Silence is one of the best features a flooring product can boast. Nothing is more unpleasant than the jarring cacophony of underfoot wailing and screeching as you walk across the hallway at night while the rest of the house attempts to sleep. Creaking floors are not at all uncommon, but they can be an annoyance in homes where tranquillity is valued. Thankfully, it is possible to stifle squeaky floors if you are desperate for a temporary fix.
Are Squeaky Floors Always a Structural Issue?
A noisy floor is not usually a sign of structural damage or issues such as termite infestations. Generally, the only harm it causes is an annoyance for the members of your household. Unless your floors are bending and bowing under the weight of your feet, your flooring probably won’t collapse beneath you. There are various kinds of flooring, and each will have its reasons for sounding off – as well as a unique fix or two that will silence them. Below, we get into the most common kinds of squeaky floors and what the issue usually entails.
Hardwood Floors that Sound Rickety
When it comes to squeaky floorboards, solid wood flooring is usually the culprit. Small squeaks are normal and even expected, but if the sound starts bellowing throughout the house, finding an urgent fix may be a good idea. The reason why hardwood makes such a racket is often because of vertical movement. These sounds can sometimes be traced back to improper installation, where an uneven subfloor was not properly levelled. Uneven underlays can also lead to issues. Excessive moisture is another problem, where planks were not properly acclimatised before installation. Wood absorbs moisture, which leads to expansion and causes planks to rub against each other and squeak.
Noisy Engineered Wood Flooring
Much the same as hardwood planks, engineered wood flooring will succumb to creaking underfoot if the subfloor is uneven. Engineered wood planks are, thankfully, easier to remove than hardwood planks, so it should be possible to have a professional come in and sort the issue out quickly. Expansion gaps while installing are also essential, but if you find that these gaps are too small, you can still lift the planks and trim them.
Wood Laminates Creaking Beneath Your Feet
Wood laminates are not as prone to moisture damage or swelling as hardwood and engineered wood, but it can still happen. Without proper expansion gaps during installation, you’ll have squeaky flooring to fix. This product is moisture-resistant but won’t fare well in very humid environments. Make sure that the substrate floor is completely level too, or you will need to remove the laminates and have your subfloor remedied.
Luxury Vinyl Tiles that are Improperly Installed
When installed incorrectly, luxury vinyl tiles and planks can also make noise. Poor flooring materials are another issue. Like other forms of flooring, they require expansion gaps during installation. The subfloor should also be completely level and flat to avoid creaking.
Carpeting is an Unlikely Culprit
The least likely to cause noise in need of a fix is carpeting as it does not require any expansion gaps. If your carpets do make noises when walking over them, likely causes are floorboards (when you’re higher than the ground floor), your subfloor, or your underlay.
As you can see, proper installation from the get-go is essential to ensuring your floors perform as they should. While other kinds of flooring may be easier to fix due to easy removal and re-installation, hardwood flooring is particularly tricky. If you don’t want to call in the professionals just yet, then there are five, easy ways to fix squeaky floor planks:
- Using a thin, wooden shim: If you have access to the space beneath your floor, look for gaps beneath the joists and subfloor. By wedging a thin shim between this space, you close the gap, which will reduce creaking. Be careful of using too much pressure or too thick a shim, however, as this may make the gap larger.
- Powdered graphite or talcum powder: If you don’t have access to the joists beneath the floors, a dry lubricant like lock lubricant, powdered graphite or talcum powder can be sprinkled into the joints between the boards to fix squeaky floors. Walk back and forth over the planks to work the lubricant between the cracks, so that the friction between the planks is reduced. This solution may not last long, however, and repeated applications will be required over time.
- Fast-set construction adhesive: Sometimes the gap between the joist and subfloor is too long for a small shim, so a construction-grade adhesive applied with a caulking gun is another way to secure these spaces and fix those squeaky floors. Again, this solution is only viable if you have access to the underside of your floors.
- Nail boards along warped joists to stabilise them: Joists are also made from wood and can warp or twist with moisture changes. You can stabilise your joists by fitting wooden blocks between them to maintain snug pressure that keeps the joists in place. If warped floorboards are your problem, they too can be stabilised by attaching a plank to both the joist and the subfloor, anchoring them together with construction adhesive.
- Screw through the underside or from above: For a loose subfloor, one can secure the subfloor to the floors by screwing or nailing them together, either from below or above.
Lastly, the best way to fix squeaky floors is to get in touch with an industry professional who will remedy the issue for you.
For more advice on flooring issues and how to ensure a seamless installation, be sure to contact us today.