Historic Preservation - Technical Procedures
Silencing A Squeaking Wood Floor
Hspg Prepared For Nps - Sero
Wood Strip Flooring
Silencing A Squeaking Wood Floor
SILENCING A SQUEAKING WOOD FLOOR
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
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.
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.
A. Flooring nails
D. Wood dowel for plugs
E. Hardwood wedge or shim, or length of 2x4 or 2x6 to bridge
A. Drill to make pilot holes
D. Screwdriver (power screwdriver works better with old, dry
F. Utility knife to cut excess from wedge
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
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
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
NOTE: If resetting does not stop the squeak, try the
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
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
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
NOTE: THE GOAL IS TO TIGHTEN THE GAP NOT DRIVE THE
WEDGE ENTIRELY IN.
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