Have you got a squeaking chipboard floor? You might have left it a while, but it’ll get you, the constant squeaking eventually makes you want to fix it. In this article we’ll go into what causes the creaky floor and how you can fix it.
Likely Causes of Creaky Floors
Settlement, central heating, poor installation, cost cutting.
In order to reduce costs and increase profits, developers of new houses usually choose to fit large sheets of tongue & groove chipboard instead of proper floor boards to upper storeys.
The chipboard flooring is typically nailed to the joists with 2″ ribbed nails. After a very short time (a matter of weeks is not uncommon) the joists settle and the central heating causes the chipboard flooring to warp.
The chipboard flooring sheets slide up and down the ribbed nails whenever you step anywhere near producing the ominous “creaking floorboard”.
Time Required to Fix Creaking Floorboards
Approximately 15-20 minutes per nail. You’ll be pleased to read that not all floor nails need to be replaced. I cured a very noisy 4m² bathroom floor by replacing only 5 out of a total of 16 nails.
What Tools You Will Need
- Safety glasses
- A small flat blade screwdriver
- A claw hammer
- A lightweight hammer
- 2 large flat blade screwdrivers (old as may get damaged)
- A large posi / cross head screw driver (according to the screws you choose)
- Qty of exterior grade 2″ (according to length of nail) posi or cross head screws
All of the items are available online or from decent DIY stores.
How To Cure a Noisy Floor
Remove the rogue nails and replace with quality exterior grade screws. No need to consider moving house (as no one would buy it with that creak anyway).
Don’t even think about getting a man (or woman) (thanks Stan) in to take the whole floor up and start again – the builders will most likely have taken the opportunity to install cheapo plasterboard partition walls over the patchwork of chipboard flooring sheets.
Another option is to add extra nails or screws to secure the chipboard flooring, but unless you know EXACTLY where the pipes and power cables run under the floor, I would advise against this method. By removing nails and replacing them with screws the opportunity for error is drastically reduced.
Safety glasses should be worn for the duration of this exercise.
Read through all of the steps below before starting work. You’ll be prising out nails with screwdrivers…
Here’s a step by step guide on how to fix the floorboards:
Step 1 – take up or peel back the carpet and underlay to expose the creaky chipboard flooring. With the carpet up, walk around the bare floor and locate the nail(s) likely to be causing the creak. On closer inspection you may find the head of the nail to be very slightly raised from the floor board.
Step 2 – use the small flat blade screwdriver to gently scrape away at the area of creaky chipboard floor board immediately around and under the head of the nail. The idea is to scrape away a millimetre or two to allow easy insertion of the screw driver in Step 3. Take care not to cause unnecessary damage to the chipboard flooring sheet.
Step 3 – now there is a slight gap under the head of the nail, use the lightweight hammer to gently tap the blade of one of the large flat blade screw drivers into the gap. Gently lever the screwdriver up and down a few times. Remove the screwdriver and repeat the procedure, gradually working around the nail, gently levering at all times.
Step 4 – it should soon be possible to tap both large flat blade screwdrivers under the nail at the same time and gently lever them both up and down. Carry on doing this until the head of the nail has risen several mm from the floorboard. Take care to avoid to screwdrivers slipping towards you.
Step 5 – slide the claw hammer under the head of the nail and lever it out of the creaky floor. Don’t rush and try to lever the nail before there is sufficient gap to slide the nail about half way up the claw. This could result in damage to the head of the nail and, without a nicely formed head you will have nothing to pull on and the nail will end up stuck in the creaky chipboard floor. If this does happen, hammer the nail soundly back in and live with the creak. Alternatively, sell up and move to a bungalow. With concrete floors.
Step 6 – cut the end off the tip of an exterior grade screw so that it is about 5mm shorter than the nail. This will remove the risk of an overly long screw cutting into pipes or wiring that may be running through the joist. The method I’ve used here is to grasp the shaft of the screw firmly with pliers and use a Junior Hacksaw to remove the tip of the screw.
Step 7 – now fit the shortened screw into the hole left by the nail. The prising and levering in previous steps will have left a nice countersunk area for the head of the screw to fit flush into. I’ve found that exterior grade screws are ideal for fixing creaky bathroom floorboards as they won’t rust. As there were 100 in the box, I’m also using them to secure noisy floor boards in all other areas.
And finally – repeat the above steps until the chipboard floor is creak free. Refit the underlay and carpet. Roam up and down the newly noiseless area grinning like a fool, feeling pretty pleased with yourself, but wondering why you didn’t do this years ago.