Continued from last week ...
As we concluded last week’s article, I said we would look at hardwood floors and staircases next time. If you have a pesky squeak in an area of your hardwood floors, this may be due to a loose sub-floor as in the previous examples, but many times the problem is due to less than an adequate amount of nails in each plank.
If this is the root problem with your floor, it is about the simplest to repair. Knowing the thickness of the sub-floor plus a half inch will determine the screw length needed.
I suggest you find a screw design made to assist in cutting through hardwood. The Kreg Company offers a screw very well suited for this application and is available from Lowe’s. Originally designed for pocket screw applications, this screw has a self tapping edge cut into the point of the screw allowing it to cut through the hard wood fiber without pre-drilling.
You do, however, want to pre-drill through the sub-floor material. This prevents the threads of the fastener from fighting against you as you try to penetrate the hardwood layer.
The screw head has a flat washer built into the design which will prevent you from sinking the screw in too far. You can use other screw designs, such as a flat head screw, but you have to be careful not to sink it below the surface of the sub-floor or risk the possibility of popping through the surface of your hardwood floor.
In most cases, you will be going through a three-quarters of an inch thick sub-floor and into the three-quarter of an inch thick hardwood layer, so a 1¼-inch pocket hole screw will work well. A maximum of 1⅜ inch can be used. This stops the tip of the screw one-eighth of an inch from the top surface of the floor. Once you have the screw in hand, size your pre-drilling bit slightly larger than the outer threads of the screw to prevent the threads from fighting against you through the sub-floor layer.
Having a second person locate the squeak from above and remain standing on the spot while you install a half dozen screws around the area from below will solve the problem. If you have more than one area causing squeaks, continue this process under all areas of concern.
When a staircase has squeaky steps, you can stop them if you have access to the bottom of the staircase unit. Assuming you do, find the step that is causing you the problem. Once you have identified the problem step, watch what happens as a second person walks up and down the step. Usually you can see the step rise and fall under the weight of the person.
If there is a gap between the bottom of the step and the top of the step frame, you can wedge a wooden shim in the gap with a little adhesive caulk added. This will stop most step squeaks, although running a screw at an angle through the step frame and into the step tread while the person is stepping directly on the step will work well if you feel comfortable with that process.
A couple of screws from each side of the step frame or Stringer, as it is called, will give the best results.
Now the only thing you have to worry about is how to tell when your teenager is trying to sneak in after curfew.
Questions or concerns about do-it-yourself projects you are facing may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
JD Norris is the owner/operator of DreamMaker Bath&Kitchen and a certified S.C. Master Builder, certified “Aging in Place” Specialist and certified Green Professional.