Why do wood floors creak?

When a wood floor creaks, it is caused by two or more elements rubbing against each other under load, resulting in noise. This can occur due to the wood rubbing against nails, walls, or other wooden elements.

Understanding that creaking can only occur if there is enough play is critical. So, the wood must be able to move.

There is only a play if the wood floors are fully (and correctly) glued to the subfloor. There is very little squeaking or creaking. If the wood flooring is not glued, it may move under load and rub against other elements.

The cause of your floorboard creaking cannot be determined in general because various factors can cause floorboard creaking. Consider the following steps to determine what is causing your floorboards to creak:

Nailed wooden floors

The squeaky wooden floors are the ones that are still nailed down. Such parquets are typically found only in historic homes. When you walk over them, they creak beautifully (or horribly).

The friction of the wood on the fastening nails causes this creaking. Rubbing your nails up and down as you walk creates a sound that travels through the floor and is projected into the room (and often neighboring rooms).

The nails on a nailed wooden floor become looser as it ages. As a result, creaking usually gets worse over time. There are a few (though limited) solutions if you’re bothered by a creaky floor.

If the nails on a creaking old wooden floor are visible, you can “impregnate” them with lubricating oil or graphite to reduce friction. However, this is only appropriate for local use and usually lasts for a short time.

The next major operation would be to remove the nails from the wood floors in specific locations or all over the surface and replace them with new nails or screws. Although screws take up more space, they virtually eliminate annoying creaking. Furthermore, this method works with both exposed and hidden nails.

Unfortunately, replacing the entire subfloor (also known as screed) is sometimes required to build a new substructure.

The same floor covering can then be reinstalled on top. This takes time, but when done correctly, the squeaking stops completely.

The wood floors can be replaced as a last resort. This saves time and is usually the simplest solution to a problem.

Floating wooden floors

The risk of a wood floor creaking is low if floating, but it can still happen. In such a case, it could be for one of the following reasons:

The wood floors were installed on an uneven surface. As a result, when walked on, the planks move too much up and down.

The impact sound underlay is too soft, allowing the wood floors to move too freely.

Moisture penetrates the underlay, moistening and swelling parts of the wood floors. Damp sections (e.g., tongue and groove) between the floorboards no longer fit perfectly and begin to squeak under load and movement.

The temperature in the room fluctuates too much, causing the planks to shift and warp over time. This results in unequal pressure conditions between the displaced floorboards. These pressure changes cause a creaking sound.

Regarding reducing footfall noise, floating wood floors make much sense, especially in the rooms below.

Glued wood floors

Fully glued wood floors significantly reduce the risk of creaking noise. There is almost no play, even under load, because the planks are firmly glued to the subfloor.

However, creaking can occur in very rare cases. In most cases, this is due to an uneven floor or the glue used has become brittle.

Uneven-poured foundations (usually with flow concrete) are uncommon in more modern buildings. As a result, creaking in new buildings with wood floors is uncommon, even when cheap glue is used.

It is common for the surface of an old house to be uneven. This is especially true in some cases. In these cases, the wood floors must be removed and replaced. However, the subsoil must be leveled in between; otherwise, you will have the same problem in a few years.

In short, if a wood floor is glued over the entire surface and still creaks, it must be completely lifted out, the underlay leveled, and a new covering glued to it with high-quality adhesive.

How do you fix the creaking?

If the squeaking wood floors are because of unevenness in the screed, it is best to remove the floorboards, level them underneath, and reinstall them.

You must replace the impact sound mat if it creaks because it is too soft. This means removing the wood floors, replacing them with a mat, and then putting them back in.

If the moisture comes from the concrete or lower floors, you will need to remove the planks (and let them dry).

However, a vapor barrier must be installed beneath the impact sound mat to keep moisture from below. After it has sufficiently regenerated, you can reinstall the wood floors.

If the cause is a change in room temperature, you have two choices: First, ensure that the temperature no longer varies significantly.

But what if the creaking is caused by the wall sockets rather than the wood floors?

This is an extremely rare occurrence. It typically indicates that the wooden floor has stretched too far and is now up against the walls (under the baseboards).

The wood rubs against the wall or the plinths when walked on (especially near the wall). This makes a noise similar to wood floors creaks, but it is a little duller and more grating.

If this is the case, your only option is to trim the plank along the edge or lay the new planks immediately.

The first option needs to be more appealing and only works if you also have a wall base. However, it is more financially appealing than the second.