Creaky floorboards can be a real nuisance, particularly late at night when every little sound is magnified. Whether you’re worrying about stepping on the wrong board and waking up the rest of the house, or hearing suspicious creaks that raise the prospect of intruders, it’s safe to say unwanted creaks are never ideal.
While most creaks are harmless, they can result from poor installation or disrepair which may cause bigger problems further down the line. It’s important to work out how to stop floorboards creaking as quickly as possible – after all, you don’t want to see your bed come crashing through the ceiling during breakfast!
Loose fixing nails
One of the most common causes of creaky floorboards is loose fixing nails – once these become dislodged, the floorboards are no longer firmly attached and rub against the joists underneath, giving rise to those irritating squeaks.
If the floorboard is in good condition this can be fixed fairly easily, as you should be able to replace the loose nails with screws placed into the existing nail holes, while if the floorboard is damaged you may need to create new holes for the screws. The new screws should push the floorboard down onto the joist, preventing any creaks.
What makes a floor squeak?
There are several causes of creaky floors; some are caused by general wear and tear, and some come down to poor installation.
The most common causes are:
- Friction caused by two hard surfaces rubbing together
- Incorrect fixings or joists that aren’t level
- Inadequate or uneven underlay
- Incorrect or loose nails securing the floorboard to the joist
- Floorboards that have got wet
- Movement within the floor
- Incorrect installation of a timber structure
- Floorboards that have not been properly acclimatised
Thankfully, there are a number of ways to stop floorboards from creaking – and to save your sanity! Read on to find out what to do if a squeaky floor in your home is getting you down.
Loose fixing nails
One of the most common causes of creaky floorboards is loose fixing nails – once these become dislodged, the floorboards are no longer firmly attached, which causes them to rub against the joists underneath, giving rise to those irritating squeaks.
If the floorboard is in good condition, this can be fixed fairly easily, as you should be able to replace the loose nails with screws placed into the existing nail holes. However, if the floorboard is damaged you may need to create new holes for the screws. The new screws should push the floorboard down onto the joist, preventing any further creaks.
The floorboard doesn’t connect to the joist
Some floorboards end up shorter than they should be, either through poor workmanship or in order to access pipes and cables beneath the floorboards. This can lead to creaking, as the edge of the floorboard has no support and rubs against the adjacent board or joist.
Although this is an exceptionally complex issue – particularly if you have carpets, which you may need to pull up to gain access – there is a solution.
Installing timbers below the floorboard (you will need to cut a section of the floor in order to do this) will give the board something to sit against, preventing it from moving freely. This should minimise the possibility of creaking as the floorboard ultimately remains fixed in place.
The floorboards aren’t fixed down properly
If a floorboard hasn’t been fixed down properly, you’ll find that it creaks whenever someone walks on it – the ultimate annoyance for high traffic areas in the home. This is due to the friction it causes between the floorboard and the adjacent board every time someone steps over it.
Thankfully, this is a quick fix – as with the loose fixing nails mentioned above, you simply need to drive additional screws into the floorboard, securing it tightly to the boards below. This ensures the board stays in position, so it shouldn’t creak anymore.
The joist is too low
One potential cause of creaking floorboards is that the joist is too low. In this scenario, the nail does not push the floorboard down tightly enough to the joist, leading to creaks as the board moves up and down when stepped on and off.
This issue can sometimes be solved by securing the board tightly to the joist with longer, more robust screws. However, if this is not possible, you should be able to fill in the gap with timber and re-apply the screws, removing the gap and thus preventing the likelihood of annoying creaks and squeaks.
Badly-installed joist ends
If your joist ends haven’t been fitted tightly enough together, friction can occur between the timbers, inevitably leading to creaking. To solve this issue, you will need to replace them with better fits, or strengthen the area with additional fixing or wedges. In doing so, you will secure the whole structure (floorboard, joist and timber) and remove any unnecessary gaps – hopefully removing the possibility of moving parts which can creak.
Need some guidance? We’re here to help
Although we’ve given you a few DIY solutions which should help you to get rid of those pesky creaky floorboards, there are certain situations that will sometimes require expert help.
At Donnelly Watson, we work alongside a host of professional carpenters, builders and craftsmen, and boast over 30 years’ experience in the flooring industry. So, if you’re suffering from creaking floorboards and want them fixed quickly and at a reasonable price, get in touch today and we’ll have one of our experts take care of it for you.