What Causes Squeaky, Creaking Floors and How It Can Be Avoided

Although creaky floor boards have a certain rustic, country charm, most people consider it a nuisance and would choose solid, quiet floors if given a choice. Besides the obvious importance of building floors strong and capable of supporting substantial loads, it’s also equally important to reduce movement of floor boards as a person walks across them, both to cut creaking and because movement can lead to material fatigue over time.

Put simply, creaking floors are caused by two or more components rubbing against each other causing friction, whose energy is often then partly converted into sound. Being that a floor only creaks when you walk across it, it’s easy to see that the noise is somehow caused by the movement of the floorboards. Although the cause may be simple enough to understand, fixing it can be a little more difficult.

But before we get into how to fix the creaking floor, I want to cover how to prevent the creaking floor in the first place. After you hear how to install creak-free floors, you’ll understand why it’s so much better of an idea to prevent it than to fix it. The solution is to simply hold back your natural urge to make your floorboards snug, and ensure there is a small gap between them to allow frictionless movement.

Another point that is important to be aware of is that wood is an inherently unstable material, and as such is subject to shape and size change over time, with factors like humidity, temperature, and wood-type playing crucial roles in the extent of this change. This is why flooring made out of natural wood must have spacers placed between them during installation to accommodate this expansion and contraction.For home construction financing and pricing guide you can find more here.

What Causes Squeaky, Creaking Floors and How It Can Be AvoidedYet, in other cases, flooring is installed directly against an existing wall or trim, and creaks against that. So, as you can see, most floor-creaking problems can be prevented by simply leaving a small gap between flooring and any adjacent materials. Having quiet surroundings helps in this stage of the job as creaks can range from unmistakable to mouse-like. It also helps to have a second person available for situations where one goes under the floor and one stays above.

Once you locate the creak, there are several options you can choose from to fix it:

  • Drive a screw or screws through the top of the flooring into the joists, securing it firmly. Although there are specialized screws available whose heads break off below the flooring surface, the holes must be puttied and stained to conceal the damage. Also, because the heads are gone, the screws don’t have as much holding power. I see this as a quick, often temporary fix, and prefer to only use this method when laying new flooring over the existing one – in which case I’ll just use normal screws that keep their heads.


  • If there is an accessible crawl-space you can get underneath the floor and drive wooden shims lathered with glue into gaps between flooring and joists. Only tap gently as you don’t want to raise the level of the floor! The shim will eliminate the previous vertical movement, and the glue will ensure that the shim isn’t dislodged. This is the best option if you don’t want to damage or replace your existing floor. You can also simply reinforce the section of floor in question with larger lumber, depending on the severity of the creaking. Ideally, since most situations call for the preservation of the existing floor, this is the preferred method.


  • There will be times, however, when there is no available crawl-space and you’ll have to remove the section of floor in question and make the necessary tweaks. This will most likely include adding additional screws tying the joists to the beams and additional glue in key points. In such cases, you should be prepared to remove a larger area than is actually necessary to aid in reinstalling the new flooring. Although tongue and groove boards can be customized to be placed into an area completely surrounded by other T&G boards without removing adjacent boards, the lower edge of both grooves must be sliced off as well as one of the 2 tongues. Glue must then be added generously to all 4 edges and the board must be pinned down firmly from above by stretching a stick of wood from the ceiling or other appropriate location. Success with this method is contingent on you being able to remove the old flooring without damaging the surrounding ones and having an identical board to take its place. Ensure that the glue doesn’t ooze out the top onto the floor finish – it only needs to be added on the subfloor itself, not on the tongue or in the groove.

Last, but not least, if the joint that is causing the creak isn’t a tongue and groove joint, you can slip a utility knife in there and slowly, carefully, slice away small bits of material. This is a quick fix for small creaks whose offending joint is visible and accessible from the floor surface. Just be careful that the knife doesn’t slip up onto the flooring by accident, making a nice big scratch across its surface – ergo, the “slowly, carefully” above!.  You can also read about http://www.staceycratehomes.com/interlocking-vs-traditional-floor-tiles/ interlocking and traditional floor tiles.

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