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4 Ways of Why and How to Fix Squeaky Floors
Hardwood flooring has many advantages and relatively few downsides. One problem you may face as an owner of such floor is the noise. It is annoying during the daytime and can be a literal nightmare during the night because every time someone takes a step your sleep is disturbed.
At the same time, you can see wood covering areas like gyms or dance halls. Those places see a lot of traffic daily and yet they stick to hardwood without a problem. Wood can work well if you know what to do with it. So, what is the most common reason for the creaky floor and how to deal with them?
Reasons and Solutions for Squeaky Floors
1. Wood is a natural flooring option and is characterised as ‘hygroscopic’
It can absorb water from the environment which makes it sensitive to humidity and temperature changes. As a result, a hardwood floor will regularly expand and contract during its life. Over time, this can lead to something far worse than some annoying squeaking - like cupped or warped floorboards. However, there are measures which can be taken to prevent this.
Before installation, the new floor should be left in to acclimatise for two weeks in the room it is about to be laid. If for some reason this has not been done with your floor that might be the reason for the creakiness you experience now. Consider the sounds a sign for possible bigger incoming problems.
The most common cause of creaky floor is when two boards are rubbing together, often because of the bad fitting. Of course, this is not always the case. It could just be the natural contracting and expanding of the wood mentioned above that is causing the issue. Still, the numbers of bad installations are surprisingly high.
This is easy to fix if you use a lubricant like talcum powder, powdered soapstone or graphite and apply it to the floorboards. The lubricant will reduce the rubbing and therefore the sound.
Joists are the horizontal members that run between foundations, wall or beams and carry the weight of the floors and everything on it including people and furniture. The subfloor is directly supported by the joists and it is the layer on top of it that is the visible part of the floor we see every day.
Sometimes a gap may appear between the joist and the subfloor and become the reason for the unpleasant noises we hear when walking. There are several ways to fix this. The gaps can be filled with a simple shim or a construction adhesive. Keep in mind that construction adhesives are solvent-based and attempting this without proper equipment (like respirator) can be dangerous for your health.
As we have already mentioned humidity and temperature changes can influence the wood in a bad way. This includes the joists, as well. They can warp and twist and in doing so, open up a larger gap. Such a gap should be dealt with by nailing a wooden piece along the damaged joist to support the subfloor in combination with construction adhesive.
4. Alternative Options to Limit the Creaking
Funny enough, people often consider underlays with carpet flooring but not so much with hardwood. Having an acoustic underlay to provide additional sound reduction will not only improve the walking experience but will also limit what your neighbours below you can detect as a sound. This is especially useful if you live in a flat or an apartment where you are required to keep certain standards in this regard.
In addition to the underlay, you can use rugs to not only reduce potential unpleasant sounds but also provide yourself with a sense of comfort. Not only useful but cheap! If you have underfloor heating, you may also want to restrict the use of shoes since they impact harder and therefore produce more squeaking.