How to Silence the 4 Types of Squeaky Floors

Creaky old floors in haunted castles are not the only place you might experience a noisy floor. The older the home is the greater chance you might hear a squeak or pop under foot. Homes that are only a few years old can also develop a squeaky floor. Noisy floors may remind you of Grandma’s old farmhouse but it does not do much to settle the nerves in your own modern home.

For family members who live in the house day-after-day hearing the squeaking and popping is a nuisance that they just want it to stop!

Squeaks can point to another problem that requires further attention. Consider these points when you’re ready to take action and learn how to silence the 4 types of squeaky floors.

Environmental Causes

First, determine if a change in the environment is causing the squeaky floor. Wood naturally expands in the summer and contracts in the winter. The movement from this process can result in squeaks.

Room with windows showing snow outside
Wood naturally expands in the summer and contracts in the winter.

If you start to notice this, don’t panic, just check the humidity levels in your home to ensure they are in the 35% to 55% range. If the air in your home is too dry or lower than 35%, or too humid (over 55%) squeaky floors could be a result.

This seasonal movement is normal and should resolve once the environment returns to normal range of 35% to 55% relative humidity. You may want to consider adding a humidifier to counter the dry effects of winter on your flooring.

If you’ve done all this and your squeak overstays its welcome, then it is time to dig deeper.

Board-to-Board Squeaky Floors

Noisy floors can occur because of “deflection”. This is the vertical (up and down) movement in flooring due to a load placed on it. When repeatedly heavy loads move across the floor in a localized area, the deflection may cause increased friction on the tongue and groove side edges and ends of the boards. Boards rubbing over time can loosen fasteners and make noise. If you hear a squeaky spot in the floor when you step on the boards, these boards rubbing together may be the cause. Make note of the location in order to further determine a remedy from the list below.

Person walking on a hardwood floor
Squeaks can often times be caused by board-to-board contact or “deflection”.

Flooring boards that become damaged due to excess moisture, inadequate subfloor preparation, or improper installation will be the first to sound off.

The following “remedies” are provided as solutions from various sources: contractors, flooring inspectors, manufacturers, and others. We suggest that in any case you should consult with your hardwood flooring manufacturer before employing any remedy to your situation.

Squeaky Floor Remedies are:

  • WD 40 (applied with a Squeegee) may work but can also make floors slippery and difficult to clean or recoat without sanding.
  • Talcum (baby) Powder is no longer recommended due to the associated adverse health affects.
  • Squeak No More, counter sink board repair kit
  • Board Replacement
  • DriTac Adhesive Repair Kits
  • Nail or Screw Board Down

Subfloor Causing a Squeaky Floor

“Subfloor deflection,” can also contribute to floor noise. Problems between the wood and the subfloor underneath are suspect when deflection is obvious. Using under-rated or too thin plywood subfloor, improperly spaced flooring joist, and insufficient number of fasteners are a few of the causes to look for. You may not see individual boards moving but movement of entire sections of the floor.

If you can take two steps and the floor is still making noise, then you’re probably dealing with an issue related to the subfloor.

Two men installing hardwood flooring over sub-flooring
Often times squeaks come from problems between the flooring and sub-flooring.

To learn more about how to solve installation-related squeaks, check out this article.

Squeaky subfloor remedies are:

  • Squeak No More
  • Squeak Relief
  • Shims
  • Installing screws through the flooring, subfloor and to the joist

Glue to Concrete Noise

Flooring glued directly to a concrete slab is common in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. These floors may be noisy but for a different reasons discussed above. When a concrete slab is not level and the adhesive used does not sufficiently contact both the entire surface of the concrete and the back of the board, the result is often a hollow spot between the flooring and slab.

Wood flooring over concrete subfloor.
Hollow spots between the flooring and concrete subfloor can be a cause for squeaking.

When these areas are walked on, the deflection can case a board to sound off because of insufficient adhesion of the glue.

Remedies are:

  • DriTac Repair Kits to fill in the hollow spot
  • Board Replacement

Silencing Your Squeaky Floor

With most wood floors that are nailed down, squeaking is a common issue. While there are a variety of causes, there are also many remedies as in the examples we’ve talked through as well as ways to prevent them. Proper subfloor preparation, installing the floor correctly, maintaining the home between 35%-55% RH, and using a glue assist method are all ways to stop squeaks before they start.