You’ve likely experienced it firsthand at some point; squeaky floors are quite common, and many people just get used to them. The truth is, though, that your squeaky floor is sending you a message you may not want to simply ignore. Here’s what causes them and what you should do to fix the problem and enjoy silent steps once again.
What Causes Squeaky Floors?
Squeaky floors are typically caused by one main problem: loose nails holding your subfloor to the flooring joists. Homes that are relatively new have subfloors made of strand board or plywood, which is usually quite durable. These boards are nailed directly to the lumber used to craft the floor joists, whether you have I-joists or the more common 2×8 boards. It’s common knowledge that builders should use one nail every six inches around the edge of the subfloor board and one nail every 12 inches within the field itself. When these guidelines aren’t followed, the pressure you put on the floors as you walk can cause nails to work loose. The result is an audible squeak.
Carpeted Floors Squeak Too
Homeowners are often baffled when carpeted areas of their homes begin to protest under their weight. After all, if the floor is carpeted, how does this squeak occur? Whether you have hardwood floors, tile floors, or carpeting, those flooring materials are all laid on top of the subfloor, which is installed in your home the same way regardless of your flooring type. Although carpeting may muffle the squeak somewhat, it can and still does occur.
Mistakes Can and Sometimes Do Occur
Carpenters no longer carry around a hammer and a box of nails to build your home. They use air-powered tools like nail guns to make the job quick and efficient. While this is typically preferable because a home can be finished in about the quarter of the time it used to take, it also opens the door for human error. It’s easy for a carpenter with a nail gun to miss the mark by an inch or two, and in some cases, the gun may run out of nails before the carpenter even realizes it. Just one missing nail can create a very loud squeak.
Fixing the Problem
Fortunately, in most cases, resolving a squeaky floor isn’t impossible or too expensive. If you’re confident in your DIY skills, this job should be fairly simple. You’ll need to enter your crawlspace, and you’ll need to have someone inside the house hit the squeaky area of the floor with a hammer so you can find it. Your job is to remove insulation and make sure there’s no piping or wiring below the floor; your helper’s job will be to drive a nail to secure the subfloor to the joist properly. If you don’t feel confident, you can always call a construction crew, who should be able to finish the job in a single day’s work.
Squeaky floors are quite common, but they don’t signify an awful problem that will cost you thousands of dollars to fix. In fact, it’s usually just a missing or improperly placed nail, and replacing it is quite simple. Fix squeaks early on to keep other nails from working loose and to protect the integrity of your flooring.