If you want to fix squeaky floorboards, there are a few things you should know about your house—one being you likely live in a home built between 1900 and 1950 with suspended ground floors. In the 1950s, suspended ground floors gave way to ground-bearing concrete floors, where the flooring is laid directly on top of a slab of concrete or stone. Ground-bearing concrete floors rarely have squeaky floorboards.
Suspended ground floors have two elements relevant to your squeaky situation—the joists and the boards themselves.
Joists are the large wooden beams that bear the weight of your floorboards. They run perpendicular to the boarding and if you have wood floors, you can typically tell where they are by the nails in your floor. If your floors are covered by carpet or vinyl, there are other ways to locate the joists.
What causes squeaky floorboards?
When it comes to squeaky floors, the relationship between your joists and floorboards is almost always the culprit. Gaps form over time, which ultimately cause the annoying squeaking. To remedy this, you’re going to need to get underneath your floor, so look for access through a basement or crawlspace. You’ll need at least one other person, wood shims, and/or construction adhesive. See the below-ground fix below.
If you don’t have access to a basement or crawlspace, there are ways to address the issue above ground, but it’s slightly more invasive. You’re going to need special screws or nails and wood filler. See the above-ground fix below.
If you’re lucky, the squeaking may simply be caused by your floorboards rubbing up against one another. If this is the case, your maintenance is going to be an entirely above-ground operation. All you’ll need is talc or powdered graphite. See quick fix #1.
If you try everything suggested below and your floorboards won’t quiet down, you may have defective joists. If this is the case, you’ll need to call in a professional. Don’t let this discourage you from trying, though. Joists are meant to last for the lifespan of your home, so they’re incredibly strong. Fixing your squeaky floorboards is more than likely a completely manageable DIY project.