Ask Maxwell: How Do I Fix a Squeaky Floor?

published Apr 7, 2021
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I like to get ready before my son wakes up in the morning, but lately, he’s been waking up when I start walking around in the morning! He’s got a sound machine in his room but the floor does creak in the hallway. Any ideas on getting a creaky floor to stop creaking? Or helping a kid sleep past 5:30 like he used to? 


Dear Emily,

Thanks so much for this question, because:

a.) a quiet morning with children still asleep is one of the most precious things in life and

b.) I had to do a bunch of research to find you an answer and it was FASCINATING.

Here’s what I found. This fix should be really easy and really satisfying.

What Is The Problem, Actually?

When a wood floor is squeaking, it’s due to the fact that it’s become loose from the joists below it that it should be firmly tied to. This can happen with all floors as they age, and particularly when it is DRY DRY DRY inside in the winter. In the winter, you will easily notice that your wood floors show gaps between the boards due to dryness, but this shouldn’t cause a squeak by itself.

To cure it you can go in two directions:

1. The Hard Way: go below the floor and shim up or pull down the boards so they are firm again. This is hard if you don’t have access. This video from Home Depot will give you a nice visual. Additionally, Squeak-Ender is a product that will do exactly this.

2. The Easy Way: stay on top of the floor and check out these quick and dirty solutions!

Work Baby Powder, Baking Soda or Powdered Graphite into the Seams
A quick test with either of the above is a great first place to start. While not a foolproof long term solution, it’s easy! Simply sprinkle on your floor and work into the cracks between squeaking boards and then clean up. This will lubricate the boards and stop the friction that is causing the noise. If it doesn’t work, proceed to the next solution …

Work WD-40 into the Seams
I LOVE this solution, since WD-40 is an old favorite of mine and it seems to do EVERYTHING (even though it’s probably toxic and now that it’s 2021, I should probably be skeptical — but using it on your floors should be okay). In this scenario WD-40 works just like the previous solution — it goes into the space between the boards, lubricates them and stops the friction from making all the noise. For big areas you can even use large amounts of WD-40 and squeegee it across your floor until it disappears into all the cracks. Watch it here in a video.

Screw Down your Floor with Squeeeeek No More O’Berry Counter Snap Kit
This is more involved, BUT it will really pull your floorboards firmly into place on their joists. It also isn’t that complicated, but you do need to use drill with a screw attachment.

Wherever your board is “soft” and moving (which is causing the squeaks) you simply drill one of these special screws through the board and into the sub-floor or joist below. It PULLS DOWN your loose board, makes it TIGHT, and then SNAPS OFF right below the floor so you see NO SCREW! It’s genius. All you have is a tiny hole that you can easily fill with a wax pencil like this.

This last is a really good solution and I would recommend it absolutely if the first two don’t work. If you want to see it done in real time, this video with Tom Silva is mesmerizing.

So, dear Emily, I hope one of these solves the problem and please be sure to email me back and let me know. If you include a photo and a testimonial, I’ll be sure to add it at the bottom of my next Ask Maxwell. It really helps others to see when these things work!

Best, M

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Maxwell Ryan is a father and was an elementary school teacher in NYC before founding Apartment Therapy. He’d love to answer your question: This piece was created for Cubby, our weekly newsletter for families at home. Want more? Sign up here for a weekly splash of fun and good ideas for families with kids.

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