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Historic Preservation - Technical Procedures

Spectitle:

Silencing A Squeaking Wood Floor

Procedure code:

0956004R

Source:

Hspg Prepared For Nps - Sero

Division:

Finishes

Section:

Wood Strip Flooring

Last Modified:

02/24/2012

Details:

Silencing A Squeaking Wood Floor



SILENCING A SQUEAKING WOOD FLOOR


PART 1---GENERAL

1.01 SUMMARY

    A.   This procedures includes guidance on silencing squeaky
         floors.  Squeaks in floor boards may result from loose
         nails or boards or from a gap between the subfloor and
         the joists.

    B.   When a subfloor is not tightly connected to the joists
         below or the floorboards above, a squeak results.  This
         is usually caused by drying and shrinking in the subfloor
         members.  The problem of a shrinking subfloor is similar
         to that of a shrinking or sagging joist; a space is
         created between the subfloor and the joist and a squeak
         occurs upon compression.

1.02 DEFINITIONS

    A.   A wood floor surface can be either a series of connected
         planks or parquet (small wood pieces arranged in
         decorative patterns).  The wood used is either plain sawn
         or quarter sawn.  Plank flooring, the more common type,
         is assembled by joining: butt joint, tongue and groove,
         shiplap, doweled or spline.  Wood floors are usually
         secured to the under structure by countersinking nails,
         blind-nailing, or screwing and plugging.


PART 2---PRODUCTS

2.01 MATERIALS

    A.   Flooring nails

    B.   Screws

    C.   Paraffin

    D.   Wood dowel for plugs

    E.   Hardwood wedge or shim, or length of 2x4 or 2x6 to bridge
         gap

2.03 EQUIPMENT

    A.   Drill to make pilot holes

    B.   Hammer

    C.   Nailset

    D.   Screwdriver (power screwdriver works better with old, dry
         wood)

    E.   Nails

    F.   Utility knife to cut excess from wedge


PART 3---EXECUTION

3.01 EXAMINATION

    A.   Check for problems caused by decay:  Signs of a decayed
         subfloor include buckling or discoloration of the
         finished floor, a spongy texture underfoot, water stains
         on the subfloor as seen from the underside, and general
         dampness.

    B.   Probe the wood with an ice pick to determine the
         existence of rot.

    C.   Inspect for signs of insect infestation such as mold,
         fungus, bore holes, and sawdust piles.

3.02 ERECTION, INSTALLATION, APPLICATION

    A.   First, try resetting the old nails.  

         1.   Cover the raised board with a carpet scrap or
              newspaper.  

         2.   Lay a wide wood block over the carpet and pound the
              block down with a heavy hammer.  

         3.   Tap all popped nails back into the floor with a
              nailset.  

         NOTE:  If resetting does not stop the squeak, try the
         following:

    B.   If the floorboard happens to be over a joist:

         1.   Drive the flooring nail through the offending board
              at the squeaking point through to the joist.

         2.   Drill a pilot hole measuring 3/4 the diameter of
              the nail.

         3.   Drive the nail in at an angle to prevent it from
              pulling up as easily.

         4.   Countersink the nail head and fill the hole with
              wood filler or color-matched putty.

    C.   When only subfloor exists underneath, drive in two nails
         as above, but at opposing angles.  The opposing angles
         prevents the boards from being pulled out if board
         shrinks or warps.

    D.   If more holding power is required, use a screw.

         1.   If the underside of the floor structure is
              accessible, screw loose board in place from below.
              If no access to the structure is available, screws
              can be adhered from above.

         2.   Drill pilot holes to ease the installation; also
              use soap or paraffin to lubricate the screw.

         3.   Counter-bore and plug the holes.

    E.   If the squeak is caused by a shrunken or slightly warped
         board, drive a nail into the crack between the boards.
         Follow same nailing procedures as outlined in Section
         3.02 B. above.

    F.   For squeaks resulting from sub-floor shrinkage or sagging
         joists:

         1.   Bridge gap between the subfloor and joist or sub-
              floor and finished floor by driving a small
              hardwood wedge or shim between the two.  A shingle
              will not work because of its poor compressive
              strength.  

              NOTE:  THE GOAL IS TO TIGHTEN THE GAP NOT DRIVE THE
              WEDGE ENTIRELY IN.

              -OR-

              Nail a length of 2x4 or 2x6, several inches longer
              than the gap, to the joist tight against the
              underside of the subfloor.

                             END OF SECTION