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floor squeak

Floor Squeak Repair: Screws vs. Nails for Sub-flooring

We have squeaking sub-flooring in our hallway upstairs.  We have had the carpet pulled back and we are ready to make the floor squeak repair by puting screw nails through the sub-flooring into the floor joists.  How long should the screw nails be?

Our Answer

Squeaking floors can be super annoying.  Floor squeaks happen for a number of reasons but most commonly because the sub-floor gets loose. That flooring is often put down with a rosin coated nail called a "cooler".  The idea is that when the nail is driven the friction melts the glue coating making it less likely to pull out.  But in reality, the nails do move and because they are coated by rosin, create floor squeaks that can drive you nuts!

In your question you refer to "screw nails."  There's really no such thing.  You should be buying case-hardened drywall screws, that are at least 2 1/2 inches thick for the floor squeak repair. Once that carpet is pulled up, I'd screw down each and every sheet of plywood, using 4-5 nails for each floor joist running under each sheet of plywood.  If the subfloor is installed on 16" centers, that means you'll need at least 28 screws per sheet! The good news is that they can be easily installed with a drill-driver.  Be sure to screw down every single sheet that you can get to because I can guarantee that as soon as you fix one squeak and put the carpet back - another one will immediately pop up!




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Is There Any Way to Stop My Home from Settling?

Our 1937 built house just keeps on settling. I always have to re-adjust doors, entry, and interior. Is there any way to get a happy medium so I don't have to keep adjusting?

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Well, they don't build them like they used to and a 1937 house is probably pretty well-built. The problems with the windows and doors not fitting properly, sticking, and requiring regular adjustment may or may not actually be due to settling. It could just be normal expansion and contraction, which happens seasonally. If the doors and/or windows were not put in correctly, it's possible that they were installed too tightly. They may have a tight tolerance as a result, causing them to be unable to expand and contract with the rest of the building.

The first thing I would do is have a professional take a look at the installation of the worst ones. It's possible that they could be rehung in such a way as to provide a bit more space - around the door, for example - so there is room for the door to expand and contract.

Now, if you're seeing other evidence of movement in the house - like cracks forming above doors/windows, seams in the walls, or cracks in the foundation, I would be more concerned about the possibility of a structural problem. In that case, I would have the home inspected by a professional inspector. You can find one through the American Society of Home Inspectors. I would not call a contractor for this because they are just going to find a problem they would like to fix. Home inspectors don't have that conflict of interest. 

If the home is settling, there could be multiple reasons why this is happening. The most common of which is poor drainage at the foundation perimeter. Many times, water will collect around the exterior foundation of walls. They become weaker and will settle or move downward, forcing a realignment of everything in their path. This would be one easy thing for you to check. If the problem continues, I would definitely get professional help. The faster you get it fixed, the cheaper the problem will be.

Good luck with this project, and let us know how it goes!

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How to Repair Buckled Laminate Floor

We purchased our home this past winter in Northern NJ. Our den area has a floating laminate floor that looks like it was installed in the past 2-3 years and is in good shape. However, we just noticed that in one area of the den a couple of the boards are buckling upward, and have at least 1.5 inches of separation from the subfloor.  I've searched for solutions for a buckled laminate floor online. The two most common causes appear to be water damage or expansion of flooring improperly installed too tight to the exterior walls.  The floors have not been wet, so I suspect that the latter is the main cause. What would you recommend to repair the buckled laminate floor? The area is actually closest to our fireplace and there appears to be some chipping at the edge of the floor at the fireplace.

Our Answer

Laminate floors are a durable and beautiful option. But, if improperly installed, buckling can definitely occur. It sounds like that's exactly the case in your home! Repair is difficult because you essentially have to disassemble the floor from the outside all the way in to that buckled section. Then, replace the buckle boards and install the rest of the floor.

If you have some extra material, this could be a possibility. Before you start, I would recommend numbering all the boards you have to take off. This way, you know the exact order and can easily reinstall them after the repair. You could use a whiteboard marker, lumber crayon, or even masking tape with numbers written on top.

Of course, when you rebuild the floor, you want to leave at least 1/4" to 1/2" of space between the laminate floor and the baseboard molding. Cover that gap with shoe molding, which should be just deep enough to do the trick. If that's the only place you're seeing the buckling, I wouldn't bother taking up the flooring in the rest of the room. But, for the flooring that you have to remove and replace, make sure you remove that gap so it won't recur. I hope that helps, and good luck with the rest of the project!

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