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How to fix squeaky hardwood floors

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  • Nov 30th, 2021 8:10 pm
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Newbie
Nov 28, 2021
1 posts

How to fix squeaky hardwood floors

My wife and I purchased a 100 yr old house and as you can imagine there are squeaky classic wooden floors.

When I spoke to a flooring guy he said I'd have to rip out the flooring to get access to the subfloor in order to nail them down again or put in new subflooring. However, this drastically increases the costs bc of the labour required.

I'd prefer to simply lay new laminate flooring over the existing flooring but I want to address the noise issues. I asked him if he could simply nail down the existing flooring but he said he can't find the joists without removing the existing flooring.

Is there anyway to address the squeaky floors without removing and relaying a new subfloor?

Thanks!
12 replies
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
4469 posts
3852 upvotes
Toronto
The existing flooring must be in horrible shape if you seriously want to spend money on laminate floor to cover it.

If there's squeaking, there's movement. If there's movement, any floating floor (i.e. laminate) will fail and you're wasting your money.

The only answer if it's in poor condition and squeaking all over the place is to pull it out (you do the work, it costs a few $100 for a disposal bin) and replace the subfloor with 3/4" plywood glued and screwed to the joists. If the joists don't have blocking, you put some in while you're at it to stiffen the entire thing up.

Then you can put whatever flooring you want on it and not be throwing money and material out the window.

Plywood these days is likely about $3/sq ft. That and a couple hundred bucks worth of PL Adhesive and screws plus a ton of your own labor and you'll have nice solid squeak free floors.

Welcome to owning a 100 year old home. 22 years later I'm still working on mine, but I did most of the heavy work about 10 years ago.
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
4469 posts
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Toronto
This is what's under the skin of your house. I started with my kitchen, and worked my way out through the entire main floor. I left the walls and ceilings up in the dining and living room, but took the floor down to the joists.

The idiot previous owner spent thousands on hardwood flooring that he put down on the plank subfloor, which ran in the same direction. It was madness. Brand new hardwood that flexed and squeaked the day we bought the house.

I lived with it for 12 years while we worked on higher priority things, and then jumped in.

I took 20 yards of material out of the 15 x 10 kitchen alone. It had 5 layers of flooring along with drywall on top of plaster. I did all the demo myself, and it was brutal, but I was 10 years younger then.

I had a carpenter I know do the joist blocking and subfloor. Then I installed the hardwood. I learned hardwood flooring in my first house in the early 90's, then did this entire house - all 4 floors over a span of 10 years.

Get in there and get your hands dirty. Rip stuff apart and rebuild it. You'll feel much more like you own the house once you do that.

Whether its one of my 50 year old motorcycles, this 100 year old house or my 5 year old truck, until you've taken something of it apart and put it back together, you don't really know it.
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Deal Expert
Feb 29, 2008
18669 posts
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Tarrana & The Ri…
100 year old house. Squeaky floors are in brand new houses too.
Deal Addict
Jun 27, 2015
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East York, ON
@torontotim Is installing hardwood floor and subfloor more difficult than tiling ? If you hire someone to do it for you whic one costs more per sqft? Average tile and floor quality and size and average trade...you know I do not want to hire the Picasso of tiling or flooring
Jow long did it take you to learn flooring initially
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Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
4469 posts
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Toronto
CuriousC wrote: @torontotim Is installing hardwood floor and subfloor more difficult than tiling ? If you hire someone to do it for you whic one costs more per sqft? Average tile and floor quality and size and average trade...you know I do not want to hire the Picasso of tiling or flooring
Jow long did it take you to learn flooring initially
I think hardwood is easier than tile, but I haven't done any tile. I was shown how to lay hardwood by another DIY type and then it was all just learn by doing. It's dead simple so long as you use the right tools and think it through. My first project was only about 100 sq ft in my first house, putting wood floors down in the front entrance and central hall of a small 2 bedroom bungalow.

Then I moved into my current home and over 10 years did 2000 sq ft - the entire house one 500 sq ft floor at a time. My next project was 1200 sq ft at the cottage.

