Remove Squeaks and Noise From Old Floors
LESLIE: Claude in Virginia’s got some unwanted squeaky sounds coming from the floor. Tell us about it.
CLAUDE: Well, it’s an older house. It was probably built in (clears throat) post-World War II and had some renovations done on it; putting in a complete bath … bathroom and a basement refinishing and so forth. But upstairs I get annoying creaks and crack sounds when people are walking and it’s because, I guess, the wood or the joists or something are old. And I didn’t know if there’s anything I can about it or do I have to live with it.
TOM: Do you have carpeting on the second floor?
CLAUDE: Yes, I do.
TOM: OK. So, the best way to fix a squeaky floor is to remove the carpeting. Now, it’s possible to tighten up the loose boards by working through the carpet, but it’s not nearly as successful. I’ll tell you both ways to do it. If you can remove the carpet, what you’re …
LESLIE: And not remove it permanently; just lift it back.
TOM: Yeah, pull it back in the area where the squeak is. You may have to have a carpet professional relay it if it’s, you know, wall to wall.
CLAUDE: It doesn’t matter because I … just so happens I have to replace it anyway.
TOM: Oh, perfect.
CLAUDE: I was just (inaudible) wood floors.
TOM: Perfect. This is the time to do it, then. When you get the old carpet up, what you want to do is you want to go ahead and drywall screw – use the long, harden screws; they’re about two-and-a-half inches long. We call them drywall screws, normally. You take them and you basically drill through the floorboards and into the joist below. So you’re going to attach all of the subfloor to the joist below and you want to do this about every 16 to 24 inches across that whole surface of the room.
LESLIE: Yeah, use a stud finder to find out exactly where those joists are and then go ahead and drive a bunch of screws in.
CLAUDE: That’s all I have to do?
TOM: That’s all you’ve got to do. Screw them down and then it’ll be nice and tight and it’ll be very, very quiet. And that’s the perfect time to do it; when you’re replacing the carpet or changing to a different type of flooring and that’ll fix it.
CLAUDE: Oh, great. I thought I had to like throw some oil and hope it seeps in or something.
LESLIE: (laughing) No.
TOM: (laughing) No, not quite that drastic. Simply screwing that floor down.
And by the way, for those folks that are listening that want to hear the tip about how to work with carpet that’s already down – you can take a finish nail – again, as Leslie said, use a stud finder to find the joist – you can take a finish nail; usually you want to use one that’s galvanized because it has a little bit of rougher surface and it’s a little stronger in terms of the friction. And you can actually drive it through the carpet, through the subfloor and into the joist below and then grab the nap of the carpet and pull it back up through the head of the finish nail until it disappears. And that will help tighten up the squeaky floors in that particular area.
LESLIE: Yeah, they’re squeaking because the two boards – being the subfloor and the joist – are rubbing together because whatever was holding them together initially has either backed out or the glue has dried up. And so that’s what you’re hearing; is the two pieces of wood rubbing against each other.
TOM: Exactly. And so, you can actually nail right through the carpet to tighten that up. Although I will say, it doesn’t work nearly as well as when you actually screw it down, which is what we recommend that Claude do.
Claude, thanks for calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT.