joists from moving side to side and stabilizes the subfloor.

Driving Screws

DRILL A PILOT HOLE THROUGH THE SUBFLOOR AND INTO THE FINISHED FLOOR. Have someone stand on the raised boards while you drive a deck screw through the subfloor to pull the loose boards down.

Surface Nailing

NAIL DOWN FROM THE TOP WITH 16(1 FINISHING NAILS when you can't get access to the floor from below. Locate the floor joists and nail directly into them—nails will solve the problem only if they catch a joist.

ANCHOR STAIR TREADS BY DRIVING NAILS INTO THE RISERS AT OPPOSING ANGLES. If the stairs will be covered by carpet, use flooring nails. If not, use finishing nails. On hardwood treads, drilt pilot holes for the finishing nails and then drive the nails into the risers. Drive the nails below the surface using a nail set, fill the holes with wood putty, then smooth even with the tread.

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