5 Things Your Floor Says When it Squeaks

It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for since that first triple digit day – fall! That glorious time when there’s a nip in the air, we pull out the jackets, keep the coffee pot running, and use inordinate amounts of nutmeg and cloves in our treats. And.. sometimes begin to hear a squeaky wood floor in our homes.

As temperatures start to cool, humidity levels outside and inside also shift from balmy to dry. When you turn on the heater, even more air moisture is lost and if not replaced, your floors can start to tell you about it in a very audible fashion.

So, grab your pumpkin spice latte and find out what your floors are telling you when they start squeaking.

1: Something is Moving

The easiest fix for a squeaky wood floor is to stop walking on it. That isn’t realistic but it indicates the root problem with this issue is there is movement somewhere. Once you figure out where the movement is coming from, you will be able to quiet down your floors again. Find out why your floor is moving here.

2: I Need Some Attention

Squeaks and creaks are a normal part of having hardwood flooring. But when you notice that squeaky wood floor, take a few moments to listen to what your floor is saying.

Always know your home’s RH levels. Hygrometers are an easy tool to use for keeping track and knowing when humidity levels start to drop. Gaps can be another indicator of decreased RH levels.

Some easy fixes can range from filling cracks with wood putty to adding a humidifier during the cold dry winter months. If you need a second opinion with what your floor is trying to tell you, stop by one of our locations and well be happy to help.

3: The Weather Has Changed

If you are noticing noisy wood floors during the extreme points in summer or winter, then the movement is related to the environment. In the dead of winter, floors will naturally be drier – your home can be drier than the Sahara at times. 

And dry air = shrinking and gaps.

Living room with summer and winter seasons outside the windows
Hardwood floors swell in the summer and shrink in the winter.

Once the weather shifts, it should resolve. The inverse is true for summer when wood swells. To keep this from being problematic, you should have a humidifier to add moisture back into the air and maintain the 35-55% RH that your floor needs to be happy.

A squeaky wood floor is a good reminder to turn on your humidifier and do any necessary maintenance to the unit. Don’t have a humidifier? Learn more about humidifiers here.

4: My Board-to-Board Noise is Annoying

This happens when two boards are loose enough to rub together in the tongue and groove. This type of squeak is localized to one area or to only two boards perhaps a result of insufficient fasteners. You may also observe individual board movement with this type of squeak.

5: The Subfloor is a Problem

If you can take a step away from one squeaky area to another, your problem may be with the subfloor. These squeaks will cover a larger area than just two boards and if you were to see movement, it will be over a larger section of the floor. Dig a little deeper and read this on noisy floors.

Person screwing down a subfloor into substrate
If the sub-flooring moves in any areas, screw it down into the substrate to get rid of the movement and potential squeaks.

Seasonal Change Not the Problem?

If you have a squeaky wood floor that lasts beyond seasonal changes, it may be time to look into what other issues might be happening by calling a flooring professional.

We would be happy to answer any questions you have about your floor as well. Find the nearest RW Supply+Design location here.

Please Fix My Squeaky Wood Floor!

If your squeaky wood floor is driving you crazy, you may be able to fix them with these solutions:

  • Screws from underneath to seat the flooring to the subfloor in problem areas.
  • Hollow spot repair: drilling a hole in the flooring and filling the void with epoxy is a possible solution: http://www.dritac.com/productsRS.php
  • Squeak No More: http://www.oberry-enterprises.com this method will allow for top screwing boards, but counter sinking the screws.
  • Squeak Ender: http://www.squeakender.com this cures the issue of voids between subfloor and flooring joists. (Shimming the voids can also help here, but might cause squeaks in other areas)
  • Lubricants: This may sound a little hokey, but talcum powder (*no longer recommended due to adverse health affects), graphite, and WD-40 are all solutions that have helped squeaking floors. This is usually somewhat temporary. One NWFA certified inspector swears by WD-40 as a solution. In these cases, the movement is causing friction between the flooring boards. When this is the case, lubricating the friction points will eliminate the sound. *Always consult your flooring manufacturer before using non-standard fixes as there could be warranty implications.

The Best Way to Stop Squeaks…

Prevent them before they start. We highly recommend using a glue assist method with any nail-down application for floors that are thin, wide, or being installed in an environment with swings in humidity.

Get all the details and learn 2 glue assist methods in the video below: