How to Fix Squeaky Floors by Using a Nail Gun
Squeaky floors happen even though you might not want them to.
They happen because the wood flooring comes up from the subfloor due to the house settling, materials drying out, changes in the weather, boards rub together, or general movement in the flooring.
Sometimes the floor squeaks because of a flaw in the original construction, sometimes it’s just the materials going through changes.
However, a squeaky floor does not signal that the house is falling apart, so breathe easy.
Here’s how you can fix squeaky floors by using a nail gun and stop the noise from driving you nuts.
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Figure Out the Cause or Source of the Squeak
As previously mentioned, there can be a few reasons for a squeaky floor. Depending on how your house was built, it could be the sub-flooring coming up from the joists or the boards drying out and rubbing against one another.
Both are fixable, and you can use a nail gun for both fixes, but you need to find out why and how they’re squeaking before you go to work. You want to get as close to the source of the squeak as possible so your efforts with the nail gun are effective if used maintaining proper safety rules.
Repairing a Separating Subfloor at the Joist
Sometimes the subfloor separates from the floor joists and causes the floor to squeak. This is due in part to the nails squeaking against the wood as the subflooring rocks up and down when someone walks across the loose joist. How you use your nail gun to make this repair depends on the severity of the separation.
In the event that the gap is a small one, you can use a shim to fill the gap and secure it in place with construction glue and short nails. Glue the shim first, then slide it into the gap.
Make sure that the shim fills the gap and that you don’t hear a squeak or see movement when someone steps on the floor. Once you’re certain that the shim is supporting the subflooring and the glue is holding it in place securely, you can bring out the nail gun.
Drive the nails in on an angle so it goes through all layers. Make sure to use nails that are shorter than the overall thickness of the subflooring and top. You want to avoid leaving a nail tip sticking out for someone to step on.
When the gap is wider and a shim isn’t sufficient to fill in space, use a wider piece of wood to fill the gap. Scrap wood is fine as long as it keeps the floor level and won’t create a bump on the top side. You can also nail blocks to either side of the joist for additional support.
Repairing a Subfloor Separating From the Floor
The floor and subflooring can separate from one another in areas that are nowhere near the joist.
There is any number of reasons for the separation, but your nail gun can make short work of the issue.
Locate where the flooring is separating and load your nail gun with screws that are shorter than the overall width of the layers. Use two or three nails in any given area, but no more.
Too many nails will weaken the wood fibers and cause the flooring to separate again at some point.
When the flooring separates due to material breakdown, the repair is much more difficult. Avoid this scenario and stick to using a minimal amount of nails.
Repairing a Squeak on the Top Side of the Floor
Sometimes you can’t get to the underside of the floor without extensive work. In this situation, you can still use your nail gun to secure the section of flooring, but you’ll do it from the top.
Locate the source of the squeak and use a stud finder to locate the joist nearest to the sound. Switch to a finish nail or a type of nail that is long and thin for a discrete repair.
Start by drilling a small pilot hole about a half-inch in from the edge of the squeaking board. Hold the nail gun on a slight angle and drive the nail into the floor. Repeat one more time with a nail on the opposite angle.
You can fill in the resulting holes with wood filler that matches the color of your flooring.
Fixing a Squeak Underneath Carpeting
Carpeting presents its own set of problems. You don’t want to drive a nail directly through the carpet because the head may stick out and create a hazard. Locate the squeak and use a utility knife to cut a small flap in the carpet.
Make sure to keep the flap small enough to not be visible, but large enough for you to work through. Pull the flap back and use the method for repairing a squeak from the top side of the floor with your nail gun.
Once you’re finished, glue the carpet back to the flooring with a glue designed for the purpose.
Stopping the squeak in your flooring is a relatively simple task. But just like any other home DIY project, you should take the time to do it right the first time.
Determine the source of the squeak, get the right materials to make an effective repair, and use your nail gun in an appropriate fashion.
This repair is semi-permanent and will last a long time when you prepare and take the correct steps to get the job done.