Handyman advice for fixing squeaky floors

They often say that windows are the soul of a house and that floors are its voice. Cement floors aren’t going to have much to say. But, if you have wooden floors it could be a regular choir. Especially if you’re living in a house with 100 year old original wooden floors. They are such a treat, but the maintenance to keep those old planks in tune take some work.

Most home owners would prefer a squeak free home. OK – we know that there are some of you out there that wouldn’t trade your floors squeaks for all the money in the world. It adds “character” to your house you say. And, “it’s a like an old friend that greets you every time.” We get it. However, we are talking to those that want to do away with the noise.

Taking care of the noise is not as hard as you may think. And, it’s something that you can do on your own without much effort.

Why do floors squeak anyways

Before you go running around the house looking for your tool box. Let’s get a basic understanding on why floors squeak? The creaks and squeaks are due to two flooring elements rubbing against each other, such as:

Nails that have worked themselves loose over the years and are rubbing through the hole in the floorboard. The majority of floor noise is going to be this reason.

Two floorboards rubbing against each other. This could be the planks next to it or the joist underneath it.

Fasteners for the subfloor are pulling in and out of the joist underneath.

Lastly, uneven or bowed joists that rub against the subfloor.

Stopping any one of these is going to result in stopping the noise. It basically comes down to controlling these physical elements and preventing them from moving around.

Repairing from below

If you have access to your floor from below things just got a lot easier. Also, repairs made from below are not going to be visible to those walking on the floor above.

If you have a finished basement, meaning that you have a finished ceiling and not removal inserts, you need to consider if the cost and time is going to be worth it to tackle the squeak. Cutting into a drywall ceiling and then having to patch it is a pretty involved process. If you have exposed joists and planks then we’re off to the races.

Locate where the creak is coming from

For this one you’re going to need someone to help you. Have them go to the squeaky spot while you are underneath and have them trigger the squeak. You pinpoint its location from below and mark the spot with some tape. Then try one of these:

Shimming the floorboard

Use your wood shim and tap it between the joist and the floorboard or subfloor. If this works, then remove the shim, coat it with a good layer of wood glue and the tap it back into place again. Tap it in only as much as needed to stop the creak.

Pull the floor planks together

Shims are useful for separating flooring materials from each other, there is a product called Squeak-Ender which does the opposite. This product pulls flooring materials together. Inserting a shim could cause the material to bow, and this product when used together with the shim negates the bow and returns the floor to its true state.


Nope. This one is not about getting your sister down there and tie her to the creaking plank. Sistering is when you take a 2 x 4 along the joist, butt it up against the floorboard or subfloor and secure it in place.

Gluing the floor

You can run a long bead of adhesive made for the material in the seam between the joists and the floorboards or subfloor.

Repairing creaks from above

  • Not every house allows you to have access from below. In this case, you must do what you can to attempt the repair from the floor level. Here are some options for top-side repairs:
  • If you have solid hardwood floors or engineered wood the creak is probably caused by materials rubbing together. Squirt some powered graphite between the boards. Then lightly rub the product into the seams with a soft brush – think toothbrush. Vacuum up the extra.
  • If the squeaks and creaks only come in the Winter, it’s likely because of the dry air. Wood expands and contracts based on the level of humidity. Try adding a humidifier to the room and see if that alleviates the problem.
  • Again, for hardwood and engineered floors, drill a pilot hole at an angle through the floorboard above a joist. Hammer in a 1-inch finish nail through that hole. Countersink the nail to below the level of the wood. You can either finish it with a matching color wood filler, or if you have exposed nail heads, you can take a brown or black Sharpe (or both) and color the nail head to match the surface.

Good luck with tackling your squeaky floor. Should you try the methods above with no success – be sure to call our Handyman to come over and fix it for you.