Creaking Floors and How to Silence Them: Step-by-Step Solutions for Quiet Interiors

Creaking floors are a common issue that many homeowners face. The tell-tale squeaks and groans are not just a nuisance—they can also hint at underlying issues with your floor’s installation or age. As experts in home improvements, we understand the impact a silent and solid floor has on the comfort and value of your home.

The old wooden floorboards groan and creak underfoot, echoing through the empty hallway

The good news is that addressing a creaky floor does not always require professional help or significant expense. Often, the solution lies in pinpointing the exact cause of the creak and applying a straightforward fix. Whether your issue is with hardwood, laminate, or another type of flooring, there are effective strategies you can employ to achieve a quiet, squeak-free surface.

It’s important to identify whether the noise is coming from the surface of your floorboards, the subfloor, or the joists below. Once we know where the sound originates, we can use the right technique and tools to secure the flooring and eliminate those persistent creaks. In the sections ahead, we’ll provide step-by-step guidance to help you silence your floors, restoring peace and tranquility to your home.

Identifying the Cause of Floor Creaks

When your floor starts to creak, it often indicates an issue beneath the surface that requires attention. We’ll guide you through a straightforward approach to pinpoint exactly what’s causing those pesky noises.

Using a Stud Finder to Locate Joists

To get started, it’s crucial to find the floor joists, as these are the beams supporting your floor. Using a stud finder, move it across the floor and mark the points where the device indicates joists. This will help you in determining whether the squeaks are due to gaps or loose nails in this area.

  • Process:
    • Switch your stud finder to the deep scanning mode.
    • Slowly glide the device across the floor.
    • Mark the edge of each joist with painter’s tape.

Diagnosing Common Causes of Squeaks

After locating the joists, the next step is a hands-on assessment to diagnose common causes of squeaks:

  • Loose Floorboards: Inspect for movement by applying pressure to the boards. Any give can cause noise.
  • Poor Nail Fixing: If nails don’t securely grip the joists, they may slide in and out, creating sounds.
  • Gaps: Small gaps between the subfloor and floorboards or joists can result in squeaks when walked upon.

Assessing Humidity and Structural Issues

Humidity fluctuations can cause wood to expand and contract, leading to creaks. Use a humidity gauge to check the levels in your home; ideal humidity should range between 45%-55%. Additionally, inspect the following for structural issues:

  • Subfloor Condition: Look for signs of deterioration that could affect stability.
  • Foundation Issues: Ensure the foundation is solid, as problems here can resonate up through the floors.

Examine these elements thoroughly to ensure the structural integrity of your floor.

Tools and Materials for Repair

When it comes to silencing squeaky floors, the right tools and materials are crucial for a lasting fix. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need.

Selecting the Right Screws and Nails


  • Length: 3 in. wood screws
  • Type: Use counter-snap screws specifically designed for flooring


  • Size: 2 in. finish nails
  • Extra: A nail set will ensure nails are driven below the surface without damaging the floor
Counter-snap screws (for floor)Finish nails (2 in. long)
3 in. lengthNail set (to drive nails below surface)

Benefits of Various Lubricants

For creaks that are caused by wood-on-wood friction:


  • Talcum Powder: Ideal for minor squeaks
  • Powdered Graphite: Works well for persistent noise
  • Dry Lubricant: Best for areas with more complex access

Essential Tools for DIY Floor Fixes

To successfully fix a squeaky floor, ensure you have:

  • Drill: For predrilling holes for screws
  • Hammer: For driving nails into the flooring
  • Utility Knife: To trim wood shims and clean excess materials
  • Pencil: To mark drill or nail locations
  • Wood Filler: To conceal the screw or nail heads after installation

Tool Checklist:

  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Nail Set
  • Utility Knife
  • Pencil
  • Wood Filler

Remember, precise application of both tools and materials is key in eliminating those floor noises permanently.

Squeak-Proofing Your Subfloors

We can effectively minimize floor creaks by addressing the subfloors directly, securing them firmly to the joists and ensuring no movement between the layers of flooring material.

Securing Plywood and Hardwood

To prevent squeaks, we need tightly affixed plywood subflooring. Begin by checking each sheet of plywood for gaps or loose spots. For any areas that move under weight, construction adhesive is essential. Running a ½” bead of glue along the joists before laying the plywood creates a solid, squeak-resistant bond.

  • Lubricate: As a temporary fix, you can apply talcum powder or graphite between the planks to reduce friction-generated noise.
  • Glue-coated Shims: If there are low spots, inserting wood shims coated in carpenter’s glue can level the plywood and reduce movement.

It’s important to ensure hardwood planks are well-affixed to the subfloor with screws or nails at the right intervals. Nails should be driven into the joists, not just the subflooring layer. If using screws, squeak-reduction screws designed for this purpose can pull the material tight against the joists.

Reinforcement with Joist Hangers

If the subfloor still moves, reinforcing the underlying structure is next. We can strengthen weak joists by attaching joist hangers, which adds rigidity and reduces flex.

