Why do floors creak?
24 November 2020
Your hardwood floor is meant to impress, last, delight, and… keep silent. Afterward, nobody wants to find himself shrinking from stepping onto a noisy floorboard or even tiptoeing across the home avoiding touching THAT VERY plank. If left unmanaged, creaky flooring may become a serious irritator, compromising the comfort and tranquility of the in-home atmosphere and driving habitants crazy with every slight step on the screechy ground. But what causes wood floors to squeak? Discover the answer below.
Why do hardwood floors creak?
Though a creaky floor is quite an upsetting issue, it is no big deal, as those nasty squeaks do not indicate any dramatic structural damage. Due to its natural origin, the solid wood floor reacts to weather and climate changes, which may end up with the floor drying and expanding. The loss of initial, say flawless configuration causes the floor elements to rub against each other, the subfloor, or the driven-in nails in a very audible fashion.
The first thing your floor says through creaking is that there are imbalances with RH (relative humidity) in your rooms as surely as gaps indicate just the same. If you notice that the scraping noise is not persistent but appears only during the extreme temperatures in cold and hot months, then the problem stems from the environment.
In frosty seasons, the solid wood floor will dry because the relative air humidity in the apartment frequently drops to 10-20%. It is almost like in the Sahara and three times as low as the normal level. Dry inner air results in shrinking, gapping, and squeaking.
Once the weather extremes stabilize, the annoying creaks generally go away. The same regularity is observable during summer when the air is too moist, causing the wooden planks to swell and, ultimately, get out of shape. It is recommended to have a modern humidifier to keep the inside moisture at an adequate level of 35-60% and ensure your precious wooden parquet flooring is out of danger.
Friction is also a notorious culprit of squeaky floors. When two floorboards meet, they start rubbing against one another producing a distinctive sound. This type of squeaking is characterized by the visible movement of the neighboring boards, and the problem is generally localized to just one area or only to two floor planks.
The problem of a creaky wooden floor may also derive from the imperfections of the subfloor when the scraping noise seems to be overwhelming across the entire floor, not just two strips. It is also the subfloor to blame when you see movement through a larger section of the surface than just two neighboring boards.
How to fix squeaky hardwood floors?
Stopping squeaking floors is not as difficult as it may sound. In fact, it is a DIY challenge and can be eliminated in a matter of several minutes. Here are quick solutions for how you can stop the squeaky music of your floor without hiring a licensed carpenter:
- Screw from underneath in problematic areas to make the floor fit tight against the subfloor.
- Fix hollow spots by drilling a small hole in the floor coating and injecting some epoxy in the void.
- Another way to cure the loud floors from underneath is by applying some wood glue or construction adhesive on a thin wooden shim and carefully tapping it between the joists and the subfloor or between two hardwood planks. While doing so, make sure your maneuvers do not make the coating to wave or cockle.
- For large gaps, you can use a caulking gun to insert professional construction glue between the subfloor and the beams.
- The headache of squeaky floors can be treated from above, for instance, by driving ring-shank nails or cement-coated flooring nails into the seams between the rubbing segments.
- Squeak-Ender is a popular solution for curing creaky floors. It presents a piece of metallic hardware with a flat plate, a bracket, and several screws to tightly sandwich your subfloor to the beam.
- If it is the rubbing boards that generate that pesky squeal underneath your feet, you can use lubricants to muffle the sound. Talcum powder or graphite are nifty helpers for all DIY-ers.
If you hesitate to eliminate the problem of squeaky floors on your own, you can always reckon to a professional who will effectively detect the true cause of the hateful sound and resolve it with minimum fuss, recovering you that little luxury to sneak to the fridge at night without making the sleeping family know.