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How To Install A Squeak-Free Hardwood Floor

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Nothing is quite as annoying as an obstinate squeak in your hardwood floor. Unfortunately, once a floor is installed, fixing such squeaks is often more trouble than learning to live with them. For that reason, it is important to install your floor correctly the first time around. If you have upcoming plans to redo your home's hardwood floors, read on. This article will explain how to ensure a squeak-free result.

Two Common Causes of a Squeaky Floor

A squeaky floor is caused by one of two problems:

  • an insufficiently fastened subfloor
  • a non-level subfloor  

As you may be able to deduce from their names, the source of both these problems lies below the hardwood floor itself. Likewise--but less obviously--they are both caused by friction between wood and metal. In the first case, this friction takes place between the subfloor and any loose or poorly driven nails. In the second case, it occurs when the hardwood floor flexes over slight depressions, causing the floorboard to slide up and down along its nail shafts.

The Solution, Part 1

The first step to ensuring a squeak-free floor is to get the subfloor fastened nice and tight to the underlying joists. Traditionally, this is done using subfloor nails. But no matter how well driven, nails have a way of working loose over time. Screws, on the other hand, when used in conjunction with any preexisting nails, offer a much more lasting solution.

Be sure to use coarse-threaded screws that penetrate at least 1-1/4 inch into the joist. To determine what length screw will accomplish this, you'll first need to determine how thick your subfloor is. Begin by measuring the distance between the rows of existing nail heads. This will tel you how far apart your floor joists are. If they are less than 19-1/2 inches apart, the subfloor is most likely 3/4 inch thick. If they are any farther apart than this, your subfloor may be as thick as 1-1/2 inches.

The Solution, Part 2

To address a non-level subfloor you'll need three things:

  • a yardstick, or long straightedge
  • a level
  • regular asphalt roofing shingles

Begin by using the level to locate the highest spot on the floor. From here you will be able to accurately identify any dips or depressions. You can do this by simply rotating the straightedge around in a circle; any low spots will be easy to identify.

Once you have located the low spots, use however many shingles you need to level them out. Cut these into pieces with a utility knife to fill in smaller dips, as necessary. Once they're in place, don't worry about nailing the shingles down; the flooring nails will take care of that later on. Rather, simply tack them into place so that they don't get knocked out of place as you move around.

Bottom Line

Preventing squeaks in a hardwood floor is easy, so long as you attend to it at the beginning of the project. By following the tips outlined above, you can ensure that your floor will remain silent for years and years to come! Talk to your local hardware experts, such as Upchurch's Hardwood Installation Refinish & Repair, for more information.