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Wood floors are some of the most durable flooring options available today, and they're one of the most common. However, one of the biggest downsides to having hardwood floors is their propensity to squeak. What causes this? And more so, how do you fix it? We researched the best way to fix squeaky hardwood floors coming. In this post, we will go over it with you.
There are quite a few reasons that can cause a floor to squeak. Here are the most common ones:
- The subfloors are uneven
- Temperature and humidity changes
- Foundation settling
- Issues with the floor joists
- Termite infestation
- Bad installation of floor or subfloors
- Water damage
Determining the cause for your squeaky floors is the first step that you'll need to take to get it repaired. Inspecting the floors or hiring a contractor to do this for you can help prevent the problem from occurring in other areas of your home. Continue reading to learn more about how to get rid of squeaking from new hardwood floors.
How do I stop my hardwood floor from squeaking?
Sometimes squeaky floors can be a sign of serious structural issues within a home. Other times, it can be due to temperature issues, bad installation, or warped joists. However, new floors shouldn't squeak when they receive traffic--this is more common with older floors. In any event, the problem is usually solvable, and in many cases, preventable as well.
Subfloors are uneven
If the subfloors in your home are loose or uneven, this can definitely cause the hardwood floors above them to squeak. Gaps between the subfloor and the hardwood floor will cause friction amongst the flooring joists, which is the squeaky sound that you hear when the floors are stepped on.
You can determine if this is the source of the squeaks by going to the floor beneath the squeaky floor while having an assistant walk on the floors above you. Be sure to have them walk on a specific area of the floors. Next, inspect the subfloor as they walk to see if it moves. If you see the subfloor bouncing or dropping even a bit, then this issue or issue.
If there is a gap, the easiest and quickest way to fix the gap between the subfloor and the flooring is to install wood screws from the subfloor into the floor to bring each closer together.
If you don't have access to the area beneath the floor, you can place a level on the top floor to determine if it's even. If it's not, chances are because the subfloor beneath it is also uneven. In which case, you'll need to pull up the top floor for the repair to even out the subfloor. While you can take on this project yourself, it may be best to have a professional contractor perform this task for you if you haven't any carpentry experience.
Temperature and humidity changes
As outside temperatures get colder, you're likely turning up the heat inside to stay warm. When this happens, the humidity in your home will drop by 10% to 15%. This can often cause the floorboards to shrink as they lose a bit of moisture. And as a result, the planks will rub against one another or the nails holding it together, causing squeaks.
The best way to quickly get rid of this issue is to increase the relative humidity inside your home. You can do this by purchasing a humidifier. Depending on how big your home is, you may need more than one humidifier to bring the entire home up to about 45% to 55% relative humidity.
If you have gaps between the subfloor and floorboards, the cold weather can also cause this to occur. You can add a bit of floorboard lubricant to the small spaces between the floorboards. You can find this at a flooring store or at a local hardware store for about $15.
If your home has just recently been built, the squeaky sounds coming from the floors can also be the result of the foundation settling. It's completely natural for a new home to settle onto its foundation for the first few years after it's been built.
This means that the dirt beneath our home may shift slightly, which can cause the floor structures to shift a bit--thus increasing the separation between the floor and subfloor. When this happens, the floors may squeak when weight is applied to the planks.
The best way to combat this type of squeak is to tighten up the space between the subfloor and top floor. You can use wooden shims, drill the floors closer together, or install planks beneath the subfloor floor.
Issues with floor joists
There could be an issue with your flooring joists if you notice that the squeakiness occurs all year round--and only in a few spots on the floor. To determine if the joists are causing the issue, you'll need to go to the area beneath your floor to take a look at them directly. If the joists appear wobbly or loose in any way, then you'll know that this is your issue.
To fix it, you'll simply need to tighten up the screws or nails holding them in place. But if the joists are damaged, they'll need to be replaced completely. This is a relatively simple fix that should get rid of the squeakiness immediately. You can also purchase a joist repair kit in some cases, as they'll supply you with all of the tools you need to repair the joists quickly.
Termites rarely attack hardwood floors; they instead will attack softer subfloors beneath them, as well as structural joists. Termites weaken your subfloors over time, and the weekend areas will begin to squeak when you walk over them. You may also notice a shallow sound in the areas that have the biggest infestation.
Termites create small and large cavities within your subfloors and baseboards, leaving these structures susceptible to potentially hazardous conditions if they are not mitigated. To get rid of the problem, you'll first need to tackle the infestation completely. If the damage is only minor, you may be able to repair the damaged areas with wood filler, and in other cases, new planks will need to be installed.
Improper Installation of floors or subfloors
If your contractor did a sub-par job installing your joists, subfloors, or hardwood floors, this could also cause squeaky noises from your hardwood floors. For example, if the contractor didn't nail down the planks correctly or placed them too close together, this can cause friction between the joists, the subfloor cut, and the hardwood floor, resulting in squeakiness.
In some cases, you may also notice the bowing or buckling of the joists beneath the subfloor. If the problem is a bad installation, you'll likely need a professional contractor to come and look at the floors to determine what areas of the work will need to be repaired or replaced completely. Keep in mind that if an installation issue causes the squeaking, you'll notice the sound all year round--and in the same areas.
If your floors have experienced significant water damage, this can also cause them to squeak. Water damage causes wooden floors to buckle. And it'll also cause the joists and subfloors to swell, creating additional gaps between the different areas. The best way to fix this is to replace any structures that have water damage. And while water damage isn't always preventable, it's always best to remove standing water as soon as possible.
Should I worry about squeaky floors?
More often than not, squeaky floors are more of a nuisance than a structural issue. However, they can definitely be a sign of serious structural problems within your floorboards.
If you notice the sounds are occurring throughout the year and sound very hollow, it's best to have a professional contractor come and take a look at the floors and subfloors. They should also take a look at the joists to see if you have any signs of termite infestation, such as rotting wood, or gaps in the subfloor.
Do hardwood floors creak more in winter?
Yes. Unfortunately, the dry air caused by the combination of the outdoor temperatures and the heating system in your home reduces indoor humidity levels, which can cause floors to squeak asked as it contracts. However, you can quickly resolve this issue by simply placing a humidifier in your home to increase relative humidity.
Can floors creak on their own?
It's rare for hardwood floors or subfloors to squeak on their own. Usually, the squeaking will occur when they receive any type of foot traffic. If a floor does begin to squeak on its own, the chances are that foundational shifts are taking place in the ground beneath the home, such as settling or other natural outdoor occurrences.
Wrapping Things Up
As you can see, there are quite a few reasons why your hardwood floors may begin to squeak when they receive traffic. However, these reasons are typically preventable and fixable. The first step is to pinpoint the areas where the squeaking occurs and then determine the underlying cause. Once you have this figured out, you can weigh your options on how to mitigate the issue.
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