How to Find Joists Below a Hardwood Floor

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Things You'll Need

  • Hammer

  • Cloth

  • Rubber band

  • Masking tape

  • Tape measure

  • Stud finder for floors (optional)


Instead of locating the floor joists by sound, you can use a stud/joist finder designed for floors. Simply turn the device on, place it on the floor and move it to the left or to the right until it lights up. Do not use a standard wall stud finder on floors, since the readings will not be accurate.

Floor joists are typically 16 inches apart.

Floor joists are wooden beams that run across the framework of a house and support the floors. Once the flooring, such as hardwood, is installed, there is little reason to locate the joists unless you are fixing a squeak. Since any nails or screws you insert in the hardwood floor must anchor into a joist, locating them is the first step in any repair. Although the process can be tricky, once you're armed with a little knowledge about spacing, the task is easy enough to accomplish.

Step 1

Wrap a clean cloth around the head of a hammer and secure it to the neck, using a rubber band twisted around it two or three times. The purpose of the cloth is to prevent damage to the hardwood floor while locating the floor joist.

Step 2

Kneel down on the hardwood floor and gently tap the head of the hammer on it, paying special attention to the sound it makes. Move the hammer to the left or the right until the sound changes from hollow to solid. This indicates that you have located a floor joist.

Step 3

Tear off a small piece of masking tape and place it on the hardwood floor to identify the joist.

Step 4

Place the end of a tape measure directly on the center of the masking tape and stretch it to the left or to the right for 16 inches.

Step 5

Mark the next location with another piece of masking tape. Tap the new location gently with the hammer to make sure it sounds solid and not hollow.

Step 6

Repeat the process of measuring 16 inches and then tapping the floor with a hammer until you've identified all of the remaining floor joists under the hardwood floor.


Kimberly Johnson

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.