Solutions for Squeaks

The second floor of our home has some very loud squeaks that can wake the dead in the middle of the night.  Besides the noise, I'm concerned that these might mean our floors are weak.
Shirley N., Lincoln, NE

Floor squeaks are annoying but rarely signal impending structural doom.  However, you don't have to put up with them.  First, realize that floors squeak because the floor boards are loose.  What you hear is the noise made by the friction of those boards rubbing together or the nails that are used to attach them being pulled in and out of the floor joists or sub-floor.  The solution is the same; the floors need to be re-secured to the structure of your home.

There are a couple of ways to do this.  If the squeak is under carpet, remove the carpet and re-attach the sub-floor to the floor joists with case-hardened screws.  A short-term fix without removing the carpet is to locate the floor joist with a stud finder then re-nail right through the carpet using a hot-dipped (the edges are rough and bumpy) galvanized finish nail.  Then pull the carpet up through the head of the nail. If the squeak is under hardwood floors, these can be re-nailed from the surface using finish nails driven into the floor joists, then set below the surface of the floor and filled with wood putty.