How to fix a squeaky carpeted floor (without damaging the carpet)

Posted in Home Improvement on June 25, 2018

If your carpeted floor squeak when you walk on it, perhaps you may wonder if there is a way of correcting it without damaging the carpeting.

Squeaking is produced by wood rubbing on wood or nails rubbing on wood — and for many people it’s as irritating as fingernails on a blackboard.

The three most common causes of squeaks are:

  1. loose or misted floor joists,
  2. a loose subfloor, and
  3. a hardwood floor pulling away from the subfloor.

If your your floor joists are exposed in the basement, you’re lucky; it should be easy to fix your squeaks without pulling up carpeting.

First, watch your floors from the basement as someone upstairs walks on them. Does the subfloor move or do the joists twist slightly? If not, chances are good that your hardwood flooring has come loose from the subfloor. The best way to fix that problem is to drill holes through the subfloor in the location of the squeak and use 1-in. or 1-1/4 in. screws to pull the floor tight to the subfloor (see figure).

If you didn’t have carpeting, you could also drive 16d finish nails through the hardwood floor at an angle, set the heads, then putty. Pairs of nails angled in opposite directions give the best grip.

If you see the subfloor moving as someone walks, then it’s not making firm contact with the joists, or a twisted joist is fitting a little under the weight. If you see twisted joists, make sure the wooden or metal diagonal bridging between the joists is tight. If extra support is needed, put in solid bridging (see figure).

If there are places where the subfloor isn’t touching the joists, drive wooden shims with a little glue on them between the top of the joists and the subfloor (see figure). If this is occurring over several feet of the joist, place a 2x4 along the joist, prop it lightly against the subfloor with another board, then nail or screw the 2x4 to the joist (see figure).

Be very gentle when you use either of these techniques, because they can pop your floor up in other places if you apply too much pressure. The goal is to make tight contact, not to push up the floor.