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Mellowing the Squeak in Your Douglas Fir Floors

March 11, 2011 by | nell | There have been 0 comments

Krrrr…Creak! Krrrrr…Crack! Krrr… Crunch! We’ve all heard the noises Douglas fir wood flooring can make and like most homeowners with a sixth sense, can point to the spot where they happen – near the front door, by the bed, or on your way to the kitchen. If you’re really good, you can anticipate the precise moment it will happen and lip sync along. So what do you do? Live and let be or go nuts? Either way, we’d like to help set your squeaky floorboards straight and go over the causes and cures for those pesky squeaks.

The cause behind the squeaks
Home flooring is usually made up of three layers: the floor, the subfloor or decking, and the joists. Squeaks tend to happen when the subfloor is loose and not flush against the joists. Every time you step on that spot, it slides along the nails that are supposed to be holding it in place, pushing it down and up from the weight of your step. Voilà! You’re making music, though not exactly your favorite. Those other creaks, cracks, and crunches come from the friction between boards still in place and the one that’s loose and floor joists shrinking over time.

Although Douglas fir is a durable product, it’s susceptible to the same wear and tear as other parts of your home – more so if not properly cared for. You might think an older home wouldn’t be as charming without its occasional grunts and groans. We all know age defies gravity and an old home is no exception. So, let’s start off easy.

The cures behind the squeaks
There are some simple tricks you can try before calling a specialist. You’ll end up saving yourself a chunk of change and have a greater appreciation of your home’s, shall we say, temperament. It may make you feel a sense of accomplishment too. Besides, most squeaks can be silenced with stuff already in your home and a bit o’ brawn. Your method of action is part preference and part squeak. IF you ever feel the project is too much to handle, contact a professional.

Quick – I’ll do it later – Fix: Furniture
1. Rearrange furniture to hide squeaky floorboard.

2. Place furniture coasters beneath fixtures before sliding and pulling across the floor.

3. Position furniture over squeak and forget about it.

Rubbing floorboards: Talcum Powder + Broom
1. Locate the squeak on the floorboard.

2. Spread talcum powder in between the seams of the squeaky and non-squeaky boards. Powdered graphite is a messier alternative, but keep the liquid form away from floors.

3. Brush the powder into the seam along the board.

4. Step on the boards to work in the talcum powder.

5. Repeat a few times until squeak is gone.

6. Please note this is temporary fix.

Loose subfloor: Hammer + Nails

1. Get flooring nails in 6d or 8d finishing size.

2. Locate the loose floorboard.

3. Predrill a hole using a bit slightly smaller than the nail shank - this prevents premature splitting. Do not hit the subfloor.

4. Put nail in new hole and hold down the floorboard.

5. Drive the nail in at an angle toward the center of the board and down into the subfloor, keeping pressure on the floorboard.

6. Repeat a couple of times until the squeak softens or is gone.

Basement access: Screwdriver + Screws

1. Get square headed screws 1 ½ to 2” long.

2. Get someone to stand on the loose spot above pressing it against the subfloor and joist.

3. Drive the screw in at an angle.

4. Make sure it passes through the joist up into the subfloor (but not the floor itself).

5. Repeat until squeak softens or is gone.

Basement access: Bridging + Joists

1. Get a small square of 3/4” plywood and construction adhesive.

2. Put adhesive on one side of plywood.

3. Get someone to stand on the squeaky spot.

4. Place plywood over squeaky seam – glue side up.

5. Screw 4 or 6 screws through plywood and into the subfloor.

Basement access: Blocking + Joists

1. Get a 2x3 block of wood and construction adhesive.

2. Get someone to stand on the loose spot to press it down.

3. Put adhesive on two sides of the 2x3 block.

4. Place the block along the joist just below the squeaky spot – the block should be touching the joist and the subfloor.

5. Screw the block to the joist.

6. Screw the block to the subfloor.

To shim or not to shim?
Shims, those thin wedges of wood, are best left for leveling furniture on an uneven floor. We do not recommend the advice given in your dusty home improvement book to hammer a shim or two into your Douglas fir floorboards or through the joists below. Doing this is like your 5-year-old squeezing an extra crayon into an 8-pack box. Another area of your flooring will creep up and Voilà! -- more music.

If all else fails, poorly installed flooring, water damage, an uneven subfloor, or joist damage is likely to blame. Do your best to pinpoint the problem and then, call up a contractor. We suggest calling at least three to get a variety of quotes. And, don’t shy away from requesting recent references. As with squeaks, it’s wise to be thorough in your search.

- Nicole Morales

This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, squeaky floors

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