How to Silence a Squeaking Floor

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Sheri

Subject: squeaky floor

I have lino on my floor, and it squeaks really bad!! I only have partial access from underneath. How can I fix the squeaks????

Hans

Subject: Squeaky Floors

It is also possible that the squeaks are generated at the butt ends of the floor joists, where they attach to the frame or ledger board. In newer construction the joists are often attached using metal hangers, u shaped straps of metal which are secured with nails or screws. When the house is new the joists fit tight, so there is no space between the end of each joist and the ledger it hangs from. Over time the lumber dries and shrinks a tiny bit, leaving a very small space at the end because now the joist is a little bit shorter. When you walk on the floor, your weight depresses the joist a little bit, and that movement means the end of the joist can rub ever so slightly against the ledger, making it squeak. You can determine that this is the problem if you have space under the floor and are able to get close to the area while someone walks around the floor where it makes the squeaking noise. If this is the issue, use a hammer to drive a thin shim into the space between the end of the joist and the ledger. You're looking to put it at the bottom edge of the joist.It may take a very thin shim but as soon as you do this the squeaking will stop, if this is the issue.

Zman bp

Subject: noisy wood floors

Would Gorilla glue help? between floor joist and sub floor??? Then try sprinkling baby power into the seams a couple hrs. later????

Jeffrey B

Subject: My dad gave me some advice

My dad gave me some advice when I put some new oak flooring down, when all flooring is up and your down to the sub floor, in my case 1x10 planks, buy 4 inch deck screws and put them about every 5 inches in the joists. I dont ever foresee squeaks in this house ever again.

teri willetts

Subject: Squeeky floors

you may want to check on the bridging between the joists....perhaps it was forgotten and not installed at all. Or maybe there isnt enough bridging.....that is what happened to us. My husband built the house and forgot to install all the bridging on the floor joists and we have major squeeks. I guess he will have to get under the house and install it now.....that is not gonna be easy.

Emmery Neuperger

Subject: squeaky floor

I get underneith the floor and use and artists palette knife (very thin blade) to work Gorilla glue into the gapbetween the floor and the joist. This glue expands/foams as it sets and is incredibly strong. Might give issues if you need to tear up the floor in the future but if your leaving it in place it works like a charm.

AD

Subject: WRONG

You are telling people to fix their squeaks the wrong way. You do not have to screw down into the hardwood floors into the subfloor / joists. That will leave giant screw holes and will unnecessarily ruin the look of your floors. Instead, go underneath the house or floor and screw shorter screws through the subfloor into the hardwood. Pick screws that will not protrude through the floor, and you will never know the area even needed repair.

John Lary

Subject: I own a 4-plex with squeaky

I own a 4-plex with squeaky upstairs floors. I solved the problem when replacing the carpet. I used deck screws (the ones with the six-pointed "star" pattern) to screw the subflooring to the joists. It was easy to see from the nailing pattern where the screws went. I put in a lot of screws, 4 inches apart for the edges of the subfloor 4 by 8 plywood panels, and about 8 inches apart in the middle of the panels. Problem solved. I expect the solution to be permanent, since the deck screws really hold down tight and went slightly below the surface of the subflooring. Do NOT use sheetrock screws -- they don't stop the squeek and they are slow to screw in. Took a weekend. Get yourself some good knee pads and a kneeling bench (it is a lot easier to get up from the floor by pushing on the handles of the kneeling bench). Take a hammer, too. You can hammer in the tips of a line of screws, then come back and screw a line of them in all at once.

Sheryl

Subject: Sweeky Floor

On one side of the bedroom the floor sweekys loudy and I noticed two screws coming from the ceiling in the dining area underneath that room. How should I proceed with repair?

Mike

Subject:

Mike Holmes of HG TV has a magazine. The latest issue has something about floors in it.

fred

Subject:

I believe they are referring to shaker shingles

Joan

Subject:

The baby powder method works great. I first used this idea several years ago in my 100 year old home on both the oak and pine floors.

