It can happen with any floor, old or new, and it’s the number one question to The Money Pit: How do you stop a squeaky floor?
The squeaks come from loose floor moving as you walk over it. Seldom does it mean a structural problem; rather, the sound stems either from two loose boards rubbing together or from nails that hold down the flooring moving in and out of their holes.
The solution in either case is simple. Surprised? Here’s the deal: you need to re-secure the floor to the floor joists (a.k.a. the beams underfoot that floors are nailed to). If the squeaks are coming from under a carpeted surface, it’s best to remove the carpet and drive hardened drywall screws next to every nail in the floor. Screws never pull out, so they’re a great solution against future squeaks.
If removing wall-to-wall carpet is too much for you to tackle, you can leave it in place and use a stud finder to locate the floor joist beneath the carpet in the area of the squeak. Once you’ve done so, drive a 10d or 12d galvanized finish nail through the carpet and subfloor and into the floor joist. Make sure to drive the nail in at an angle to prevent future loosening, and drive in nails in two or three positions at the source of the squeak. Finish by grabbing the carpet by the nap or pile, and pull it up until the head of the finish nail passes through it.
If you’ve got a squeaky hardwood floor, the same procedure applies ─ it’s just a little trickier because you’ll have to blend repairs into the existing surface. Once again, use a stud finder to locate the joists in the neighborhood of the squeak (they’ll be sitting 1 to 1 ½ inches under a hardwood floor, so a “deep scan” stud finder will work best). Either screw down or re-nail the area as suggested above for carpeted flooring, pre-drilling the holes. If screws will be used, a bit that includes a counter-bore is ideal because it’ll leave a hole that’s exactly 3/8” in diameter and perfectly sized for filling with an oak plug. And if you’ll be nailing the floor, be sure to use a drill bit that’s slightly smaller in diameter than that of your finish nails.
Although a squeaky floor is a very common issue and rarely points to a structural problem, it can certainly drive you crazy. Luckily, the solution is simple, and you can restore peace and quiet to your home in fairly short order.