Why Floor Boards Creak and Squeak

Why Floor Boards Creak and Squeak

Creak. Squeak. What’s that sound?

If you hear a noise when you walk on certain floor boards throughout your home, they might be trying to tell you something.

Although noise floors are most common in high traffic areas, they can be caused by a variety of things, and exist anywhere where you have flooring. They may be most common in older homes, but if a house wasn’t built right, you can find it in brand new homes that you’ve just moved into.

There are several things that could be making floor boards squeak.


When every piece is placed into your home during construction, it’s like a giant puzzle where every piece should fit snugly into place. For your flooring, that means each wood piece fits closely together. Floor joists are the large wooden beams that exist as a part of your subfloor, and they bear the weight of the suspended floor boards that sit beneath your flooring. They run perpendicular to give it strength, and are secured using nails. When there is a gap between the joist and the subfloor board, it allows movement to occur. That pressure can cause that creak or squeak sound you hear.

Subfloor … or floor?

It might not be your subfloor that’s doing the talking. If you have hardwood in place and haven’t provided proper maintenance over the years, it could be your hardwood planks telling you they need a little attention. Over time, hardwood can move, expand, and contract many times. That can create small gaps between the planks, and as they move they can squeak and creak. Remember that hardwood flooring does best with little change in the surrounding area. Keep your home at a comfortable temperature, somewhere between 60 and 80 degrees is ideal. Hardwood also likes a comfortable relative humidity between 25 and 55 percent. If you notice a lot of creaks and squeaks, it might be time for a little TLC, and possibly refinishing work.

Change in weather

Why Floor Boards Creak and SqueakSuddenly, the temperature spikes to well over 100 degrees. Or maybe it plunges to 10 below, with wind chill moving well past that. So you run the air conditioner or furnace more. A lot more. That can change both the temperature and humidity levels inside your home. In the peak of winter, your floor will naturally be drier. More dry air circulating through your home means drying out would, which creates shrinkage and gaps between the planks. If you haven’t updated your HVAC equipment in a while, and haven’t installed a whole house humidifier, it could make your home dryer than it should be. Pay attention to the inside conditions. It’s impacting your floor boards more than you know.

When two boards meet

Every single day, your house settles just a bit. The subfloor might move. The wood planks might adjust. The sun streams in from the windows. You turn up the heat to feel warm. Life impacts the way your house sits, moves, and adjusts. It’s just a fact. What didn’t exist yesterday may very well be there today. And that can mean two boards suddenly touch and make a sound. Creak. Squeak.

Of course, you can put up with it. That squeaking sound is a sign of age and longevity. It’s the way your house changes over time. It might not impact your home at all … for a while.

But that creak or squeak in your floor boards is trying to tell you something. There’s a difference in the way your house sits, and it’s causing a problem. Please fix me – because it will be a problem over time.

Ultimately, what’s causing your creak or squeak comes down to one of several things:

  • An incorrect nail or screw was used to secure the floor boards to the joist
  • The nail or screw weren’t fitted correctly and have wiggled out of place
  • A gap exists between the joist and the subfloor
  • There’s an issue with the way the supporting joists connect with the boards underneath

There might be a simple solution, or it could be the impact of several. If a nail comes loose, for example, it might cause a gap between the boards.

In any of these circumstances, hiring a professional will allow them to get to the heart of the problem, and fix it at its root cause.

How do you find out what’s causing the creak or squeak?

The first step is in pinpointing where the squeak originates. You might notice it as you walk across the floor, but spend a few minutes pressing down and determining exactly where it is. Look for movement in the floor. Listen to where the sound is the greatest.

Once you have determined the exact location, you can assess what might be causing it. Look for loose floor boards. If you have access to the space underneath, from a basement or crawl space, you can see if there is movement or shifting.

Keep in mind that if you don’t get to the root cause, and attempt to fix something yourself, you could make the squeak or creak worse.

The best way to ensure a tight fit

Homes today are built to be safe and secure from all kinds of elements. But even in the best of situations, everyday events cause things to break down.

Your best course of action as a homeowner is to always ask questions.

Make sure you understand the best method for installing new items into your home. When you bring in new flooring, for example, it takes a bit to acclimate before you can install it. Hardwood expands and contracts, especially when it moves from a warehouse to your home. Placing it in your home for a bit will help it get ready for your environment.

Maintenance can also mean regular cleaning. Things like vacuuming, dusting, and mopping may seem simple to keep your home in pristine condition. But don’t forget to ask questions about the products and services you select. Will they do more harm than good? What chemicals are used in the formulas? How will it impact your home?

Do you have additional questions about the flooring in your home? We’re here to help. Just ask.

The post Why Floor Boards Creak and Squeak first appeared on PRO! Flooring.

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