No idea which is more expensive for installation labor. In my mind hardwood is slower as you have to select the boards to ensure proper overlap of joints etc. but pros do that really fast.
Deal Addict
Jan 12, 2017
1622 posts
948 upvotes
If it's squeaking pretty much everywhere, the only way to get it all out is ripping out the existing and putting in new subfloor. I imagine if you put down 3/4 ply on top (without removing existing), you could probably get 90%+ of the squeaking, especially if you plan to tile on top - you're looking at flooring screws every 6-12 inches! The squeaks in an old house come from wood rubbing and sliding along the flooring nails. You'll see these nails work their way up from the movement.

If you have a few spots that are bad that you want to get out and don't want to ruin the flooring, you can try something like this - https://www.amazon.ca/Squeeeeak-Elimina ... hen&sr=1-1
Otherwise, you could put some longer flooring screws down and make sure you hit joists. IMO, these two are really band aid solutions in an old house.

I think it comes down to what your longer term plan is. Does the floor have dips/require some releveling? Do you plan to gut your plaster and lathe walls (if you have them) at some point? If so, I would put a few screws into the really bad areas, and then do a completely new floor all together.

Good Luck!
shavesomepoints wrote: My wife and I purchased a 100 yr old house and as you can imagine there are squeaky classic wooden floors.

When I spoke to a flooring guy he said I'd have to rip out the flooring to get access to the subfloor in order to nail them down again or put in new subflooring. However, this drastically increases the costs bc of the labour required.

I'd prefer to simply lay new laminate flooring over the existing flooring but I want to address the noise issues. I asked him if he could simply nail down the existing flooring but he said he can't find the joists without removing the existing flooring.

Is there anyway to address the squeaky floors without removing and relaying a new subfloor?

Thanks!
Penalty Box
Jun 24, 2015
6876 posts
2161 upvotes
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My inlaws replaced their floors with new hard wood, but it still squeaks like crazy. The floor installer did not put extra screws in the sub floor he just lay wood over it and left it as is. sometimes squeaks bothers people some people they just live with it
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Deal Addict
Mar 22, 2017
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GoodFellaz wrote: My inlaws replaced their floors with new hard wood, but it still squeaks like crazy. The floor installer did not put extra screws in the sub floor he just lay wood over it and left it as is. sometimes squeaks bothers people some people they just live with it
That is madness. I specified in my contract that they had to screws down the subfloor, and I took some time off work to watch them to make sure they did it. The biggest perk of going down to the subfloor is being able to fix the squeaks!
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Oct 2, 2018
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You likely will never get 100% noise free, however might get 95-98% noise free.....especially in an older house.

When I did my existing house I had the contractor screw all the subflooring down and had him do a walkover at 5pm, the house is empty then and you can discern the smallest squeaks.

After that 5pm walk through, any additional spots were screwed down once more, get the sub floor as squeak free as possible.

Then the hardwood went in, most rooms are pretty much squeak free, however large open concept living/dining/kitchen is 95-98% noise free. I'm in a house that is 70 years old perhaps, no bracing on the floor joists and a central one had slightly shifted/rotated.

All things considered very happy, if you can get things screwed down on the sub floor do a walkthrough afterwards at night to get that residual tough spot. My contractor thought everything was great, after the walkthrough at night in a quiet environment he could also hear a couple of spots and with a few additional screws made for a much better job.
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Apr 24, 2006
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Is there a way to eliminate squeaks from below in an unfinished basement?
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Deal Addict
Sep 22, 2009
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1. When you purchase a very old home, expect things to be replaced.
2. Do it right the first time. If you do a half-@ss job (putting laminate flooring over the existing flooring), expect to pay more to re-do it in the future.
3. There is no easy way.
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Jan 2, 2012
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ndiniwachojeff wrote: Is there a way to eliminate squeaks from below in an unfinished basement?
You'll never be able to determine where the squeak is happening, especially if you have hardwood flooring.

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