Flooring Fright Plight

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

If you have floorboards that go squeak in the night, use the following simple tricks to silence the sometimes scary situation

With Halloween fast approaching, it seems as though scary movies and TV shows are everywhere.

The movie “Hocus Pocus” is an October staple at our house. It’s the only “scary” movie I can watch anymore.

I used to love movies like “The Exorcist” and shows like “Dateline.” Horror stories and murder mysteries, especially real ones, fascinated me. Unfortunately, they also kept me up at night. I’d rush through washing my face at night so I wouldn’t have to close my eyes, I’d keep the windows closed, no matter how hot it was, and I’d scrutinize every sound I heard, often staying awake for hours on end.

Now, I’ve learned enough about myself to know that I can’t watch stuff like that. I’ve also learned that other things can often explain creepy noises in the night. The wood creaking? That wasn’t a robber tip-toeing through the house. That was my dad sneaking into the kitchen to make a late-night snack, walking over loosened floorboards. If you can hear your housemates walking through the house at night, you might have the same problem.

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The squeaks and creaks in the flooring or on the stairs are often the product of floor-boards or sub-floor sheets rubbing against one another. To counter the problem, you can decrease the movement or friction in the boards. Whether you are handy or not, here are some simple solutions to try.

• Add powder. Dust talcum or graphite powder over wooden floorboards at the source of the creak, and work it in with a paintbrush. Put a little extra in around nails. The powder will help to ease any friction, which should help to tame the noise. Wipe excess away with a damp cloth.

• Screw them down. Find the squeak and start there. Use breakaway screws, which will automatically break off screw heads when you drive screws down. Follow the instructions in a flooring repair kit, which should also come with a depth-control fixture.

• If you can access the flooring from below, you may be able to get at the root of the problem much easier than working from above. Fill in the gap between the joist and the floor by gently tapping a thin, carpenter’s glue-coated shim into place. Be careful not to drive it in too far, otherwise you may raise the floor.

As always, if you are unsure at any time, please consult a professional. Happy Halloween!

If you have a question or comment for Joanne, email thefixisinhawaii@gmail.com.