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How to Stop Floorboards from Creaking

We have all experienced that annoying creaking floorboard.  This guide will tell you how to stop floorboards from creaking, so you can live in peace again!

Creaking floorboards are especially annoying if you are trying not to disturb someone who is sleeping.  Unfortunately, it is something that gets worse over time.  Although a squeaking floor can be very annoying, most people choose to ignore the problem.  Such an issue is usually ignored because it is hard to see the floorboards, and therefore not easy to correct the problem.  When walking across a carpeted floor and you hear a creaking sound, it is from the subfloor underneath.  Sub floors can be constructed of wood planks, plywood, or chip board that have been laid over the floor joists.

Types of House Floorboards

In general, homes in the UK have concrete floors downstairs usually in the form of concrete beams and blocks.  Timber floors are usually used upstairs.  In fact, this has been the standard since the Victorian era.

Chipboard flooring is very common in house builds when it comes to upper floors.  This engineered wood is manufactured from wood chips along with a suitable binder, then pressed into boards.  Compared to other options such a plywood boards, chip boards are very inexpensive.  If buying chipboard for your home sub floor, you must buy ones especially for flooring.  A common board used is 22mm thick x 2400mm x 600mm (8ft x 2ft) chipboard tongue and grove, such as the one below from the Amazon store.

Another type of subfloor used upstairs is plywood, which is made up of thin layers of wood veneer that are glued together.  In general, plywood is a better floorboard to use when trying to reduce creaking.  A common type of plywood used for home subfloors is structural plywood at least 18mm thick, like the one below from the Amazon store.

Identify the Problem Area

Get access to the problem area.  For example, carpet can be pulled back to reveal the creaking floorboards.  Or laminate could be carefully removed to reveal your creaking floorboards.

How to Stop Floorboards from Creaking

This guide will help you identify the root cause of your creaking floor, so you can solve it as quickly as possible.  The main reason floorboards become creaky is because the nails which secure them can become loose.  There are many other reasons why floor boards become loose and creak, such as:

Wood Shrinkage

Wood shrinkage around the nails over time is a common cause of floorboard creaking.  Shrinkage could also cause problems with pipes and cables that run through your floorboards, especially if there is not enough clearance on the holes.

Wood floorboards can also expand if they are allowed to soak up excess moisture.  Expansion of your wood subfloor will cause it to buckle, and therefore creak due to rubbing.  Ideally your floor should have been installed with some expansion space.  Expansion of your floorboards can be avoided by using a moisture resistant underlay for your carpets or laminate flooring.  Or you could even install marine ply floorboards which is thermally stable, and resistant to moisture.

Split Floor Boards

Splitting of wooden sub floors is typically a moisture related problem.  It happens when wood dries.  As a wooden sub floor expands and contracts, it forces the securely attached boards to move, therefore splitting at the points where they are fixed with nails or screws.  If you do have a split floor board ensure your replace it.  When replacing it, you need to make sure there is a slight gap around your board, so it can expand.

Warped Floor Boards or Joists

Joists can become warped over time due to house movement.  Warping of joists can create a gap between the joist and subfloor boards.  Therefore, stepping on this board makes a banging noise as it bends downwards.  Warped floor boards also have a similar result, as a gap is created.  Another reason for warping can be moisture entering the wood.

If the problem is due to a warped joist, this can be fixed by nailing a block of wood alongside the problem joist.  Then you could apply a bead of construction adhesive along the top of the wood that will butt against the subfloor, then nail or screw it to the joist.

Use of Incorrect Nails

Chipboard subfloors should be secured to joists via ring shank nails. These nails are usually 2 inches long, and have serrations all round the shaft.  They are slightly screw like in appearance.

The serrations help to prevent movement.  It is also important to ensure there are enough nails to securely hold the board in place.

Using normal nails which have smooth sides would allow the boards to become loose over time, and therefore creak.

Screws are better than nails to secure boards down.  It is more difficult for a screw to pull up than a nail.

Many floorboard issues can be solved by using the correct nails.

Buy ring shank nails from the Amazon store

Stop floorboards from creaking

We hope you have enjoyed this how to stop floorboards from creaking article.


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Posted on 15th January 2019 at 7:24 pm


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