Fixing Squeaky Floor

by Carol Hinger

Fixing a squeaky floor;A wide variety of problems that show up in a house can't be easily classified—except under "Trouble." Here's a roundup of these pests and how to handle them. This is caused by one or more loose floorboards usually just one. When you step on the board, it bends more than it should and rubs against adjacent boards—the rubbing produces the squeak. Or one board is bowed (warped). The answer is to nail the board down tightly so it can't move. You can use a 21/2-inch finishing nail or, for an even tighter job, a special nail called a spiral-fluted flooring nail. This has a surface that is partially fluted, or grooved, and has greater holding power.

First press on the various boards to find out which one is squeaking. When you discover it, drive a nail in at the approximate point where you figure it's bending. If necessary, nail the loose board down. If it can't move, it can't squeak. Drive nails in at the angle shown. Drive nailheads below surface with a basic carpentry nailset and fill little depressions with wood putty to match the floor. Sand smooth you don't get it exactly, no sweat.)

For greater holding power, drive the nail in at a slight angle—about as much as the Leaning Tower of Pisa leans. Step on the board. Still squeaks? Okay, drive another nail in a little way (two inches from the other), also angling it. Test for squeaking again. Still squeak? if so, drive another nail, also angled, about two inches from the first nail you drove in. With the nails in, take a nailset (a tool that looks like an extra thick nail with a small, blunt end) and drive the heads of the nails a little bit below the surface. Then fill the depressions with wood putty the color of the wood, and sand smooth. This will hide the nailheads.

Of course, if you have a rug or other covering on the floor this won't be necessary. (Incidentally, when using the hammer, hold it down near the end and, every time you hit the nail, flip your wrist as if you were cracking a whip.

Your arm has very little to do with the force you can apply to the nail. I learned how to hold a hammer the hard way, about 15 years ago when I was doing construction work. The foreman, a laconic Southerner, observed me holding a basic carpentry hammer several inches from the end. He asked me for the hammer, drew a rule mark on it a couple of inches from the end and asked for my saw. As he was poised to cut off the end of the hammer I said, "Wait, why are you 1 doing that?" "Shoot, boy," he answered, "you don't need this last two inches. You held the hammer up here." Then everybody roared. Except me. I reddened. You may be able to silence the squeak without nails. Just squirt some powdered graphite between the boards. When the board rubs, the lubrication prevents it from making noise. Hope I helped you in fixing a squeaky floor

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