Diane Weeks

Subject:

What about squeaky laminate wood floors? I get squeaks at certain times of the year due to weather changes. Will the powder work for these floors?

Jessy

Subject:

the baby powder trick worked for me, i learned it by accident, my son was a baby and we had a squeaky rocking chair next to the changing table, spilled baby powder on it on day, couple days later, i noticed the squeak was gone! i tried it on my unfinished wood floors on my 2nd story townhouse and within a few days the squeak was barely noticeable. but do be careful for several days, talc is VERY slippery on surfaces, but i guess that's why it works.

Bob

Subject:

if you can get underneath the floor have someone walk above to find the sqeaks,take a square toothpick drive it between the boards at the sqeak cut off the excess with wire cutters,works great and is cheap.

Steven

Subject:

I used the "Squeak No More" kit at our old condo - new construction, plywood floor under carpet, engineered I beams. It was useless - and I knew exactly where the beams were. I must have driven 40 of those into one beam and it never fixed the squeaking.

Chris

Subject:

Talc applied to floors is an Rx for a fall for the over-50 crowd. Don't do it! (friendly nurse)

C Reynolds

Subject:

"Dries with humidity"??? Is she kidding???

Nancy

Subject:

That's a lot of work for a creaky floor. I'd let it creak.

Vicki

Subject:

I saw a feature on diy about repairing squeaks in floors. 1) sprinkle baby powder into the cracks. Let it work in and re-apply as needed. 2)have someone stand on the squeaking area. Another person is in the basement locating the squeak. When located, place a shim between the joist and subflooring. I resolves, slim can be screwed into place and excess trimmed off.

John

Subject:

How to fix a squeaking floor: Don't. Call someone else to do it. Not too helpful...

Ricardo Melera

Subject:

Tom Macedo, What kind of singles? Wood, etc. Please let me know and I will try them and report back. Thanks

Laurie

Subject:

I agree with Tom Macedo: top-down is a horrible, kludgy way to fix squeaks on plank floors, or if there is good/refinishable hardwood under carpet. The original white oak in my 1920s house is in great shape, so I would definitely not want a bunch of wood-filler spots in it. Although I've had some success puffing talc into squeaky spots FROM UNDERNEATH, there are some recalcitrant places I will hire a professional wood-floor specialist to fix. The only way I would make holes from the top is if the construction is too cheap to matter, or the subfloor completely inaccessible.

Kathy

Subject:

Please BEWARE...I had very squeaky floors when I moved into my 35 yo townhome, and I hired a contractor to screw down squeaky locations on my first and second floors. For some time after that (but not before) I noticed a creaking sound at night in the loft area. Then after around a year or two I heard a colossal creak...like something snapped in two. I didn't hear the creaking anymore after that, but I did have a shift between the floors that shows on my wall.

Alan

Subject:

Another thing you can try on uncarpeted floors is talc powder along the seams. Works in and reduces or eliminates a lot of noise. Of course if the floorboards need to be screwed down, this is not the answer.

Chad

Subject:

I just used spiral nails, drove then through the floor to the sub-floor, and it worked just fine. Total cost: 75 cents.

TomH

Subject:

Get some short drywall screws. Go to the basement and drive the screws up through the subfloor into the hardwood flooring. Just make sure the screw are shorter than the thickness of the flooring and subflooring.

Bob

Subject:

Before spending any large amount of money, simply try sprinkling baby powder over the noisey area & let it seep in over the next week. Seems to work 50% of the time

Alan

Subject:

Another thing you can try on uncarpeted floors is talc powder along the seams. Works in and reduces or eliminates a lot of noise. Of course if the floorboards need to be screwed down, this is not the answer.

NJNorma

Subject:

If the floors are bare you can sprinkle baby power into the spaces. It will help the squeak of board against board.

Andy W

Subject:

Growing up in New England hardwood floors always squeeked. If there are gaps in the joints, sprinkle some baby powder into the gaps and after a while the squeek will go away

Paul

Subject:

If its a two story house and the prolem is on the 2nd story the first information is right on...

