Fix Squeaks in a Hardwood Floor
LESLIE: Jeff in South Carolina is dealing with some squeaky floors. Tell us about it.
JEFF: This house, I had built four years ago. It has white oak, hardwood floors and on two outside walls, they’ve started to creak a little bit. It’s not the floor structure, which is Trus Joist high beams with OSB subflooring.
And I’m not sure if the subcontractor who put the floor, put down the rosin paper or not. I wasn’t there when they did that. So, this problem has really been ongoing; not just developed lately.
TOM: Alright. Well, listen, wood floors that are creaking in a four-year-old house is not the least bit unusual. Now, are these finished floors – like solid hardwood – or is it plywood that’s like under carpet or something of that nature?
JEFF: Oh, no, no, no. This is a white oak; Grade A, white oak, tongue-and-groove, yeah.
TOM: A white oak, OK. OK. So you’re going to have a fair amount of movement. What happens is, Jeff, you’re going to get some shrinkage when it first goes down; you’re going to get some movement. The nails that are holding that down to the floor structure are going to loosen.
You get two kinds of squeaks: you get a squeak where the tongue and the groove move together and rub together and cause friction and you get a squeak when the nail sort of moves in and out of the wood.
JEFF: I see.
TOM: Now, the only way to fix this is to secure the white oak boards better down to the subfloor and hopefully the floor joist below.
JEFF: So, basically, I have to face-nail them?
TOM: No, well, you could face-nail them or you could screw them with trim screws and you could plug them.
So, a trim screw would be a better option, because it’s a really tiny screw and it’s more firm and once you put it in, it doesn’t pull out.
LESLIE: It’d be more permanent.
TOM: If it’s a – kind of just one minor area, you can drive a finish nail. You’d have to predrill this but you can drive a finish nail – like a number 10 or 12 or even bigger – on a slight angle and make sure you go down through the oak floor and into the floor joist below and that will tighten that up.
But the best thing to do is to use screws and if you can’t get trim screws, you can use regular screws. You’re just going to have to counterbore it and plug it. So, it’s a bit of a wood-finishing project but I would tackle the noisiest, loosest areas first; secure those down and then move from there. But it’s going to be sort of ongoing. When you have a wood floor like that, it’s not unusual for it to squeak and those squeaks rarely mean that anything serious is happening structurally.
JEFF: So, I can either tackle the project or live with the squeak.
TOM: Pretty much. Yep. You can consider it charm.
JEFF: Well, folks, thank you so much.