Thursday, February 6, 2014 3:59 PM EDT
Perhaps you have fond teenage memories of sidestepping the squeaks while tiptoeing in way past your curfew?
For those of us who no longer want to memorize the weak spots in our flooring, here are 8 techniques to fix the squeaks.
1. Wedge a Shim
If the squawking is on your main floor, and you have a basement, things should be easy.
Get somebody to walk over the offending area while you’re underneath. Once you’ve both identified the spot precisely, wedge a thin wood shim coated with carpenter’s glue between the subfloor (the base to your floor) and the nearest joist (the beam running across your house; usually exposed at basement level).
The best type of shim to use is an exterior wood siding one: it tapers more gradually than the regular kind. Use a hammer to drive it into the space between the joist and your subfloor.
For more support and to help your fix last longer, drive a drywall or sheet metal screw up through the joist, shim, and into the subfloor. Of course, make sure your screw is long enough to grab the flooring itself but short enough not to poke through on the other side.
‘Squeak-Ender’ is a widget tailor-made for the job. This little piece of hardware fixes the cause of the squeak by pulling the subfloor and the joist tightly together, to minimize any movement.
4. Above Ground Level
For second and third floor squeaks, (or a finished basement), there is no choice but to fix the noisemaker from above. The first step of course, is to locate the squeak as precisely as possible.
The first step of course, is to locate the squeak as precisely as possible. Ideally, you should weight down the board with free weights or a couple of helpers (you need approximately 250 lbs!)
The simplest fix – if not the prettiest – is to drill pilot holes and then fasten the board to the joists along its entire length using drywall or sheet metal screws (which work better than the nails that are probably currently there).
The joists run perpendicular to the boards. They are easy to find, because you can see the line of nails where the floorboards are attached to them.
If you have carpeted floors or cannot see the line of nails, you can use a joist/stud finder available at your local hardware store.
For good measure, you can drive in a few screws into the boards immediately adjacent on either side, following the joist beneath, as well as into the length of the initial board that is the root of the problem.
It may not be the prettiest, but it’s definitely the simplest way to DIY the problem.
For neater result, countersink your screws – drill them down so that the head of the screw sits below the surface of your board. Then fill the hole using a fill stick in the same colour as your floor.
5. Cheat with Glazier Points
If your squeak is coming from two floor boards rubbing together, try wedging glazier’s points (metal triangles used to install window glass) 6 inches apart, between the two boards. Use a putty knife to sink them as much below the surface as you can.
6. Talcum Powder: For the Lazy Among Us
Try silencing the squeak with a heavy shower of real talcum powder -- powdered graphite or powdered soapstone. Don’t use the cornstarch kind, and never be tempted to use flour unless you like roaches and rodents!
Get it right into all the cracks with a paintbrush or put a towel over the powdered area and ‘stomp’ it in.
This just might lubricate the wood enough to solve the problem (however, it’s no long-term fix as the talc will disperse or be sucked up into your vacuum cleaner eventually).
Tip: if you’re lucky enough to have gorgeous wax-coated floors, not polyurethaned ones, then your first step should be to try liquid wax between the boards. This may lubricate or fill any gaps, sufficiently to stop the problem without tools.
7. Humidity: Is it a Winter Thing?
If your floors squeak all over, and only when it’s very dry outside, try humidifying your house. A humidifier on your furnace will also keep your space more comfortable and reduce allergies.
8. There’s a Pro for This
Lev Remennik runs a Toronto company called Silent Floor Solutions (there are similar professionals all over Canada).
Using a variety of techniques, including a specially developed adhesive, they stabilize the entire floor structure.
Lev says, “Our goal is to cure the problem, which is loose structure. We sandwich loose layers, then we fill the tiny holes with sealers we blend ourselves for the right colour”. It’s a pretty fast process and – unlike many DIY fixes - you won’t be left with any visible screws or holes.