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How to fix squeaky floorboards :: Posted by: Admin on March 17th, 2013

Floorboards with support on joist

How to fix squeaky and creaking floorboards

You know how it is, you creep home late at night and head up to bed trying not to wake the family, then squeak the floorboards make a noise like the floor is falling through and wakes the family, not a good scenario but one fairly common I would guess.

If you suffer from squeaky and creaking floorboards it can not only wake the family as I jokingly mentioned above it can just be annoying. Well thankfully it isn’t too much of a problem to fix them for any handyman or DIY enthusiast.

Floorboards not on a joist

What causes squeaky floorboards

Squeaky floorboards are caused mainly by badly fitting boards. If the boards are taken up to run electrical cables or pipework and are not put back properly, or the boards nailed back using the old nails in the old nail holes which means the nails don’t have a tight fit on the board and allow for them to move and squeak. Sometimes the end of the boards are not sitting on a joist and can move rubbing against the floorboards next to it.

Another reason for squeaky floorboards is simply that the boards have dried out and the nails are no longer holding the board down tight enough or the boards have moved and are rubbing together, whatever the reason you should be able to fix the problem.

How to fix squeaky floorboards

The first thing to do is to remove the floor covering, or part of it if you can’t fully clear the room. Once the floor covering has been removed you need to tread the boards, walk around and identify the squeaks and creaks and mark the boards where the noise is with a pencil. Do this over the entire floor.

Now go back and look at each mark you have made and identify what the problem is, for just boards that are rubbing together, you can either remove a board and plane a little off the edge, or try adding some talcum powder or chalk dust between the two rubbing boards to help movement between the two boards.

If the boards seem to be moving around the nails at the end of the boards, you need to screw these down. Don’t just put a screw in though as you may go through an electrical cable or a pipe, you may have to lift the board to see what is underneath first. Remove the nails and drill pilot holes next too the old nail holes so not to split the wood and then put a screw in making sure it pulls the board down tight.

If the board is split at the end, you may have to replace that board, or you may be able to lift it and turn it round so the other end is under the skirting board.

If the end of the board isn’t supported on a joist you will have to lift the board and put in a support. This can be done by lifting the unsupported board and fitting a length of 2×1 (50mm x 25mm) under the boards, ideally fixing it to a joist with screws. If a joist isn’t near, screw through the floorboards under either side of the unsupported one fixing the support to the underside of the boards, then re-fix the previously unsupported board and screw this board into the timber support you have fitted.

Do I need a new floor

Depending on how the floorboards have been lifted and cut will depend on if you need to replace boards or not, as mentioned above you may be able to lift a board and turn it around so the damaged end goes under the skirting, or even under furniture that doesn’t move. On the whole squeaky and creaking floorboards can be rectified.

Floorboards screwed down

Floorboards on a joist

How to lift floorboards

To lift floorboards you can use a club hammer and a wide bladed chisel such as a cold chisel or by using a crow bar. Prise the board up from one side then the other, be careful not to split the board, once you have the board slightly lifted up lay a piece of timber underneath to hold the end up and continue working along the board and moving the timber support as you go. If the floorboards are tongue and groove, you will need to cut the tongue off first in order not to damage the grove on the board next to it.

Safety First

Always remember to check under the floorboards for pipework and electrical cables before nailing or screwing down the floorboards, this will avoid driving a nail or screw through them. It is always a good idea to mark on the floorboards where the cables and pipes run under the floor, you can do this by using a pencil or better still a permanent marker pen. By marking the floor you will know where the cables and pipes run if you remove the floor covering or wish to run new pipework or cables in the future.

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