How to Fix Noisy Stairs

Written by jonah morrissey
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How to Fix Noisy Stairs
Keep your stairs quiet by tightening loose stair treads. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Noisy stairs aren't a cause for alarm. Often, the squeak is the result of a loose stair tread. Stair treads can be tightened by hammering two nails at opposing 45 degree angles into the stringer. An alternative to hammering into the tread is to tap shims into the loose stair tread joints from the underside of the stairs. The latter option requires access to the underside of the stairs, which is not always an option for homeowners. Nail holes can be filled, sanded and touched up for a seamless and squeak-free repair.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Hammer
  • Box, finish nails
  • Nail set
  • Wood putty
  • Putty knife
  • Fine-grit sanding pad
  • Wood finish
  • Touch-up brush
  • Wood shims

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    Finish Nails

  1. 1

    Identify the squeaky stair tread or treads on your stairs. Hammer one finish nail at 45-degree angle that is pointed toward the front edge and one that is pointed toward the back edge of the stairway through the squeaky tread into the stringer on each end. Locate each nail approximately 2 to 3 inches in from the edges.

  2. 2

    Center a nail set on each nail head and tap it with a hammer to set each nail approximately 1/16 inch below the surface of the wood.

  3. 3

    Fill the nail holes with wood putty using the edge of a putty knife. Allow the wood putty to dry for 24 hours.

  4. 4

    Sand the wood putty flush with the surface of the wood using a fine-grit sanding pad in the direction of the wood grain.

  5. 5

    Touch up the filled nail holes with a matching wood finish using a small touch-up brush. Allow the finish to dry at least 24 hours before walking on the stairs.

    Wood Shims

  1. 1

    Find the noisy stair treads and assess them from the under side of the stairs.

  2. 2

    Slide a wood shim under each stair tread between the risers and stringers if there is a gap.

  3. 3

    Tap the shim with a hammer until it is tight at each gap. Walk up and down the stairs. Add more shims as needed until the stairs are quiet.

Tips and warnings

  • Fix loose stair treads as soon as you notice them. A loose stair tread can crack or break if it is left in disrepair.
  • Wear eye protection when working with wood.

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