How to stop creaky floorboards

Written by kimberly johnson
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Creaking floorboards can occur in flat areas of a floor or in the stairs. Although minor squeaks and creaks are no cause for concern, they are often annoying to the homeowner. The creaks are caused by a variety of things, but most often are the result of nails that loosen and rub against the wood. Stopping floor creaks is a task that most homeowners can accomplish themselves, if they set aside several hours for the project.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Joist-finding screw
  • Tape measure
  • Scored screws
  • Wrench
  • Wood filler
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood stain

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  1. 1

    Walk along the entire surface of the floor and stop when you come to a spot that creaks. Place a small piece of tape on the floor to mark the location.

  2. 2

    Tap a hammer solidly on the surface of the floor surrounding the squeak. Listen to the sound that the hammer makes and stop when it sounds like a dull thud, which indicates that you have located a floor joist. A floor joist is a thick wooden beam that holds up the plywood of the floor.

  3. 3

    Insert a joist-finding screw into a drill just as you would a drill bit. The pointed, threaded end of the screw will be facing away from the drill. A joist-finding screw looks like a very long screw with a smooth middle section.

  4. 4

    Insert the tip of the joist-finding screw into the surface of the floor where you believe the floor joist is located. Turn the drill on and press down firmly on it to insert the screw into the floor. If the screw slides easily into the floor, you have missed the joist and should reverse the drill direction to remove the screw. When the screw feels solid and does not move up and down, you have located a joist. Remove the screw and mark the location with a piece of tape.

  5. 5

    Place the end of a tape measure at the location of the first joist and stretch it out 16 inches. This is the location of the next joist, and you should mark this with another small piece of tape. In some older homes the joists may be as far as 24 inches apart. Use the hammer to tap the area and listen for another dull thud.

  6. 6

    Insert a scored screw into an electric screwdriver and place the tip of the screw against the floor. A scored screw has a thin cut around the top of it, called a score. This weakens that area of the screw, making it easy to break off the top for a clean look.

  7. 7

    Stand with your feet as close to the screw as possible, so that you are pressing down on the flooring. Turn the screwdriver on and insert the screw into the flooring until the score line is level with the floor.

  8. 8

    Place a wrench tightly around the top of the screw head. Twist your hand backwards quickly to snap off the head of the screw.

  9. 9

    Insert a screw into the other floor joist if the squeak is still present.

Tips and warnings

  • If the floor is made of wood, drill a pilot hole into the wood floor and countersink the screw head. Place wood filler on top of the screw and allow it to dry. Sand the wood filler down and stain it to match the colouring of the wood floor.
  • There are several squeak repair kits, available at most hardware stores, that contain specialised tools that make the repair even easier.

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