Will A Rug Help Fix A Squeaky Floor?

Squeaky floors can be annoyingly loud, especially in old homes with wooden floorboards. But can something as simple as a rug actually help reduce or even eliminate the squeaks?

Placing a thick, padded rug over a squeaky floor area will help muffle the sounds, but does not permanently fix the underlying cause. Repairing loose boards or securing the subfloor is needed for a long-term solution.

While rugs can temporarily mask squeaking sounds, they don’t resolve the root issue. Let’s look at how well carpets work to dampen noise and the best ways to stop squeaks for good.

What Causes Squeaky Flooring?

Before diving into solutions, it helps to understand exactly what causes floors to squeak. Here are the main culprits behind noisy floors:

  • Natural contraction/expansion of wood – As temperature and humidity levels change, wood naturally expands and contracts slightly. This cyclic movement loosens floorboards.
  • Improper installation – If subflooring or floorboards were not properly secured, gaps can form that create noise. Nails missing joists or inadequate glue are common issues.
  • Structural settling – Over decades of use, houses settle and floor framing can become loose. This allows surfaces to rub together, causing squeaks.
  • Excessive loads – Heavy furniture, appliances, or foot traffic puts extra strain on flooring over time, resulting in noise.

Knowing the source of the squeaking can help determine the best fix. Now let’s explore your options for resolving it.

Do Rugs and Carpets Reduce Squeaking?

Thick padded rugs and carpets are commonly used to mask squeaking noises, but they don’t fix the underlying issue. The padding absorbs vibrations and sound waves, muffling the noise.

Heavier rugs are more effective. But whenever the rug is removed, the squeaking will resume. Despite being a temporary solution, rugs are useful while renovating a floor and provide some soundproofing benefit. Permanently repairing squeaks is still required for a lasting solution.

Quick DIY Solutions for Squeaky Floors

For relatively minor squeaking isolated to a small area, there are a few easy DIY tricks you can try before taking on major repairs:

  • Use shims – Inserting wooden shims into gaps beneath floorboards can eliminate space so they don’t rub together. Just slip them in tight with glue or hammer them in gently.
  • Apply baby powder – Sprinkling talcum or baby powder between boards can work as a lubricant to reduce friction that causes noise.
  • Spray foam filler – Foam sealants designed for windows can expand into gaps and create a tighter surface. Use sparingly between boards.
  • Add carpet or rugs – This masks noises rather than fixing them but can provide a quick improvement. Heavy, padded rugs work best.

These simple solutions may do the trick for minor squeaks. But for more extensive issues or loud squeaking, further repairs will likely be needed.

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Effective Repairs for Squeaky Floors

To fully resolve significant squeaking throughout a floor, you’ll need to take on some more advanced repairs. Here are some of the most effective options:

Refasten Loose Floorboards

Loose boards that rub against subflooring or adjacent boards cause most squeaking. Refastening them is typically the best permanent solution. Here are a few methods:

  • Screw floorboards – Using specialty screws made for floors, like Spax PowerLags, to pull boards flush again is very effective. Predrill holes to avoid splitting wood. Apply adhesive like Liquid Nails between boards for added strength.
  • Renail floorboards – For tongued boards, renailing into joists or adding ring shank nails can pull them tight again. An air nailer makes this job easier.
  • Glue down floorboards – Construction adhesives are another option for securing boards. Liquid Nails, PL Premium, and Gorilla Wood Glue are top choices that bond well.

Applying screws or adhesive at 12″ intervals along the length of each squeaking board ensures a rigid, noise-free surface. Focus on areas near walls where movement naturally occurs.

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Refasten Subflooring

If the subfloor itself has worked loose, causing floorboards above to move, refastening it is needed. From below, here’s how:

  • Add screws – Drill up through subfloor into joists, sinking 3-4″ screws at 12″ intervals. Predrilling avoids splitting subfloor panels.
  • Renail subfloor – Use a pneumatic flooring nailer with 2″ nails to thoroughly renail the subfloor to joists. Ring shank nails grip best.
  • Apply construction adhesive – After renailing, apply adhesive like Liquid Nails in a zig-zag pattern between subfloor and joists for a permanent bond.

With the subfloor securely reattached, the floor should no longer flex and squeak. Be sure to locate and address any areas where subfloor has delaminated or wood has severely warped or cracked, which requires replacing damaged sections.

Level Uneven Floors

Over time, floors can develop low spots where subfloor/floorboard joints gap and move under load. Leveling the floor prevents this.

  • Sand down high spots – For small low areas, sand surrounding floor with an orbital sander or belt sander to flatten it.
  • Use floor leveler – For dips over 1″, apply layers of self-leveling compound like Mapei Ultraplan Easy until flush with surrounding floor.
  • Shim beneath joists – For large low sections, cut shims to place beneath joists and raise them. Secure with construction adhesive.

Leveling the floor takes away gaps that can lead to noise. Be cautious not to sand too aggressively and damage the floor’s finish.

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Increase Rigidity in Subfloor

Poorly built or aging subfloors can flex excessively, leading to squeaks. Stiffening the subfloor helps reduce movement.

