Problem: Floors or stairs emit
annoying squeaks when stepped on.
Background: Floor or stair squeaks are common in
homes and are usually caused by floor components rubbing
against each other. Squeaks can be caused by floor
materials that have dried out and become loose or
separated. They may also be caused by loose X-bridging
between the joists, by gaps between the joists and sub
flooring, or by plumbing pipes or ducts rubbing against
What to do: First try to pinpoint the area of the
squeak and see if the problem can be fixed from below the
floor or stairs. Check to see if the squeak may be caused
by the X bridging lumber, which is used between the joists
visible in the basement. You may be able to correct this
by cutting away wood where the Xs cross with a handsaw.
Check and readjust any loose pipes or pipe hangers in that
area. If there is a gap between the joist and sub-
flooring, try driving in wedge- shaped shims above the
joist. The squeak may be caused by the separation of the
sub floor and floorboards. In this case, try driving
screws through the sub floor, into the boards above, to
draw the two together. (Make sure the screws reach only
about halfway into floorboards.) If this doesn’t work, try
using concealed nailing from above, or lubricating the
Special advice: Before driving nails through
hardwood flooring, drill pilot holes that are slightly
smaller than the nail size to avoid splitting. Start the
pilot hole at the edge of the board and angle it down and
toward the center of the board. When refastening stair
treads to risers from the top side, drive flooring nails
at an angle toward each other. In either case, you can use
a nail set to avoid marring board surfaces, and wood putty
to cover the nail holes.
Helpful hint: In some
cases you may be able to stop the squeak by using powdered
graphite, available at hardware or auto parts stores.
Spray the graphite into visible cracks in the area of the
squeak. This may lubricate the parts that are rubbing
together and stop the noise. Another option is to
reinforce the tread/riser joints with wooden blocks, using
construction adhesive and wood screws.