  • Inspect Joists: Look for any signs of damage or weakness. If a joist is compromised, it can be the source of a squeak.
  • Install Joist Hangers: Use joist hangers to secure the end of each joist where it meets the frame, creating a more stable flooring system.

By reinforcing the connection between the joists and the subfloor, we increase the overall sturdiness of the wood flooring system. Remember, a stiff and well-secured subfloor is key to a quiet floor.

Silencing Squeaks on Finished Floors

We can address creaking wood floors effectively, even after they’ve been finished. Here’s how to maintain your peace and quiet, whether your floors are covered with carpets and rugs or if they’re exposed hardwood.

Working with Carpets and Rugs

For carpeted floors hiding that irksome squeak, it’s time for some investigation. We locate the squeak by applying pressure with our feet and listening. Once found, there’s no need to remove the entire carpet; a specialized ‘Squeak No More’ kit can be used.

This kit allows us to precisely insert a screw through the carpet and into the subfloor or joist where the squeak originates. The screw’s head snaps off below the surface of the carpet, making the fix invisible.

  • Tools Needed:
    • Carpet locator tool
    • ‘Squeak No More’ kit
  • Steps:
    1. Find the squeak under the carpet.
    2. Use the alignment and depth control fixture to drive the screw at the right angle and depth.
    3. Snap off the screw’s head.

Fixing Squeaky Hardwood Without Damage

Moving to hardwood floors, they’re a beauty to behold but a bother when they squeak. For a squeak-free floor, you can employ quick fixes that don’t harm your flooring. First, identify the squeaky area by walking over it.

Next, from below the floor, use a wood shim coated with wood adhesive to gently brace any gaps between the subfloor and the hardwood, reducing movement and noise. For surface fixes, draw upon talcum powder. Sprinkle it on the squeaky area; this acts as a lubrication, easing friction between the planks.

  • Tools & Materials:
    • Talcum powder or graphite powder
    • Wood shims
    • Wood adhesive
  • Quick Fix Steps:
    1. Sprinkle talcum or graphite powder into the seam that’s squeaking.
    2. Apply firm pressure across the area to work the powder down.
    3. Remove excess powder with a soft cloth.

Long-Term Maintenance and Prevention

To keep your hardwood floors quiet and creak-free, regular maintenance and preventative steps are crucial. We’ll focus on managing humidity levels and conducting routine inspections.

Managing Humidity Levels

Humidity is a major factor in floorboard expansion and contraction, which often lead to squeaks. Here’s how to maintain optimal levels:

  • Monitor Humidity: Aim to keep indoor humidity levels between 35%-55%. Use a hygrometer to measure.
  • Use a Dehumidifier: In high humidity, use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture and prevent floorboards from swelling.
  • Seasonal Adjustments: Adjust humidity levels seasonally as needed to address changes that can impact floors.

Routine Inspections and Upkeep

Checking for problems and keeping floors in good shape is key to stopping squeaks before they start.

  • Tighten Joists and Floorboards: Use a Squeeeeek No More kit or similar for easy fixes for loose areas.
  • Lubricate Joints: If squeaks occur, a thin application of a lubricant can help. Avoid using too much.
  • Preventative Measures: Tools like the Squeak-Ender or Counter-Snap Kit can secure floorboards and joists, heading off future noise.
  • Maintenance Routine: Regularly cleaning and vacuuming prevents debris from settling in joints, which can cause creaks.

By following these guidelines, you can maintain silence and durability in your hardwood floors for years to come.

Advanced Fixes for Persistent Issues

When creaky floors resist simple fixes, it’s time to assess and repair the deeper causes. Our focus here is on foundation concerns and seeking professional help for intricate floor problems.

Addressing Foundation and Crawl Space Concerns

Problems with a home’s foundation or crawl space can lead to creaky floors, indicating more serious structural issues. Here’s how we can tackle these:

  • Inspect the Crawlspace: Look for signs of dampness, rot, or pests that may weaken floor joists.
  • Check Support Beams: Ensure they are intact, without any bowing or damage.
  • Reinforce Joists: If joists are weakened, they may need reinforcement with steel mounting plates or sistering additional wood.
  • Use Floor Repair Kits: Specifically designed to address creaking, these kits can strengthen the connection between the floor and the subfloor.

Professional Interventions for Serious Problems

When the issue goes beyond the scope of DIY, professionals step in with solutions. Their expertise is essential for the following fixes:

  • Foundation Repair: If foundation issues cause creaking, experts can stabilize and repair the foundation, preventing further damage.
  • Breakaway Screws: A professional might use breakaway screws, which are designed to secure subfloors without needing to be removed.
  • Structured Solutions: For complex structural issues, specialists can devise custom solutions, ensuring long-term durability and silence.

Handling foundation and structural issues is crucial for a permanent solution to creaky floors. If the task seems daunting, remember that professional assistance is available to securely and adeptly silence those persistent squeaks.

Let Us Know How We’re Doing!

Did this expertly prepared resource answer your question?

Do you have another question about home maintenance, home improvement projects, home appliance repair, or something else?

Get more information, send in questions and keep the discussion going by contacting the I’ll Just Fix It Myself company customer service team at at 1-800-928-1490 or Email us at [email protected]