7 Tips to Prevent Squeaky Floors
Updated: Dec 20, 2022
Sure, you can call Squeak Knights to silence your squeaky floors or stairs, but how can you prevent noisy floors to begin with?
We’ve filled this post with tips meant to help you protect your floor and prevent your floors from squeaking. We hope that by following this advice you can prolong the life of your silent floors. Most of our tips refer to hardwood floors, however other floor types such as parquet, engineered hardwood, subfloors and stairs behave similarly, making these tips universal to most floor types.
Tip 1: Stable Environment in your Home
Flooring is influenced by the environment in your house. Everything from temperature, humidity, UV light and water will effect your floor, sub-floor and joists.
You might have noticed that your floor creaks only at certain times of year, most notably in the winter. Homes in Canada are significantly dryer in the winter, causing the hardwood and the sub-floor to shrink and contract. In warmer weather, on the other hand, wood expands as it absorbs humidity from the air. Wood is a natural material, therefore this contraction and expansion is normal. However, it’s this constant “breathing” which loosens the floor’s fasteners causing squeaky floors.
Keeping your house at a consistent temperature and more importantly at a controlled humidity level will help prevent the loosening of the screws and nails that hold your floor together. Make sure you own a device called a humidity meter, which usually displays indoor humidity, and temperature. The ThermoPro TP55 Indoor Humidity Monitor is an affordable and presentable option. You will want to place these in various locations around your house, to monitor multiple zones.
To keep your home at temperature friendly to wood floors take care not to let your thermostat regularly drop too much lower or rise much higher than room temperature. It's the constant change in temperature that you want to avoid.
To maintain humidity in the winter, install a whole-home humidifier directly onto your furnace, and make sure to maintain it seasonally. We've had a really good experience with the Aprilaire 500 series.
So many of our clients suffering from squeaky floors (and seasonal allergies) have a whole-home humidifier in various states of disrepair. It is essential for your and your floor's health to have a working humidifier.
Tip 2: Minimize Water Damage
Significant water damage from wet boots, wet mops, spills beside sinks and bathtubs will accelerate the distortion of your floors and stairs, causing permanent warping to your floor and undoubtedly create loose and squeaky areas. Always make sure to wipe off standing water, never use a soaked mop to wash your floors and keep boots inside spill proof plastic trays such as these.
There are cleaning products specifically designed to minimize damage to your hardwood floors. Bona is a popular brand.
Tip 3: Isolate Vibrating Appliances
Beware of washers and dryers causing squeaky floors. These two machines are well known for the force of vibration they generate and shear weight that they apply to your floor. If possible, place your machines on concrete or tile floors, away from any wood structure, in order to prevent their vibration from loosening your floor’s structure, causing squeaking.
Of course, this is not always possible.
In situations where there is no option but to place your washer and dryer onto wooden floors, find a way to isolate the vibrating machines from the floor. One option is to use anti-vibration rubber pads specifically designed for absorbing the vibration generated by your machines. As an added bonus, your machines will sound quieter.
Tip 4: Protection from the Sun
A surprising enemy of wood flooring is UV light from the sun. Not dissimilar to our skin, UV light will discolour the floor and in some cases can damage its protective coating. Not only will the floor fade and discolour, but gaps can appear which can allow damaging moisture to get inside. Curtains, sheers and blinds can protect your floor from excessive UV exposure. Keep your South and West facing windows covered whenever possible.
Tip 5: Protect High Traffic Areas
High traffic areas in your home will face a lot of wear. Often those areas scratch and discolour faster than less used parts of your floor. Typically, those areas start squeaking sooner and louder as well.
To extend the life of floors in high traffic areas try laying down area rugs. Rugs can absorb and soften the impact of your footsteps, thereby reducing the wear and tear which causes squeaks in your floor. Be careful not to use vinyl backed rugs - rugs with a vinyl backing can trap humidity which could cause the previously mentioned humidity related issues.
As an added tip, keep your slippers sand and dirt-free, and never wear outdoor shoes indoors. Particles like sand will not just wear the outer surface of your floor but will work their way into the internal layers of your floor.
Tip 6: Proper Cleaning
Cleaning your floor regularly is important. A properly cleaned floor can go a long way for maintaining it and preventing squeaks from forming.
Vacuum where possible. Sweeping can drag dirt rather than pick it up, often pushing dirt into the seams in your floor. Sand and dust are like sandpaper which scratches your floor’s finish. Without a strong surface coating, water and humidity can seep through and cause further damage.
Be careful on what products you use on your floor. Preserve your floor by only using products especially designed for cleaning hardwood floors. Bona is a popular wood floor cleaning brand. Leave your mop and bucket for your tiled floors.
If any cleaning solutions spill, wipe them up immediately. Any excessive liquid, even if design for cleaning hardwood, will permanently damage your floor, if not dried immediately.
Tip 7: Choose the Right Floor Type
Although your décor magazine of choice showcased a beautiful hardwood floor in the kitchen, the truth is that is a poor place for moisture sensitive hardwood flooring. When choosing a floor type, consider the function of the room and pick an appropriate material. Wood based flooring like hardwood and parquet is more susceptible to water damage and make for a poor choice in kitchens, washrooms and basements. Vinyl flooring for example is must more resistant to spills and humid environments, making it a better choice for a kitchen or bathroom.
Today’s marketplace is flooded with flooring materials, claiming to be the next best thing. Consult a professional before making a commitment. In this article we explain Engineered Hardwood and in this article we discuss how to choose Broadloom Carpeting.
If your Floor is Already Squeaking
If you want to silence your squeaky floors without floor removal or replacement, call Squeak Knights. We have diagnosed and permanently silenced hundreds of floors in the Greater Toronto Area – with no floor removal!
If you are outside the Toronto area, don't fret, see this list of DIY options you or your handyman could try.
Our passion is helping homeowners feel more comfortable in their own homes, so don’t be shy to contact us to book your assessment.