Squeaky floors are not only aggravating but also highlight areas of your flooring that may be suffering from structural damage. It is not only important to get these floors fixed but also to hire the right people to fix them for you.
I have contacted several flooring specialists to inquire about their advice on how to fix squeaky flooring as well as their quotes for fixing squeaky flooring, both localized and spanning the whole floor. These services’ pros and cons are evaluated and the causes and fixes of squeaky floors are also discussed below.
Local flooring specialists are great options for squeaky floor repairs. They are affordable and amiable. Contractors are an option but may only do replacements and often have long wait times. Handymen can repair floors and are cheapest, but the damage may exceed their abilities. Some repairs can be DIY jobs.
Top 4 Most Common Causes of Squeaky Floors
A handyman, general contractor, or flooring specialist can be more comfortable tackling certain situations and not others. For this reason, the best person to hire for squeaky floors can depend on your squeaky floor’s specific problem.
1. Subfloor Detached From Floor Above
When you walk on your floor, you may notice that the flooring is moving up and down with you. This is often a problem with the nails connecting your floor to the subfloor.
When you put pressure on your flooring, the nail is pushed into the subfloor. When you step off of this flooring, the nail moves out of the subflooring, causing the floor to rise slightly and also causing squeaking.
The detaching of nails from your subfloor can occur from years of wear and tear.
This detachment might also occur much sooner after installation. This would indicate that the floor and subfloor were attached poorly. This might be due to the nail used (screws are better) or the skill of whoever installed your flooring.
2. Humidity/Heat Causes the Wood to Swell
During hot and humid summers, wood often expands and swells. This means that flooring will take up more space in these situations than in average heat and humidity conditions. This expansion will cause many boards to rub against each other, creating a squeaking sound.
Unlike subfloor detachment, swelling from heat and humidity is more likely to occur throughout all of your flooring. Subfloor detachment is often more localized to a couple of boards, but squeaking from swelling will be heard throughout the home.
The ideal relative humidity for your home is between 35% and 55%. The ideal temperature is between 60 and 80 °F. As long as you stay within these parameters, your floorboards should be fine.
With poorly-sealed wood flooring, though, it is possible that you can stay within the above parameters and your flooring will still expand. In this situation, your floors will also be more vulnerable to swelling as a result of spilled water or washing.
3. Cold Weather Causes Contraction of Wood Floor
While heat and humidity can cause your flooring to expand, cold weather and drier conditions do the opposite and can cause your flooring to shrink.
This shrinkage will cause gaps between your floorboards. These gaps will make it more likely for your floorboards to move around, which will cause squeaking.
Just like flooring expansion, shrinkage will most likely affect all of your flooring as opposed to being localized.
Dry conditions of below 35% relative humidity and temperatures lower than 60 °F are the most likely to cause your flooring to shrink, but poor sealing can cause this as well.
4. Subfloor Not Securely Attached to Joists
Very similarly to the subfloor being detached from the floor above, the subfloor can also separate from the wooden joists below it.
In this scenario, the nails connecting the subfloor to the joists have loosened and can move in and out of the joists when pressure is applied or taken off of the flooring. This movement of the nails is what causes squeaking.
As with subfloor detachment from the floor, subfloors that aren’t securely attached to the joists may be the fault of poor installation or low-quality materials.
This kind of squeaking is more likely to be localized and may not affect your entire floor.
Best Person to Hire to Fix Squeaking Floors
Through my research, I have found that local flooring-specific companies are the best to hire for fixing squeaking floors.
You are practically guaranteed to get fast results as far as a quote. Most flooring companies will contact you quickly to schedule an inspection of your floors.
Since flooring-specific companies specialize in flooring, they are likely to spot the problem very quickly and offer various solutions that differ in pricing.
The best aspect of flooring-specific companies is that they may encourage quick and cheap fixes either by themselves or by you.
One man I talked to said that localized squeaks could be fixed by him for free if he is there for another routine maintenance job, such as sanding. He also encouraged me to do the fixes myself and walked me through the process.
Low-cost fixes are not a guarantee for flooring companies. The complexity, type, and location of the squeaking will affect the pricing.
Local and smaller businesses are always the best to support and are often the most amiable as well as affordable.
Unfortunately, it is possible that flooring companies only offer installation services and not repair services.
Depending on the size of the business, the pricing may not be as flexible or open to negotiation.
As far as finding a local flooring business to solve your squeaking problem, I would highly recommend Angi and Better Business Bureau. These websites will search for reputable businesses near you who are willing to quote your project as well as schedule an inspection of your floors.
Hire a Contractor
If you have a friend, family member, or neighbor that had a very good experience with a contractor that fixed their flooring, then choosing a contractor over a flooring company would be a wise choice.
A contractor is more likely to be open to negotiation than a company since they work fairly independently and can fluctuate pricing more easily. This is especially true if you are well-acquainted with the contractor, they may be willing to give you a discount.
Overall, contractors are likely to be highly skilled and often have cheaper prices overall. Unfortunately, however, it is not guaranteed that a contractor works in flooring. Even if they do work in flooring, they might not offer repairs.
Contractors also often have irregular schedules. Unlike flooring specialists who have a somewhat regular flow of projects, contractors have more freedom and can either be completely swamped with projects or have none at all. When you contact a contractor, they might not have the availability for you.
Hire a Handyman
While a contractor or a flooring company may not fix flooring, if you are able to find a handyman who specializes in fixing flooring, this could be a good choice.
Hiring a handyman may be even cheaper than hiring a flooring specialist or contractor.
Since handymen focus on fixing areas of the home, you can avoid conversations about replacing the flooring entirely. Contractors and flooring specialists may advise you to completely tear out your flooring and reinstall it.
This may be the only way to fix your flooring, but if it is not, the much cheaper option would be to alter the existing flooring in a much less invasive way to solve the problem. A handyman could be able to do this.
A handyman might not be able to fix your flooring with shims or screws, though. The problem may be far more complex and could require reinstalling the existing flooring or installing brand new flooring. The handyman you hire may not have the skillset for this.
Going the DIY Route
If you would like to avoid the hassle and extra expenses of hiring someone to fix your floor, it is possible that the squeaking problem can be fixed by you instead. It all depends on the problem, the extent, and your skill level.
Stopping squeaking in the situation of the subfloor being detached from the flooring mostly involves screws and nails.
One way to fix this problem is to insert a screw from below. This would go through the subfloor and into the flooring to help prevent the floorboard from rubbing against the loose nails.
If it is difficult for you to access the subfloor, you can also drill pilot holes and nail them into the flooring from above.
Swelling of your wood flooring is not exactly an easy fix, but it is possible to try to mitigate or reverse the swelling by using a dehumidifier (amazon link) to control the moisture in your home. It may also help to lower the temperature of your home.
For the shrinking of your wood flooring, you can control the humidity in your home to mitigate or reverse the shrinking with a humidifier (amazon link) or by raising the temperature of your home. You can also insert filler strips for the gaps in your flooring.
For the separation of your subfloor from its joists, it is possible to insert shims in the gaps between the subfloor and its joists.
I have also written an article on how much it will cost to repair a squeaking floor, which can help you set a ballpark budget before calling one of these professionals in for an assessment.