Stair creaking is an annoyance that seldom goes away on its own. The creaking noise indicate that the stair treads are no longer securely fastened to the stair risers. Stair creaking occurs as a result of everyday use, tread wood drying out, warping of the wood and house settling. This problem can be eliminated with the proper tools, materials and basic carpentry know-how.
Remove carpeting or other surface material from the stair treads.
Identify which stair tread is creaking by walking up and down the stairs. There may be more than one, so keep track of which ones creak with a small, but identifiable, pencil mark.
Locate which area along the width of the tread the creaking comes from by stepping side-to-side. Usually, creaking occurs along the leading edge of the tread where it meets the vertical riser. Mark the spot with the pencil.
Drill a pilot hole at the marked spot. Drill through the tread and into the riser using a drill fitted with the appropriate size wood-boring bit. Be sure to use a drill bit smaller than the screw intended for the repair.
Insert the tip of a wood screw into the pilot hole in the tread and tighten clockwise with the appropriate screwdriver. Have a helper stand on the tread as you tighten the screw to ensure the tread is held firmly against the riser.
Drill additional holes along the tread width as necessary if more screws are installed.
Check the stair tread by walking over its surface to verify that the creaking has been eliminated.
Repeat steps 4, 5, 6 and 7 as needed on the remaining stair treads.
Apply wood putty with a putty knife to fill screw hole recesses. Allow the putty to dry according to the manufacturer's recommended time.
Replace carpeting or other stair material.
If a riser is found to be loose, locate the stair stringers to which it is attached by the position of existing nails or screws. If creaking occurs in these areas, secure the risers to the stringers with the same method used on the stair treads. Wood screws bind stair treads and risers together securely when installed vertically. Finishing nails however, should be installed in pairs, each at a 45-degree angle to the other.