LESLIE: Alright. Brian in Maryland has some squeaky, creaky floors. Brian, how can we help?
BRIAN: Yeah, hi. Thanks. I have a 51-year-old house and it has original hardwood floors and we had them redone. And they squeak really bad. And we don’t have access underneath to do it. So I’d rather not … I’d rather avoid nailing them, if possible. Is there any way to stop them from squeaking?
TOM: Do you have children?
BRIAN: I do.
TOM: (laughing) Those may come in handy, those squeaky floors.
LESLIE: (chuckling) As they get older.
TOM: It’s kind of like your early warning system when they come, you know?
BRIAN: Well, she’s six months old now so it’s really bad because it wakes her up.
TOM: Oh, okay. It’s working against you. Alright, let’s see if we can quiet them down. Now, the reason that floors squeak is because of movement. So the floorboards are loose and, in the case of hardwood floors, usually the tongues and the grooves that are in between those boards rub together or the nails that are holding the boards down can pull in and out of what they’re nailed to and make noise there.
The solution involves securing the floor to the subfloor and to the floor joist below. Now, you said you don’t want to nail it. Let me tell you how you can nail it strategically, though, so that you won’t see the nails and quiet down the floors. What you need to do is first, you need to identify where the floor joists are under the floors. And you would say, “Well, Tom, that sounds like a good idea but how exactly do I see through my floors, not having x-ray vision?”
LESLIE: With a stud finder.
TOM: With a stud finder. Because the stud finders, today, have the ability to see through floors and show you exactly where those joists are.
LESLIE: They’ll even show you where the joist begins, where the middle is and where the end is.
TOM: Exactly. Now, having identified those floor joists, what you want to do is to nail through those floors. But before you do, let me give you a little trick of the trade. Get a finish nail the size that you’re going to use – and, of course, we are talking about finish nails here; with small heads on them. Take that finish nail and insert it into your power drill as if it was a drill bit and use that finish nail as the drill bit to pre-drill the hole where the nail is going to go. The reason you’re using this and not a twist bit is because it tends to separate the fibers and not cut the fibers of the wood, making the nail a lot tighter when it goes in. Then you drive the nail in that hole that you just pre-drilled – at a slight angle, by the way; you don’t want to put it in completely straight. Put it at an angle because it holds better. Two or three of those in the area of the loose floorboard on each joist ought to make a huge difference.
Now, you’re … after you put the nails in – and you have to set the nail head, of course, below the surface – you can use any one of a number of different good wood fillers to fill that. I like the wax wood fillers that Minwax makes; they look like freezer pencils, where you peel the paper off.
LESLIE: China markers.
TOM: And … yeah, China markers. And you simply rub those into the holes until they fill up. And it becomes absolutely invisible; nobody will ever spot that when it’s done.
BRIAN: Excellent. Thank you. And, hopefully, now my wife will stop yelling at me for waking up our daughter.
TOM: (laughing) Alright. Yeah, you can stay out later now. (laughing)
LESLIE: Or you can learn to levitate. Either way.
BRIAN: Oh, thank you guys very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Brian. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.