Squeaky floors might help you hear kids trying to sneak in past curfew, but that’s about as far as their benefits go. Any old house is bound to have squeaky and creaky floors: it almost comes with the territory. Perhaps there is some serious damage to the floor paneling, or the boards are no longer attached to the surface beneath. This does not mean you have to live with this problem, however!
You shouldn’t choose to live with this issue, either: a squeaky floor might be a sign of a bigger problem. If you don’t want to replace or repair your entire floor, you should act quickly to avoid a big bill! Getting rid of squeaky floors does not have to be an impossible process. Read on to find out more!
Sometimes the best way to solve this problem is to get some professional help. If you have carpentry skills, however, you can likely handle this problem yourself.
1. Identify the problems
Wood floors wear out over time, with a combination of age, temperature changes, and the stress of people walking all over them. What a life! Wear and tear reduces the stability of these boards, which eventually makes the squeaking noises. There are several solutions you can follow:
Loose nails are common culprits for squeaky floors. As panels move under weight over time, this causes the disconnection of floorboards from the floor joists. You need some long sturdy nails to reattach the boards firmly! You might also find that keeping on top of your varnish application can help strengthen the nail’s grip in the wood.
Floorboards and joists tend to shrink over time as well. Temperatures and atmospheric pressures can create gaps between your floorboards. An easy fix is to apply wood filler in these gaps, which will help hold the boards sturdy and get rid of the squeaky floor issue!
Sometimes your boards might be beyond saving, especially if they are warped. You often have this problem with wood that frequently gets wet, or wood going through constant atmospheric pressure changes. Replace these boards, and check the joists as well when you are doing so to make sure they can hold your weight.
2. Put some extra nails in
A common way to reinforce just about any woodworking project is with more nails or screws!
Adding more nails or screws should help you steady the boards and strengthen the joist foundation. If this step is ineffective, you may need to take the floorboards off to realign them. If they are too warped, consider replacing them altogether.
3. Apply some lubricant
If you have floorboards rubbing against each other, you can get rid of some of the friction by applying some lubricant between the cracks. Try putting some baby powder between the cracks to help smooth out the edges and hopefully remove the problem.
If baby powder does not work, try some graphite powder instead. Walk over the seams several times after trying either solution to make sure the powder reaches the bottom sections of these floorboards.
4. Re-up on your varnish
Sometimes all your floor is a nice new sheen of varnish! Varnish protects your floorboards to help protect their lifespan, but it also thickens the boards and helps seal any gaps that are proving squeaky.
Apply several coats of varnish to your floor. If this does not work, it might be time for some more serious measures:
5. Replace the squeaky boards
As suggested, sometimes boards are simply too warped for you to do anything with them. If this happens, you might be best off to consider new flooring alternatives.
Visit your local lumberyard to help find a flooring solution that works best for your particular situation. You do not always need to replace the entire floor: sometimes you just need to remove the offensive boards to get rid of your squeaky floor, if the problem is isolated to one small area.
After removing these boards, attach the new boards using long finishing nails or screws. Apply wood filler into any gaps you might still have. And, after installing wood filler, coat them with varnish to help extend their life. You might consider using some wood stain as well to help match the colour of the new boards to the existing ones.
6. Strengthen your joists
If you are already replacing some boards, consider strengthening the joints underneath in the process. Joists weaken over time when they have to support so much weight. This causes the boards to loosen and rub against each other. To get rid of this pressure, install blocking or bracing supports between the existing joints.
Installing these extra joints might require you to take the floor up, but the extra foundation strength for your joists is worth the work.
7. Replace the joists
Sometimes replacing floorboards is not enough: you have to take out the joists as well. At this point, you might need to consider installing an entire new floor.
Any broken joist significantly weakens the strength of the entire floor. If this is in a high traffic area, the consistent carrying of human weight might make the floor give out at any time. When in doubt, take up some floor boards to investigate what is going on!
Unfortunately, installing new joists is no joke! To do so, you will likely need to take off several connected boards, if not the entire floor. Replacing the broken joist requires that you affix it to all of the boards that that joist connects to. If you need to take out more than one joint, you might end up removing your entire floor. Hiring some professionals to help with this process might make this process more manageable!
Getting rid of a squeaky floor usually takes a little bit of work, but having your floor back to its normal self is worth the time investment. Fortunately for you, you can try several different solutions if you have this problem with your wood floor! Follow whichever solution works best, and you should be well on your way to success. When in doubt, of course, you should always consult a professional. Weak floors on a second or third story of a building can cause some serious trouble!