LESLIE: Nate in Wisconsin has a flooring question. How can we help you?
NATE: Hi there. I have a hardwood floor throughout our bedrooms in our house and have some squeaking issues, especially with the floor in my infant son’s room. It actually squeaks loud enough that it’ll wake him up if we walk into the room when he’s sleeping.
TOM: Oh, boy.
NATE: I’m wondering what I can do to fix that.
TOM: Alright, so this is a finished hardwood floor?
NATE: That’s correct.
TOM: OK, so you have to identify where the loose floorboards are because that’s what causes the squeak and there’s two ways that you can fix this. You can – you have to resecure those boards down. You can do that with finish nails or you can do it with a screw but you have to predrill the area and create a counterbore for a wood plug. And there are drill bits that are available that basically do all this in one step and there are wood plugs that are available.
What I would do first is I would get a stud finder and I would scan across the hardwood floor to make sure I know that I’m on top of the floor joist. And then you can start by trying this by using finish nails. I would use like a #12 finish nail. I would pilot drill out a hole because you can’t just nail right through the hardwood; the nail is going to bend. So you want to pilot drill a hole that’s slightly narrower than the finish nail and then you want to drive that in at a slight angle because that tends to hold better. And then, if you do that in a couple of places – and you’ll notice the floor starts to quiet a bit – now you know you’re on the right track.
Once you’re convinced you’re on the right track, then what I would do is I would drill out the floor; I would add a couple of long screws to hold it down nice and tight – you may only have to do this every other board; then you could glue in a wood plug – you can oak plugs that, say, are a 1/2-inch or 3/8-inch in diameter; you can grab a chisel and carve it flat; sand it a little bit; touch it up with a dab of polyurethane. It’ll look somewhat obvious when you first do it but give it a few months; the color will fade and it’ll all blend in nicely together.
NATE: OK. There’s no option for doing anything from underneath; like putting a weight from above and running screws from below?
TOM: What’s under the floor?
NATE: I have bare joists below. We’re in the lower of a duplex.
TOM: Well, if you’ve got bare joists below and somebody could walk on the floor and you happen to see that there are spaces between the subfloor and the floor joists, then perhaps.
TOM: But typically, the floor squeaks are caused by the nails moving in and out of that hardwood floor or moving in and out of the subfloor and nothing short of stabilizing that is going to stop that squeak from happening and it’s easiest to do that from the top. I’ve fixed a lot of floor squeaks over the years and, believe me, it’s easier to do it from the top than the bottom.
LESLIE: And when you have more sleep, you’ll be far happier; I promise.
TOM: Exactly. (Nate chuckles) You and your baby son.
NATE: Alright, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Nate. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.