Removing elusive squeaks from floors

Q. What can be done about increasingly squeaky floors. The hardwood floors appear to be in good condition although the building is not new. Mary Watson New York, N.Y.

A. Squeaky floors are primarily caused by floor boards which move up and down on nail shanks under foot-traffic deflection. Subfloor boards oftentimes shrink as they dry out after their original installation. Hence, the boards rub on the nail shranks or each other, thus causing those irksome squeaks.

The next time you build, avoid the squeaky-floor problem before the fact.

Simultaneously, glue and nail the subflooring to the joists and to itself. Use coated or ringed nails that are driven at an angle for maximum silent integrity.

After the fact, however, floor-board squeaks are more difficult to totally silence. Unfortunately, mere face-nailing the hardwood may serve only to relocate the squeaks.

If the floor system is accessible from below, simultaneously face-nail the flooring from above while, at the same time, squirt glue between the floor joists and subfloors as well as between the boards from below. Use coated or ringed finish-type nails.

"Set" and fill the nail heads. Use a subfloor adhesive cartridge, such as DAP or equal, with a caulking gun. Insert shingle wedges where the gaps are excessive between the joists and subfloor.

Even then, every last floor squeak may not disappear.

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