Troy

Subject:

i have wood floors put on a concrete slab that squeek what is the solution for that?

Alan

Subject:

The methods cited work very well - but only if the problem is as described. We have large joists on 24" centers. Some of the subfloor joints are not on the joists; it is these that squeak and the only possible fix would be to install either new subflooring or metal 'binder plates' to join the squeaking subfloor 4x8's.

Lorna

Subject:

For a quick, albeit temporary, fix, sprinkle baby powder onto the offending area and then sweep into the cracks. It works and you don't have to mar the surface or refinish your floors.

Robert

Subject:

I would have to agree with Mr. Tom M. A lot of Home Imp. Ctrs sell wood shims, for among other things handling squeaky floors, just tap with a rubber mallet between the floor joist and sub floor, gently and definitely not forcing the shim. After that just cut with a utility knife but do be careful utility knifes are razor sharp. The important thing to keep in mind is not to force the shim...

Brian

Subject:

But what options do you have when the entire 2nd floor bedroom squeaks because not enough bracing was used on the floor joists. The entire floor is apparently slightly moving when walking on. I've had people tell me to pull up carpet and flooring and reinforce joists and I have others tell me to take off the drywall from underneath, install plywood to the underside of the floor, then redrywall the ceiling.

steve the floor guy

Subject:

Use talcom powder in the cracks. Works 98% of the time.
Rub it down in the cracks and sweep off the rest...

Mikey

Subject:

Shingles are for roofs, not joists.

Gene

Subject:

An earlier posting by "Tom" suggested using shingles as a wedge between the top of the joist and the bottom of the sub-floor. I prefer to use "shims" instead. You can buy a bunch for very little money; they come tapered and are not as wide as shingles making them easier to drive than wider shingles. It really helps to have a helper on the carpet side of the floor while the worker is underneath. Easier to pinpoint the suspect areas. Use your cell phones or intercom on your wired phone to communicate with each other. This method assumes one has access via a crawl space or basement.

Sharon

Subject:

What if you have a squeaky floor covered with carpet, but it is over a basement? Is there an option for coming in from below? My house is from 1964.

Lee

Subject:

I've heard that the break away screws work really well on the right applications but like an above statement said it's a hit or miss with getting into the floor joists.

Kelly Fleming

Subject:

As a temporary fix for carpeted stairs and other limited areas, a little baby powder will drift down into the spaces and lubricate to stop squeeks and is easily vacuumed.

Mary Slover

Subject:

My husband used the above mentioned product and it did NO good at all. After using about 70 of the screws, it was time to call it quits and just live with the squeak!!

Carmen

Subject:

How about some tips on squeaky hardwood floors? We rent and can't do any screwing or real work on it.

Barbara

Subject:

Steve--
I want to work on my stairs from underneath--what kind of glue do you recommend?

Rich

Subject:

Steve,

Would appreciate more info on the stair fix. Just completed a renovation, but my General Contractor wouldn't touch the stair squeaks (recommended replacement...gee thanks).

Peter

Subject:

The $1.99 option is a liberal sprinkling of baby powder over the squeaky area. As you sweep it up, the powder gets between the noisy boards and acts as a dry lubricant.

Elise Van Allen

Subject:

The recommendation to install the screws right through the carpet is disturbing - I cringe at the thought of a baby crawling along the carpet, only to snag it's kneecap on a screw head.

Sally

Subject:

One simple solution is to sprinkle talcolm (list would not allow me to spell this correctly) powder where the squeak is--usually helps for minor squeaks.

Manchester

Subject:

Sprinkle talc from a hardware store along the squeaky floor and let it work its way into the squeak. Works like a charm!

Trish

Subject:

all my floors sqeak in my 1929 Sears house. Who do I call to fix it? in the VA area.

