• Share:
How to Fix Squeaky Floors

Fast, easy ways to silence floor squeaks. No special skills or tools needed. We'll show you everything you need to know.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

How to Fix Squeaky Floors

Fast, easy ways to silence floor squeaks. No special skills or tools needed. We'll show you everything you need to know.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

First, find the source of the squeak

Floor squeaks are caused by wood rubbing against a nail, other wood, or even ductwork and piping. Finding the squeak can be difficult, but if the squeaking floor is open from below, you’re in luck. You’ll have several options to stop it.

To locate the source of the squeak, have a helper spring up and down on the squeaky area while you listen and watch for subfloor movement from below. Also look for loose nails or subfloor seams rubbing against each other. It doesn’t take much movement to cause a squeak, especially since your floor amplifies the sound like a giant soundboard.

If you’re working alone, measure the squeak’s location in relation to a wall or heating register that you can locate from below. Then go downstairs and measure these distances along the subfloor. Or, if your floor is carpeted, you can drive an 8d finish nail through it to mark the squeak source.

Fill gaps with shims

Finding the exact cause of the squeak, and then choosing the best remedy, isn’t always a simple task. Don’t be surprised if you have to try several solutions before you stop it for good. Look for gaps between a joist and the subfloor first. Plug in a drop light and examine the area closely; a gap or movement may not be obvious.

If you spot a gap, use the wood shim solution to stop floor movement. Shims are available at any home center or lumberyard. Push a pair of shims in lightly. If you drive them in, you’ll widen the gap and potentially create a new squeak. Adding construction adhesive before final assembly makes the fix permanent while filling in irregularities between the wood surfaces.

Reinforce the joists

If you spot wide gaps along sagging or damaged joists or see that a subfloor edge is poorly supported, add blocking to support the subfloor and stop movement. Also keep an eye out for protruding nails and clip them with diagonal cutters. (You may need a strong grip and a few tries to work your way through the nail!)

Measure and cut a 2x4 block that’s 2 ft. longer than the poorly supported area. Apply construction adhesive to the side and top of the blocking before installation to add strength. It should squish out when you screw the 2x4 in place. Predrill screw holes (for 2-1/2-in. wood screws) to prevent splitting the block and to make driving easier.

Caution!

Construction adhesive contains a strong solvent. Wear a respirator with an organic vapor cartridge when working in closely confined areas.

Fill gaps with construction adhesive

Sometimes the gapping between the subfloor and joist is too narrow, too irregular or too widespread for shims to be effective. Or perhaps you can’t pinpoint the exact source of the squeak. A good solution is to use a bead of construction adhesive to glue the wood together. You don’t have to press the gaps closed; construction adhesive fills the space and hardens. The key is to force it as far as possible into the gaps without widening them. Work both sides of the joist for a strong, lasting connection. And glue nearby joists as well in case you can’t find the exact squeak source. Keep off the floor for a day until the glue hardens.

Block beneath squeaky joints

Once in a while, movement in a subfloor joint will cause a squeak. You can stop it by screwing and gluing 2x8 blocking under the joint to give it solid support. First angle-screw through the blocking, up into the joists, to ensure a tight fit. But be sure to drive additional nails or screws to anchor the block. Otherwise it might work loose and cause more squeaks!

Screw hardwood flooring from below

A solid wood floor is usually fastened with hundreds of nails, so squeaks often occur as the floor ages. But some squeaks aren’t caused by nails; they come from one edge of a board rubbing on another. A simple “first” solution is to dust the squeaky area of your floor with talcum powder, working it into the cracks. The talc reduces friction and may solve the problem, at least for one season.

Note: Talc can be slippery. Wipe off the excess.

For a more permanent solution, however, you’ll usually have to screw the subfloor to the wood flooring from below. Drill a 1/8-in. pilot hole about 1/2 in. less than the thickness of the entire floor, and buy screws 1/4 in. shorter than the floor thickness so they won’t penetrate the surface. You can find your floor thickness by either removing a floor register and measuring the floor where the duct comes through, or by drilling a small hole in an out-of-the-way corner and measuring with a nail.

To maintain a safe margin, mark the desired drilling depth on the drill bit with masking tape. Space your screws about every 6 in. in the area of the squeak. Have someone stand on the floor above while you drive the screws. Set the heads flush with the subfloor. Sinking the head into the subfloor could cause the screw point to break through the finished floor surface.

Back to Top

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Cordless drill
    • Tape measure
    • Circular saw
    • Caulk gun
    • Drill bit set
    • Rags
    • Safety glasses
    • Utility knife

You may also need a respirator.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • Shims
    • Screws
    • Construction adhesive
    • 2x4
    • 2x8

Comments from DIY Community Members

Share what's on your mind and see what other DIYers are thinking about.

1 - 7 of 7 comments
Show per page: 20   All

September 08, 9:26 PM [GMT -5]

Squeaky floors mean the wood is rubbing and dry but before you try expensive fixes try a little baby powder. I have very old floors and after using the baby powder they stopped squeaking. Put a lite coat of powder at the noisy area and tap with a rubber mallet. Wipe up excuse powder, tap again then sweep up. After a few days vacuum the area.

February 10, 10:43 PM [GMT -5]

the squeak is one section o the oak floor in the living room. below is a finished living room no exposed underside. how do u fix the squeak without tearing the ceiling from below which is not likely to happen. is there a fix for this

March 17, 11:12 PM [GMT -5]

If I have access both underneath the subfloor as well as above (I will be removing the existing vinyl floor tile in preparation for ceramic floor tile), are the from-underneath approaches still the best practice, or is it also fine to screw down the squeaky areas from above (as long as I countersink the screw heads) ? Thanks

January 13, 7:40 PM [GMT -5]

the floor is on the second level and the first has a ceiling. The hardwood floor is from the 40's and are only 1" wide. Not tongue&groove

March 04, 10:54 PM [GMT -5]

The only way to fix the sqeek in bi level floors is tear the flooring up and re-nail the subfloor down. Just figured i would post on your post to help you out.

February 02, 7:57 PM [GMT -5]

This is only good if you can reach the underside of the floor. With 2 story or bi-levels the squeak has to be fixed from the floor side down. I'd like to see instructions for that.

April 27, 7:43 AM [GMT -5]

My living room floor squeaks in one certain spot. I'll need to try this and see if I can get rid of the squeak.

+ Add Your Comment
closeX

Add Your Comment

How to Fix Squeaky Floors

Please add your comment
closeX

Log in to My Account

Log in to enjoy membership benefits from The Family Handyman.

  • Forgot your password?
Don’t have an account yet?

Sign up today for FREE and become part of The Family Handyman community of DIYers.

Member benefits:

  • Get a FREE Traditional Bookcase Project Plan
  • Sign up for FREE DIY newsletters
  • Save projects to your project binder
  • Ask and answer questions in our DIY Forums
  • Share comments on DIY Projects and more!
Join Us Today
closeX

Report Abuse

Subject
Reasons for reporting post

Free OnSite Newsletter

Get timely DIY projects for your home and yard, plus a dream project for your wish list!

Follow Us