When you step on a parquet or a floor made of wooden floorboards, creaks can be charming.
However, many people find this noise annoying because it occurs mainly on the typical walking paths and can cause other family members to wake up if one comes home late at night or goes to the bathroom at night.
Especially with older wooden floors, the creaking can also become so extreme that unpleasant background noise is created. Then it would be best if you first clarified the cause of the creaking.
Why does a wooden floor creak?
Solid wood floorboards and parquet are made of solid wood, which usually only changes to a small extent, but its volume constantly changes.
It absorbs moisture from the air and, if necessary, from the cleaning water, causing it to expand slightly. On the other hand, when the air is dry, it releases moisture and shrinks a little. This natural process is called swelling and shrinking.
When wood swells, tension can arise that causes creaking when walking on the floor. When shrinking, on the other hand, cavities form, which also lead to creaking, and this is a common cause of squeaky floors.
If the floor has been nailed, the nails can also cause creaking. They often loosen a little over time, so there is no longer a firm connection between the floor covering and the substructure.
Then the covering hits the slats when you step onto the floor. It is also possible that the nails rub against the wood or have rusted over time.
A fully glued parquet floor can creak because not enough glue has been applied to individual areas. This creates a cavity that makes noise when walked on. Poor gluing of the tongues and grooves causes the same problem.
A single plank that is cracked or broken can also be the cause. This is the easiest problem to fix, as all you have to do is replace the floorboard, and your home will be quiet again.
Floorboards are increasingly creaking and squeaking
The creaking of floorboards cannot be completely avoided. Even very old floorboards are still “alive,” and the wood can make noises due to its structure.
However, if noise pollution is becoming annoying and worsening, it is worth getting to the bottom of the cause and finding the best possible remedy.
Identifying the causes
If a floorboard develops louder and louder over time, creaking and squeaking when walking on, an inventory of the on-site conditions must be taken. When searching for the potential cause, the following points regarding the floor structure should be checked:
- Type of board attachment (screws, nails, glue)
- Condition of the planks (breaks, cracks)
- Distance to the ground or contact with the ground
- Distance of the planks to each other and to the walls
- Condition of the fillings with closed joints
From the result of which components are (could be) in contact with each other and what structural damage is present, the cause should be narrowed down to the possible materials involved:
- Wood rubs against metal
- Wood rubs against the wood
- Wood rubs on the ground
- Wood rubs against joint filling
Often nails and screws have loosened. Nailing or screwing should be done first.
Rusted metal fasteners must be replaced. When replacing, slightly larger diameter nails or screws should be used to strengthen fixation.
Additional gluing of the wooden floor and the fastening points can prevent the creaking floorboard movements.
If there are breaks or cracks within individual planks, the noise can be caused by rubbing together. The damage must be filled, and the only solution is to remove the defective floorboard in the case of complete breaks or splintering.
Joint fillings without sufficient elasticity must be removed and renewed. If the floorboards are partially or completely on the subsurface, such as screed, OSB panels, retaining strips, concrete, or construction foam, special lubricants help to prevent noise development. Warm linseed oil can help with bumps and edges and when the tongue and groove meet.
How to eliminate the creaking wood floor?
If loosened nails cause the creaking, driving them back in or replacing them usually only helps for a limited period. It is, therefore, better to fasten the creaking floorboards with screws.
This repair is less noticeable the smaller the heads of the floorboard screws are. If you want it to be almost invisible, drill small blind holes and, after setting the screws, close them with wooden pegs or putty.
Also, use fully threaded screws, i.e., those where the thread ends just below the screw head. Partially threaded screws would allow the planks to move and therefore are unlikely to eliminate the creaking.
With a screwed wooden floor, incorrect screws can also cause creaking. In this case, replacing them with full-thread screws can help.
Insufficient gluing of a parquet can be remedied by removing the corresponding wooden elements and gluing them again.
If the creaking occurs in many places, the only solution is usually a complete renovation of the floor. However, you do not necessarily have to replace the floorboards to fix squeaky floors.
If the floorboards are still intact and look good, you can remove them and lay support plates made of gypsum fiber, for example, on the substructure. Please note, however, that the floor will be higher due to support plates and that adjustments may be necessary to the room doors.
Differences in height also arise when different floors are laid on one floor. It may be easier to replace the substructure or its damaged parts and give the floorboards the necessary support.