Tim

Subject:

I bought a house that squeaks all OVER the place. We were going to redo the basement so before covering the basement ceiling, I had access to the floor above (in MOST of the house). I used liquid nails and put it along EVERY joist the entire distance, and then toe nailed in screws. This fixed 99.9% of them. I have ONE spot in the kitchen I was unable to fix, but didn't notice till later.

The liquid nails filled space (like the shingles) and also secured the boards to the joists to keep movement from occuring

Gene Gorrin

Subject:

I have the same problem with squeaky hardwood floors. Mu house is 50 years old, and my family has lived in the house since 1970. Now I inherited the house after my parents' deaths. O'Berry Enterprises Inc. of Ringwood, IL (800-459-8428) makes the "Squeak No More" Kit mentioned in one of the prior posts, and also counter-snap screws for hardwood floors. The company also has You Tube videos for doing it yourself (search squeaky floors). I cannot get underneath the floorboards because of lower floor ceilings, so I have to rely on driving screws at the joist and between the joists from above. That requires locating the joists using a stud-finder. The problem is - it's difficult for a do-it-yourselfer who doesn't do much of that. You need a really good drill, preferably electric with a lot of juice to get through the boards. It's more difficult to drill the screws in from above than they make it seem in the video. I even called a floor professional and he refused to use that method - he would only work from below, which is impossible in my situation. He didn't want to chance ruining my nice floors from above. I'm going to give it one more shot soon myself - I've been putting it off all summer! If it's a choice between the squeaks vs. ruining my nice, refinished hardwood floors, the floors win and I'll live with the squeaks.

Greens

Subject:

Squeaky floor boards?
Try this first, it works.
Sprinkle talc powder or gold bond on floor and sweep it slowly back and fourth, working it in the joints.

Chase Fincher

Subject:

Along with fixing the initial squeak, consideration should be given to the cause of the problem. Often the cause of squeaky or cupped hardwood floors is high moisture in the crawlspace. If the humidity problem in the crawlspace is not properly addressed, then any repair will be temporary. Some steps to control crawlspace moisture include; fixing any plumbing leaks, installing a vapor barrier, installing a dehumidifier either temporarily or permanently. If you have squeaky or cupped floors, always suspect crawlspace moisture problems.
www.indoorairqcr.com

Carmen

Subject:

How about some tips on squeaky hardwood floors? We rent and can't do any screwing or real work on it.

Cristy

Subject:

Try sprinkling some baby powder on the culprits. Sweep the baby powder into the cracks. Add more as needed. You may need to repeat a few times to get the baby powder to really seep into the problem area. You will also have to repeat this process periodically, however it seems worth it--$2 baby powder and minimal elbow grease to thousands of dollars in repairs and ripping up your hardwood boards. Good luck!

Sharon

Subject: squeeky floorboards

You're absolutely right. Much more cost effective and works just fine. I've done it in several different places I've rented over the years. Presently we have to change the carpet in a house we own in PA and will be "fixing" the squeeks at that time.

Melanie

Subject:

Tom, Just an hour ago I walked across my living room floor and thought "there has GOT to be something to stop the squeaking!" I really like your shingle idea, and think it is actually within my minimal competency to try this. With my skills, drilling holes through my floors would not be a good idea...are you talking about a roofing shingle?? Thanks!

Wayne

Subject:

We only yesterday returned from England. While staying in a motel in Manchester near the airport, we discovered very loud squeaks in the floor. I solved one problem near the bathroom by stepping over the loose boards. They were loud and just wondered how the people on the 3rd floor handled it.

Brenda Jarrard

Subject:

We have had moderate success with Squeak No More kits which includes driver to screw the included break-away screws into joists. Available for carpet and wood floors.

