Stop Squeaky Wood Floors by Using the Right Fastener

If you’re involved in selling or installing hardwood floors, you probably had to solve a “squeaky floor” problem for a customer.

Nobody likes it when their brand new hardwood floors start making sounds. Prefinished flooring manufacturer warranties do not cover noise issues due to being job site related. The result is a headache to everyone involved.

There are a few things you can do to prevent the floors you are selling or installing from squeaking and it won’t cost you much money. Following these best practices will keep your customers happy, and protect your reputation.

Start with a subfloor that doesn’t squeak

There aren’t many guarantees in life, but one you can count on is that if you have a noisy subfloor, the wood flooring you install on top of it won’t magically fix it. Many squeaky wood floors aren’t actually the source of the problem – it’s the subfloor they are installed over that is the real issue.

Subfloors that are clean, dry, flat, and structurally sound provides an ideal surface to work on and will be a solid foundation for your wood flooring project.

Subfloor being installed in room with large window
An ideal subfloor ready for flooring installation should be clean, dry, flat, and sound.

Using the correct fastener and nailing schedule won’t eliminate squeaks caused by a bad subfloor, as evidenced in a case documented by Wood Floor Business. Do the right thing and spend time inspecting the subfloor and fix any issues such as high/low spots, squeaks, debris, or high moisture readings before you install flooring.

Use the correct fastener for your wood floor

Perhaps the worst mistake you can make when installing a wood floor is using the wrong fastener or using the right one incorrectly. There’s no easy fix once it’s done. You can be sure it will cost far more to fix the problem of incorrect fasteners than it would to use the right products from the start.

With so many different types of solid and engineered wood floors on the market, it’s important to know which products the manufacturer recommends using.

Flooring fasteners laying on a wood floor
Always read the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you’re using the correct fastener for installation.

We have created a simple chart that shows the recommended installation material for each of our prefinished flooring collections. See all of our installation guideshere.

If you are installing an unfinished wood floor, we can guide you to the correct fastener for your specific project. Contact one of our locations near you for a quote and a helpful answer to your fastener questions.

Use the right fastener correctly

It’s not enough to use the correct fastener. You also need to use it the correct way – which means checking your compressor for the right pressure setting, and making sure your pneumatic nail gun is operating correctly.

What can happen when using fasteners incorrectly:

Tongue splitting on the flooring boards

Cause: Your compressor pressure may be set too high, or the fastener is too large. This will keep the tongue and groove from fitting correctly eventually leading to movement and noisy floors. In some cases, this structural damage will require full board or floor replacement – at the contractor’s expense (read more about that here).

Person installing hardwood flooring with mallet and nailer
Using the wrong fastener can result in several problems, like broken tongues of boards or flooring not staying together.

Flooring won’t fit together properly

Cause: Your fastener gauge is too large or is not being set correctly in the nail pocket of the flooring board because of low air pressure or a misconfigured nail gun. An unset raised cleat or staple keeps the next board from fitting correctly.

On the other hand, your pressure may be too high and your fasteners are being over driven into the flooring. This causes the tongue side of the board to be pushed too hard against the subfloor and the groove side of the board to slightly elevate above the subfloor. This can eventually result in a popping or other noise.

Floor won’t stay together or comes loose later on

Cause: Your fastener is too small and is not giving enough holding power. Any movement in a floor, however slight, will eventually cause creaks or noise.

The best way to silence a noisy wood floor

The best way to make sure flooring you install is as noise free as possible is to make sure you have a good subfloor and are using the correct fastener in the correct way. Always follow guidelines and recommendations according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

We also recommend a glue assist method for additional insurance against any squeaks – especially in wide plank flooring.

The reality is that any wood flooring that is nailed down could eventually develop some sort of noise due to normal seasonal expansion and contraction of the wood. Following these steps and keeping the home in a consistent environment (35%-55% RH) will ensure wood flooring stays quiet for many years.

As your go-to wood flooring supplier throughout the Midwest contact us with any questions or needs you have for flooring supplies.