Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
You’ve just installed a new wood floor, then suddenly you start hearing creaking. Wooden floors can be a great addition to your home, but if they’re creaking and squeaking, you might find you hate them. Should a new wood floor creak?
A new wooden floor will creak initially but should stop after a few months. If any creaking or squeaking continues for extended periods or gets worse, there’s likely an issue. Uneven subfloors, excessive moisture, and poor installation are examples of things that can cause a creaky floor.
Let’s take a closer look at why a new wood floor would creak.
Can New Wood Floors Creak?
New wood floors are prone to creaking and squeaking like any other flooring type. The sound you hear is caused by the individual boards shifting and rubbing against each other. For new floors, this is normal as they adjust and shift into the new environment.
Before installation, the wood used for the flooring is acclimated. However, once they are transported and installed in your home, the wood will need to get reacclimated to this new environment.
It’s normal to hear several pops and shifts as your floors get used to the humidity and daily use. This should fade over time, and you may notice any creaks less and less as the weeks and months pass. However, it’s recommended that you allow your floors four full seasons to get acclimated to your home.
What’s Causing Your Creaky Floors?
There’s a chance that the creaking and squeaking of your new wooden floors isn’t caused by the floors adjusting. You might notice the creaking getting worse instead of better with time. Or perhaps the creaks are louder now than they were initially.
As mentioned above, creaks and squeaks are caused by two or more boards rubbing against each other. If the creak becomes too excessive or continues beyond four full seasons of use, there could be something else involved.
Several things could cause the creak, such as uneven subfloors, poor installation, or even just the humidity. Take a closer look at some of the things that can cause your new wooden floors to creak.
Uneven Subfloors Cause Floor Creaks
One of the leading causes for a creaky wooden floor, even a new one, is the subfloor. If the subfloor is uneven, it will cause the wooden boards to rub together and creak.
The first thing you need to know is if you have access to the subfloor from below, such as through the exposed ceiling in your basement. If you don’t have a basement, or there’s a finished ceiling preventing you from reaching the subfloor, you may need to remove the finished floorboards so you can fix the problem.
The first thing you want to do is locate the spots that are creaking. You’ll need the help of a friend or family member to find the noise. Go downstairs to the basement while your friend is upstairs. Ask them to walk across the floor. Each time you hear a creak or squeak, mark the area on the subfloor. This won’t be possible if you have a finished ceiling.
After you’ve found all of the problem areas, use a stepladder and place your hand against the subfloor. Ask that friend of yours to walk across the area. If the subfloor is causing the problem, you’ll feel the difference on your hand.
Excessive Moisture Will Make New Floors Squeak
If you have children, you know that something will be spilled on your new wooden floors sooner or later. Moisture of any kind is dangerous for wood if it’s left unchecked for too long. Water causes the wood to warp and buckle as the material absorbs the liquid. When wood boards warp like this, it causes them to rub against each other and make noise.
The best way to tell if the creaking is caused by moisture is to find the source of the noise. Search around the area for water damage. If the squeaky flooring is located near a tub, sink, or other sources of running water or water pipe, this could be a sign of a leak, which could be a much larger issue. If you suspect a leak, it’s vital to get it taken care of as soon as possible.
Poor Installation Can Result in Creaky Wood Floors
When new floors start creaking, sometimes it is because of poor installation. This can be from several different things. It’s possible the wrong nails were used during the installation process. It’s even more likely that your installer didn’t leave room for the floorboards to adjust and swell.
The best way to figure out if the creaking is because of poor installation is to contact the company you used to put in the floors. Have them come back to your home and inspect the work they did. If you installed them yourself, it still might be a good idea to call in a professional. They will be able to find the cause of the problem, fix it themselves, or give you the necessary suggestions.
Problems With the Joists Can Cause a Creaky Floor
If your subfloor has separated from the joists, your floors will be forced to shift when you walk on them. The joists help secure the subfloor, so if they aren’t properly attached, you’ll get a squeak.
To identify if your joists are the problem, you’ll need access to them via a basement or exposed ceiling. Take a look at all of the joists in the area of the creak. You’ll notice right away if the subfloor isn’t adequately secured to the joist.
Creaks Can Come From the Weather
The weather has a significant role to play in the sounds that your floor makes. As the humidity rises and falls outside, the moisture in your home will also shift. These shifts will cause your floor to make all kinds of sounds as it adjusts to the changes. This is especially true in areas where the humidity is very high for most (if not all) of the year.
The best way to know if the weather causes the creaking is to go through every other possibility first. Unfortunately, the only thing you can do is monitor the humidity outside and inside your home using a hygrometer. Once you know where your humidity levels are, the next thing to do is buy a dehumidifier or a humidifier. This will allow you to control the humidity in your home and prevent creaky floors.
3 Ways To Fix a Creaky Wood Floor
Fixing a creaky wood floor isn’t the easiest process. It can be time-consuming and tedious, especially if you’re not sure what the actual cause is. However, once you’ve identified the issue, you can use one of the solutions below to remove the creak from your wood floors.
Fix the Subfloor
Fixing the subfloor is usually the first and fastest way to fix creaky wood floors. However, if you don’t have access to the subfloor by an exposed ceiling, you may want to call in a professional.
The first thing you can try when fixing your subfloor is to install some shims between the joists and the subfloor. When you do this, you’ll need to make sure you apply a layer of wood glue before inserting the shim. The shims will help stabilize the subfloor, while the wood glue will ensure they don’t fall out or move.
You can also try a foam adhesive between the joists and the subfloor to stabilize the subfloor. This will work similarly to the shims. It adds another way to prevent the subfloor from moving.
Finally, another option when fixing your subfloor is to nail the joist to the subfloor. This will require wood screws, but not any that are long enough to penetrate the subfloor. When screwing the subfloor to the joist, you’ll need to come in through the joist at an angle. This secures the subfloor to the joist.
Make sure your screws don’t breach the subfloor. If the screw penetrates the subfloor, you risk pushing the finished flooring away from it. If that happens, you will continue to have a creak as the boards shift to make room for the screw.
Sprinkle in Saw Dust
Sprinkling sawdust into the crevices of your floorboards is a temporary fix. The sawdust eases any tension between the boards and quiets the sounds the boards make when they shift. If your floors are creaking because of settling, this could be the solution best suited for you.
However, if you notice that after four full seasons have passed and you still hear a creak, there could be another reason your floors are squeaking. You may need to reapply the sawdust or determine if there is another cause to the creak.
Reinstall the Floors
If the floors were poorly installed, you might find that the only option you have is to reinstall the floors the correct way. When you start removing the finished flooring, you may find the problem quickly. It’s possible you won’t have to redo the entire floor, but only the affected section. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to contact a professional to have them evaluate your home.
Having a squeaky and creaky new wooden floor can be aggravating. It’s easy to question the installation or whether wood floors are even worth having. However, it’s pretty standard for new wooden floors to creak, especially in high humidity.
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- Democrat and Chronicle: Ludwig: New home’s hardwood floors squeak
- Fine HomeBuilding: New hardwood floors creak?
- Martin’s Flooring: Wood Flooring and Cold Weather
- The Master’s Crafts: 5 Things Your Floor Says When It Squeaks
- Ozburn Hessey Company: Is Your Hardwood Just Creaking or Damaged?
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