What Causes Wood Floors to Creak and Squeak?
While wood floors have been around almost as long as we stopped living in caves, the fact is they are sometimes noisy. Hardwood floors quite commonly develop creaks and squeaks over time. For some people, it’s a sound that gives an old house “character,”—or perhaps informs them when their teenagers are sneaking in late at night. For others, it’s just an annoyance, especially when you’re trying to walk quietly.
It may come as a surprise to learn that even newer wood floors can creak. If you’ve recently installed new floors and start noticing some creaking and squeaking, you might have some concerns. After all, we expect these noises from older floors, but not new ones.
Here’s the good news: There’s nothing structurally wrong. It doesn’t necessarily mean your floors were installed poorly. Wood is a porous, flexible material that can change with the elements. All it means when a floor creaks is that something moved—usually something small, and almost always something that can be easily fixed.
So…what causes these creaks and squeaks? Let’s explore the most common causes.
In new homes, wood floors almost always creak and squeak. At times, they may pop or crack without even walking on them. Don’t panic—they’re simply getting acquainted with their new owner! The floors have been acclimated before installation and finishing, but it will still take several months—usually a full four seasons—before they become fully acclimated to their new environment. As the wood adjusts to your home’s interior temperature and humidity levels, it will find its moisture equilibrium, minimizing the movement of the planks and eliminating most squeaks.
Temperature and Humidity Changes
There’s no getting around it—Oklahoma is a humid place, especially in the hot summer months. It can also get cold and dry in the winter. Changes in both temperature and humidity can cause the wood to expand or contract, causing the planks to separate slightly from each other. When someone walks in these areas, the individual planks rub against each other and creak. When temperature and humidity are the culprits, you may notice certain times of year when the creaks go away or are not as noticeable.
Settling of the Home
Not only can your wood floors change over time—so can the earth beneath your home. It’s perfectly natural for a home to begin “settling” into the ground over time, and when this happens, it can cause subtle changes in the levels of the subfloor or foundation. If your wood floors don’t “settle” in exactly the same way—which they rarely do—there will likely be some separation between the floor and subfloor. When weight is applied to those areas (i.e., someone walks on them), the wood bends and creaks under the weight.
Fixing Creaks and Squeaks
The vast majority of creaky floors are harmless, and if they don’t bother you, you won’t do damage by leaving those floors as they are. However, if you find the creaks and squeaks annoying and want to do something about them, the repair is typically minor, usually involving gluing or nailing to immobilize the individual boards. We recommend having your floor evaluated by a professional to determine the right way to fix those creaks and squeaks. For a free estimate, give Renaissance Hardwood Floors a call at 918-298-4477.