Tom Macedo

Subject:

Your repair of squeaky floors is actually only partialy & barely correct information. The repair is very simple if there is a crawl space under the house. Tapping shingles between the subflooing and the joists will stop the squeaks. Those squeaks are very specifically from the subflooring ( old diagonal 1x6 ) moving up and down on the nails that, as you stated correctly, have space from shrinkage of the subflooring. Spraying WD40 may also help reduce the noise if squirted in that exact area. Shingles will always work to stop the subloor from moving up and down on that nail causing that horrible squeak. Screwing from the top is a hit and miss the joist proposition and ruining the hardwood floring with holes all over the place.
I would surely enjoy seeing a clarification of that repair process. contact me for further details. I have been a licensed C15 floor contractor in California since 1975 and grew up in the family business since 1947. I am also a respected NWFA Associate.
Thank you

Ernest Rios

Subject: squeaky floors

I have squeakly floors in the living room 15x20. What can I expect to pay for doing what you recommend? And what should I look for in a contractor who will do thete job? All contractor will say, I can do the job. How do I get a good one?

Steve

Subject:

To add to the answer above , there are some other tricks to the trade that can be done to the floors and stairs. Alot will depend on the situation of the problem. On the stairs , I saved a woman a thousand dollars before she replaced her whole stair case. A little special glue with the right tools , she was a happy camper. Steve

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From the wall street journal online:

"Etiquette and tipping experts agree that tipping a contractor and his employees isn't expected because contractors offer to do a job for you at a specific price. Any extra money they would want would be built into their bid. Also, it's a business relationship rather than one where they are performing a personal service for you like a waiter or a maid. But if the employees do extra jobs around the house, then experts say it is appropriate to tip a cash amount equivalent to the task; "tip gifts" such as cookies and drinks can count. "The key to tipping is whether or not it was outside the scope of what was normally expected," says Mark Brenner, author of "Tipping for Success!"

My opinion is that a little bit of courtesy (snacks, drinks, expression of appreciation etc.) goes a long way and upon completion of their work you feel compelled by a job well done to offer a little extra in the form of a tip - go for it, but do not feel obligated. 
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I agree with Ben, as usual. First, test your slab - put a sheet of plastic over it, at least 3 feet square, taped down to the slab all around - leave for 3 days. If the slab darkens with moisture, or there is any condensation drops on the underside of the plastic, you have a damp slab. If you have visible moisture or moisture discoloration at any time during the course of the seasons with exposed concrete slab, then you have a wet slab. Even just a damp slab can put several quarts of moisture passingfrom the ground through the concrete into the air per day, and a wet basement slab in contact with wster at its base  can generate as much as 10 gallons a day of air moisture - which means that pretty much anything placed on it WILL get damp enough to mildew or mold.

 

For a wet slab, a polished concrete or epoxy/polyurea surface is your best bet. Any other surfacing you put over it is likely to mold. Ceramic tile with waterproofing additives in the mortar mix can work if the surface is properly prepared for good bonding, and you use "plastic" thinset and grout rather than cement based grout. Basically has to be done the same way as for a gymnasium shower floor or pool deck to work right.

 

For a damp slab, assuming it NEVER actually gets wet either from high water table under it in wet season, or from surface flooding from foundation leakage, then you have several options:

 

1) As Ben says, Pergo and others make totally plastic flooring material in a variety of surfaces that can be put down on a smooth slab over a vapor barrier and totally inorganic plastic padding - looks like bubble wrap commonly. Does not guarantee mold will not form between the vapor barrier and the concrete. IF you use a snap flooring version, can be taken up if it gets saturated and dried, then put back in. Not so with glued or nailed versions. Some people also use snap or interlock together rubber or foam flooring over a vapor barrier, particularly in rec rooms, which can be taken up easily in event of flood. 

 

2) A vapor barrier under an inorganic pad as above, overlain with an open-weave backing synthetic fiber (nylon, rayon) carpet with NO natural materials in it, which has lots of breathing space in the weave can work. I have used open-weave backing short-pile 100% nylon carpet from Armstrong in my basement for about 30 years, with vapor-barrier floor paint but no plastic sheet vapor barrier or padding and never a mildew problem, even though the plastic sheet test did show a minor amount of condensation. The key is a breathable carpet and decent airflow in the basement.

