7 Causes of Squeaky Floors

by Michael Franco
Vinyl floor detail, oak decor. abstract wooden background

Squeaky floors. While they can always signify that someone is walking into the room, they’re often a sign of an underlying issue, which, if left unaddressed, can lead to further problems.

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Understanding the underlying causes for squeaky floors is crucial to help eliminate the noise. Whether due to humidity changes, inadequate installation or structural shifts, there are various solutions available. By pinpointing the specific issue and applying appropriate remedies, you can restore tranquility to your home and enjoy squeak-free floors once again.

7 Reasons Your Floor Is Squeaking

1. Humidity Changes

The Problem

Fluctuations in humidity levels can cause wood to expand and contract, leading to squeaky floors.

The Fix

  • Humidifier or dehumidifier: Depending on the climate, installing a humidifier or dehumidifier can help maintain consistent humidity levels, preventing the wood from swelling or contracting excessively.
  • Seal the gaps: Sealing gaps between floorboards during periods of extreme weather to reduce the impact of humidity changes. You should also ensure that your crawl space or basement is properly insulated and sealed to keep dramatic fluctuations in humidity levels to a minimum.

2. Loose Subfloor

The Problem

A loose subfloor can result in movement between layers, causing friction and producing squeaks.

The Fix

  • Screw down the subfloor: Identify loose areas of the subfloor and secure them by driving screws through the subfloor and into the floor joists. This is best accomplished from beneath the flooring if you can access it from the basement or crawl space.
  • Adhesive: Apply construction adhesive between the subfloor and joists to eliminate movement.
  • Additional blocking: If you notice significant stretches of space between your joists and subfloor, you may want to re-support the subfloor by affixing 2x4s to the joists, ensuring that the lumber is seated tightly against the subfloor.
  • Commercial products: You may also want to consider a product known as a Squeak-Ender, which provides an easy way to re-attach your subfloor to the joists.

3. Loose Floorboards

The Problem

Individual floorboards may become loose over time, leading to creaks and squeaks when walked upon.

The Fix

  • Re-nail or screw: Secure loose floorboards by re-nailing or screwing them into the subfloor or joists. You can do this from below if you have access by using very short screws to go through the subfloor into the floor itself. Be sure the screws are short enough to grab the floor, but not so long that they come out the other side. You might want to do a trial run beneath an inconspicuous spot such as inside a closet.
  • Squeak no more: If you can't access your flooring from underneath, you can try the screw method from above, using a product called Squeeek No More that uses special screws that break off to become level with the floor.
  • Powdered graphite: Another option from above would be to sprinkle powdered graphite between the boards to reduce friction and eliminate squeaks. After you sprinkle the graphite, cover with an old towel and walk across the area several times to work it between the floorboards. Vacuum up any remaining powder when finished.

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4. Subfloor Gaps

The Problem

Unlike a subfloor that is completely loose from your joists, some squeaks can be caused by occasional gaps between the subfloor and the joists.

The Fix

  • Bracing: Reinforce the subfloor by adding braces between joists to prevent separation. To make the braces, use the same size lumber as your joists and cut to the length of the space between the joists. Put the braces between the joists at a 90-degree angle using screws and construction adhesive.
  • Shims: An even easier way to deal with gaps in the subfloor is to simply coat wood shims with wood glue and slide them between the subfloor and joists to eliminate gaps and reduce movement. Be sure not to hammer the shims in or force them beyond the place where they simply fill the gap, because doing so could raise the floor and cause damage.

5. Inadequate Fasteners

The Problem

Inadequate or insufficient fasteners during the flooring installation process can result in movement and noise.

The Fix

  • Additional fasteners: Add screws or nails strategically to secure the flooring and reduce movement as described above.

6. Aging or Settling of the House

The Problem

Over time, houses may settle or experience natural structural changes, leading to squeaky floors.

The Fix

  • Localized repairs: Address specific areas with squeaks using remedies like additional fasteners or shims.
  • Professional inspection: Consider a professional inspection to identify any broader structural issues that may require attention.

7. Flooring Wasn't Acclimated Properly

The Problem

When flooring materials are not acclimated to the environment before installation, they may later expand or contract, resulting in squeaks.

The Fix

  • Proper acclimation: Many of the other fixes mentioned above can also deal with squeaks being caused by poorly acclimated flooring. To avoid such problems in the future, allow flooring materials to acclimate to the room's temperature and humidity before installation. This can prevent future issues with expansion or contraction.

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Elocal Editorial Content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Editorial Content should not be used as a substitute for advice from a licensed professional in your state reviewing your issue. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the eLocal Editorial Team and other third-party content providers do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of eLocal or its affiliate companies. Use of eLocal Editorial Content is subject to the

Website Terms and Conditions.

The eLocal Editorial Team operates independently of eLocal USA's marketing and sales decisions.

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