  • Add braces – Nail hardwood cross-braces between floor joists below problem areas to limit flexing.
  • Install plywood overlay – Gluing a new plywood layer over the entire subfloor creates a stronger, more rigid surface.
  • Sister joists – Nail new companion joists alongside existing ones to double their thickness and stiffness.

Upgrading areas with inadequate subflooring is the lasting solution for chronic squeaking in these locations.

Isolate Flooring from Basements/Crawlspaces

Air leaks from basements or crawlspaces can force flooring upward, creating gaps that squeak under load. Sealing these spaces can help.

  • Install vapor barrier – In basements, cover exposed earth with a 6 mil polyethylene vapor barrier. Seal seams and edges.
  • Close vents – Temporarily seal crawlspace vents in warmer months when moisture levels are higher outdoors.
  • Insulate floors – Adding insulation like Roxul Safe’N’Sound batts between floor joists also helps isolate floors from conditions below.

Along with sealing air leaks in walls, addressing basement/crawlspace moisture prevents floors from buckling and moving. Proper humidity levels should be maintained.

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When to Call a Professional for Squeaky Floors

While many squeaks can be fixed with DIY methods, it’s smart to call in a professional flooring contractor for:

  • Extensive squeaking – If noises are very loud and occur throughout much of the floor, a full inspection and major repairs are likely needed.
  • Inaccessible areas – Crawlspaces, basements, or floors with no access below require a pro to open up and properly address underlying issues.
  • Serious structural issues – Severely warped, buckled or sagging subfloors indicative of major problems are best handled by experts.
  • Hard-to-isolate squeak source – If you can’t pinpoint the exact location(s) generating noise, an experienced contractor can track it down.
  • Uneven floors – Sanding or leveling uneven boards is skilled work to avoid damage, best left to professionals.

While a few scattered squeaks can be DIYed, it doesn’t hurt to get a professional opinion if noises are widespread or you’re unsure of the cause. They can assess if repairs are needed beyond just refastening.

Tips for Preventing Future Squeaking

To help avoid recurring squeaky floors after repairs, keep these tips in mind:

  • Maintain humidity – Keep indoor relative humidity around 45% to minimize wood movement. Use dehumidifiers/humidifiers.
  • Leave expansion gaps – When installing new floors or replacing boards, allow 1/8-3/16″ expansion gaps along walls for movement.
  • Avoid excessive moisture – Prevent leaks promptly and ventilate kitchens/bathrooms to limit humidity contacting floors.
  • Distribute heavy items – Position heavy appliances/furniture carefully to minimize concentrated loads.
  • Inspect floors annually – Check for new gaps or movement that could lead to squeaks, addressing issues early.

With proper home humidity and load distribution, newly fastened floors should remain quiet for decades. But periodic inspections help catch problems before major squeaking recurs.

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Common Squeaky Floor Repair Costs

Here are typical price ranges for professional squeaky floor repairs:

  • Floor inspection – $100 to $200 per visit to isolate cause.
  • Minor fastening/gluing – $200 to $600 if fixes are limited.
  • Floor refastening – $4 to $8 per sq. ft for screw/nail work.
  • Floor leveling – $3 to $6 per sq. ft depending on severity.
  • Subfloor repairs – $6 to $12 per sq. ft to reinforce and refasten.
  • Floor replacement – $6 to $15 per sq. ft for new hardwood installation.

Labor and materials to refasten floors or subflooring averages $600 to $2,000 for a 10′ x 10′ room. Full floor replacement with new subfloor can cost $6,000 or more.

Conclusion

A rug can help muffle squeaky floor sounds but won’t permanently fix the underlying cause. Thick, padded rugs absorb vibrations and limit noise transfer, providing temporary relief. However, repairing loose floorboards or securing the subfloor is needed to resolve it long-term.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Squeaky floors are caused by natural wood movement, improper installation, settling, and heavy loads.
  • Quick fixes like shims and powder briefly help minor squeaks.
  • For full repairs, thoroughly refasten floorboards and subfloor to joists.
  • Leveling uneven areas and stiffening the subfloor also helps reduce noise.
  • Maintaining proper humidity and evenly distributing weight prevents reoccurrence.
  • Professionals are needed for extensive squeaking or structural issues.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can rugs permanently fix squeaky floors?

Rugs only muffle squeaking temporarily. Refastening floorboards or subfloor is required for a permanent solution. However, rugs can dampen noises while renovating floors.

What is the best way to stop a squeaky floor?

Screwing or nailing floorboards into joists with construction adhesive provides the most effective and permanent solution. This pulls boards flush and creates a rigid surface.

How much does it cost to repair a squeaky floor?

On average, expect to pay $600 to $2,000 to have 10′ x 10′ of flooring professionally refastened and repaired. Costs depend on the scope of work needed. Leveling or subfloor repairs add expense.

Can I fix squeaky floors myself?

For minor isolated squeaks, DIY solutions like using shims or construction adhesive in gaps can work. But for loud, widespread noises across floors it is best to hire a contractor.

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