 

3) Any other type of flooring - laminate, vinyl, hardwood, etc will act to xxxx vapor evaporation, so risk mildew/mold under them. You can put down a sealer on the concrete and a vapor barrier and frequently get satisfactory service in a low moisture slab - generally only ones that are at or above surrounding ground level, but you always have the risk of mildew, and if ever flooded are pretty much trash. If you use a sheet product, use plastic, not organic - so vinyl, not linoleum, for instance. I have successfully done asphaltic based vinyl tiles and vinyl sheet using asphalt adhesive - the 1970's method - on damp flooring without trouble, but you have to make sure the concrete is VERY well sealed first with multiple penetrating coats of sealant placed on ground concrete surface so there is open voids for the sealant to penetrate, then let sit a week or more untouched and unwalked on before putting down the asphaltic-bonded tiles or sheet. The key is to make sure the concrete is less permeable to moisture than the overlying material. If you use a non-asphaltic adhesive (because of smell issues or allergies), then I would recommend full-adhesion waterproof mastic, not spot-adhered or glueless, so there are no air gaps under the sheet to accumualte moisture and mildew.

 

4) Of course, in new construction, if a full edge-bonded heavy duty plastic liner is put in the bedding sand layer UNDER the slab, that can turn a potentially wet or damp situation into a basically dry one, allowing almost any type of flooring to be used, though I NEVER recommend hardwood over below- or on-grade slabs. Of course, in a basement, one should probably assume that at some point it will get at least partially flooded from foundstion leak or pipe failure, so polished or stained or coated concrete, tile, or removeable flooring is the most likely to survive that.

 

5) Another option, in pretty much either case if your ventilation system removes the vapor as fast as the concrete can supply it, is padless thick open-weave area rug with a "Miller Weave", "Open Back", "Berber" or "Rag Rug" construction - which have lots of air holes in the rug and backing to let the moisture through. Then if getting damp or floods, just roll up and take out to garage and drape over some elevated 2x4's across sawhorses to dry out. Again, start with good concrete sealing first - preferably deep sealant with compatible epoxy surface coat to minimize water transmission.

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I agree with your choice - this is about the only product that can realistically, for a large room, be taken out and cleaned up after a flood and reused, thouhg carpet can be if you strip it into smaller pieces to carry wet, AND you have somewhere to wash and dry it - that is usually the problem. However, bear in mind it still has to be done within about 2 days or mildew/mold will grow on it, and may or may not be totally removeable. My personal preferences - mostly because their products are consistent, the joints stay snapped together, and they are not overly soft (a problem with cheap vinyls) are Pergo, Tarkett, Armstrong. Whatever you buy, be sure it can come back apart - some plank products are not made with a self-adhering contact glue in the joints that prevent you from taking it apart again, and some brands their snap design, while maybe better at preventing joint separation, cannot feasibly be unsnapped without tearing or breaking it off. Also, be sure whatever brandname and product line you choose it 100% vinyl (other than the urethane surface protective layer) - many vinyl floor products have paper or fiber cores or other water-absorbing components. Remember that, on concrete, since it wicks soil moisture through it, you till need a 6 mil vapor barrier under the flooring and positively sealed all around the edges to avoid the risk of mold growing on the underside of the vinyl.
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Agreed.  If you have existing cracking in porcelain you need to know the cause first.  I don't know of any reputable contractor that would dare install tile over existing tile.  Also, any manufacturer warranties for defects would be null due to improper installation.  Did the contractor offer this solution or did you ask for it?  The mear fact that he is agreeing to or offering it tells me you need to leave this guy for someone who knows what they are talking about before he does only half the job which will have to be redone in the near future, costing you more in the long run.

I get so many calls from customers that were talked into a "cheaper" way to do something only to find the work very sub-par.  The sad part is they are out the money they spent in the first place along with the additional amount I have to charge just to undo what the first contractor did before I can do it right.  This floor could end up costing you double what it should if it's not done right.

Todd Shell
Todd's Home Services