Why Do Floors Creak?

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Floors, which are made up of joists and subfloors, have a tendency to creak. Rotted joists, gaps, weather changes, rubbing floorboards and more can all be squeakiness culprits and should be attended to with a variety of solutions. Lubrication, screws and construction adhesive are only a few ways to get your floor squeak-free and blissfully silent.

Why Do Floors Creak?
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How Are Floors Built?

Floors are made from timber joists that extend from the front wall to the back wall. Secondary support beams and internal load-bearing walls minimize the joist extension, and floorboards are nailed to the joists. In older buildings, deafening boards were positioned between the joists with sound-quieting material, often a 75-millimeter layer of dry ash and shells. This bettered sound reduction and fire protection. In newer buildings, built between the 1930s and 1940s, ash deafening material was less common. Instead, a 30-millimeter insulation quilt was laid over the joists, and a timber floor was nailed to battens to secure the floorboards. In postwar buildings, floors were often made from concrete with a timber finish laid on timber battens and a mineral wool quilt. Most floors are raised above the ground with a wooden framework that extends from wall to wall.

What Is the Subfloor?

The subfloor serves as a platform during construction and provides a base for finish flooring. It may be made of boards or plywood and is usually laid out at a perpendicular angle along the joists. The thickness and stiffness of the subfloor influence the types of finish materials that can be placed on top of it.

Why Is Your Floor Squeaking?

There are a few reasons why your floor might be squeaking. It may be that two boards are rubbing where they connect. This type of squeak is more localized. A subfloor squeak, on the other hand, is more likely to cover a wider area. Squeaks can also be due to seasonal changes. In winter, your floors will be drier and dry air leads to gaps and shrinkage. In summer, the wood tends to swell, also leading to squeakiness.

How Do You Fix a Squeaky Floor?

If the floor is squeaking in dry weather, you can add moisture to the air with a humidifier. If there are gaps along the joist, you can use construction adhesive to fill in the gaps to quiet the squeak. If a joist is warped or deteriorated, it can create a space between the joist and subfloor, often leading to creakiness. To solve this, you can nail a board along the problem joist. For squeaks caused by the wood floor rubbing against the plywood subfloor, you can drive screws through the bottom of the floor. Just make sure the screws aren't too long. Another great option: lubricant. Use powdered soapstone, talcum powder or powdered graphite between the boards. Place a cloth over the boards and walk on it so the lubricant penetrates the cracks.


Caroline is a writer from NYC. Her writing has appeared in L.A. Weekly, Elle.com, New York Magazine, Marie Claire and The Huffington Post. She produces content on women's health/wellness, design/DIY and business for companies such as Meredith Corporation, Leaf Group and the business school, Hautes Études Commercials Paris. She's a former Production Associate and blogger at Show of Force, the production company behind Nicholas Kristof's and Sheryl WuDunn's, Half the Sky.

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