Q We have a large area of hardwood flooring that was installed 10 years ago and is now squeaking badly. There is access to the underside of this floor in our basement, which is unfinished. Can these squeaks be eliminated? How? The company that installed the floor says it is unable to correct the problem.
A Ask the company why the floor is squeaking and why they can't fix it.
A squeaking wooden floor is not "normal." It can be prevented and, in most cases, repaired.
If the contractor won't help you, you can try some remedies yourself.
First, realize that the squeak you hear when you walk across the floor typically is caused by loose boards. They may be moving against one another or rising up and down on the floor nails that were supposed to anchor them.
Luckily, the basement under the squeaky floor has an unfinished ceiling, so you can try some of these options:
• Observe from the basement while someone walks over the squeaky place. Drive shims -- thin wood wedges -- into the space above the joist where the squeak is coming from (but not so far that you end up raising the floor board). This should stop the up-and-down motion of the floor, eliminating the squeak.
• If that doesn't work, try using a Squeak-Ender. It's one of several devices that allow you to toenail the joist back tightly to the floor underlayment. Check for these at a building supply store or lumberyard.
• You also may be able to apply a thin stream of adhesive between the joist top and floorboard, if you can pry them apart slightly.
One more involved possibility is that your home's builder nailed the interior walls to the roof trusses. When the truss member moves, it pulls the walls away from the floor. If this is the case, when you walk across the floor, it would flex and the joists would bounce. The nails that hold the bottom of the wall assembly to the floor move up and down in the wood, causing the squeaks.
If you prefer, look for a flooring contactor or handyman who can do this kind of work. Do the usual diligence in hiring a contractor (checking with references, the Better Business Bureau, etc.).
It's not a bad idea, either, to observe as the work is being done.
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