In a recent column, we discussed repairing the annoying floor squeaks when there is carpeting on the floor. In this column, we’ll address what to do if you have hardwood flooring.
If you have an unfinished area of the basement underneath the squeaky area, it is easiest to attack it from here. Identify the area that is squeaking by having another person walk on the area above. When you have the general area located, look to see if there are any gaps between the top of the joist and the subfloor. If there are, shims can be inserted into the gap. Apply glue to both sides of the shim and tap it in, only enough to fill the gap. Pushing a shim in too far could raise the floorboards, so use caution here.
If you don’t see any gaps, you’ll need to try installing some blocking or bridging. Steel bridging are metal “arms” that stretch from the bottom of one joist over to the top of another joist. By installing two of these in each joist cavity, they will form a cross, adding strength for under the flooring. The metal bridging can be purchased at most hardware stores. Some of these have metal prongs on the end that simply require they be hammered into the joist, while others have holes in the ends to use screws or nails to attach them to the joists.
If you can’t find the bridging, you can use wood blocks the same dimension of the joists. Cut these pieces so they will fit inside the joist cavity at a maximum distance of 6’ apart. Stagger them so that you can screw the block into the joist from either side.
If the area below the hardwood floor is not accessible, you’ll then need to pre-drill small holes in the flooring. Using a small head screw or a finish nail, drill into the floor and subfloor in the areas around the squeak. If you used a nail, drive the nail down beneath the floor, using a nail-set so that the hammer doesn’t scuff the floor. If you’re using a screw, use a counter sink device first so the head of the screw goes beneath the surface of the finished floor. Either way, you’ll then need to putty these holes. Many times, you can get putty which is the same color of the floor. If you’re not able to, use a stainable putty, then touch it up with a matching color of stain, along with a polyurethane.
Silence is golden.