How To Fix Squeaky Hardwood Floors With Baby Powder
Does the constant squeaking of your hardwood floors get on your nerves? What can be done about those annoying, squeaky hardwood floors? Many online forums and housekeeping guides recommend using baby powder to alleviate the squeaks. But what does it do? How exactly do you do this? We’ll tell you!
Applying baby powder to your squeaky hardwood floors may help alleviate squeaking for a while. The powder helps lubricate the surfaces that rub together, causing squeaks. However, the powder will eventually dissipate, and you will need to reapply it.
Read on to learn more about why hardwood floors squeak. We’ll also explain why baby powder might work, and other tips and tricks you can implement to get the best results.
Fixing A Squeaky Floor With Baby Powder
A quick fix for fixing a squeaky hardwood floor is using baby powder. The fine powder works its way in between the surfaces that are rubbing together. It’ll act as a lubricant to eliminate squeaking.
This trick is a temporary fix. Over time, the baby powder will work its way down to the subfloor or even further. Once a majority of the baby powder is gone, the squeaking will return. Read the steps below to learn how to do this!
Step 1: Apply The Powder
Sprinkle the baby powder on top of the offending surface. You should apply a good amount to where the floor is covered as you will spread this out and push it down into the wood anyway. Don’t be shy with how much you apply.
Do little areas at a time, instead of dumping five bottles of powder over your entire floor. The powder can go a long way, so check to see how far it goes before applying more to another area of your floor.
Step 2: Spread The Baby Powder
Walk over the board and baby powder several times. Walking over it causes the boards to flex, moving the powder further into the crevices. Do this as many times as you need. You can even shuffle across the boards to really push it further down into the wood.
Step 3: Brush Or Blow The Surface
Use a brush or compressed air to force the baby powder down into the cracks, if necessary. For older floors, you may not need to do this. But if your floor is relatively new, then you might want to have these on hand just in case.
Step 4: Reapply
Reapply baby powder whenever squeaking returns. Alternatively, consider a permanent solution. You will need to reapply it at least every one to three months. However, this all depends on how well of a job the baby powder is doing.
If the powder isn’t working that great, then you should consider a permanent solution. Call a professional to find out what exactly you can do for your squeaky floors.
Why Do Hardwood Floors Squeak?
There are many reasons why hardwood floors might squeak. Squeaking happens when a surface in your hardwood floor rubs against another surface.
Floorboards rub against the nails that hold the plank in place, the sub-flooring underneath the floorboards, or other finishes like baseboards. Read more about the anatomy of a hardwood floor in our post here.
Expanding And Contracting
Hardwood floors react to changes to weather, such as temperature and humidity. With these changes, it expands and contracts. Wood also shrinks as it ages, as the moisture from the living tree dries out over time. While you may not notice it, these changes happen in your hardwood flooring all the time.
Floorboard Bending And Gaps
Your flooring may also bend. The foundation of your house may settle slightly, which may impact the flooring. Some floors may also deflect, or bend, when loaded, such as when you walk on the floor.
Avoid Squeaking When Installing Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors that are nailed into place are the most common culprit for squeaky hardwood floors. Nails and glue are typically the cheapest options for installing the floorboards.
Installing the floor properly can help eliminate the majority of squeaking. Other fasteners than nails can hold the boards securely without compromising aesthetics. Screws are often preferred but can be unsightly.
Modern fasteners such as barbed plastic screws can be a better alternative. Wood adhesives, when used properly, can also prevent future squeaking.
Tips For Installing Squeak Free Hardwood Floors
Here are a few tips for installing hardwood floors that don’t squeak:
- Make sure all surfaces are clean. Before installing the subfloor, make sure that the joists underneath the subfloor are clean and dry. The plywood sub-flooring should be screwed and glued onto the joists to minimize or eliminate rubbing. If the joist is dirty, the glue may not adhere properly.
- Make sure all surfaces are level. Try to eliminate any gaps. If the joists aren’t even, the gaps offer room for movement which causes squeaking. Check out our post about installing vinyl planking on uneven floors.
- Ensure all wood products are dry. When installing your materials, make sure everything is dry. If you left your subfloor out in the rain, it has likely expanded with moisture. If you install a damp subfloor, it’ll shrink as it dries. When it does shrink it will rub on whatever screws or nails are holding it into place. If the subfloor dries and contracts underneath the hardwood floorboards, you’ll have even more likelihood of squeaking.
Most new hardwood floors should not squeak. As they age, imperfections in construction cause squeaking.
Other Squeaky Hardwood Floor Fixes
If you have squeaky hardware floors in an older home, you may need to use a variety of tricks to eliminate all the squeaks.
For example, if there are gaps between the floorboards and subfloor due to settling, the baby powder trick may not work very well. If you have floorboards that have a lot of movement when you step on them, the baby powder will likely work for only a short amount of time.
Here are some other tricks to consider:
Fix Squeaking With Shims
If you have access to the underside of your floor, you may be able to insert wood shims between the subfloor and the joists. Shims are wedge-shaped pieces of wood that can help you fill the gaps.
The shims will push up on the underside of the floor and up into the hardwood floorboards.
Be careful not to use too much force when inserting the shims. You may push the floorboards up too much and worsened the squeaking. Securely fasten the shims in place with screws and glue to prevent any future squeaking.
Use Screws To Stop Squeaky Floorboards
If you only have access above your floor, consider fastening new screws into your floorboards. Screws have more surface area than nails and, therefore, more friction. Screws are better at holding the floorboards in place and not working loose over time.
Choose screws with a small head and just enough depth to reach the subfloor. Some tricks may suggest clipping the heads off of normal screws. However, this weakens the attaching power of the screw. If you want a small screw head, use screws that are designed with removable heads.
If you have access to your flooring from below, you can also screw up into the subfloor and the floorboards above.
Squeak Fix Kits
Squeak fix kits use screws and metal plates to compress the floorboards. They act like a clamp to eliminate gaps. Adding in metal plates to reinforce screws provides an extra tight fit.
Stop Squeaking In Hardwood Staircases
Use all of these tips and tricks similarly in a hardwood floor staircase. If there is a storage room underneath your stairs, you may have much easier access to adding screws or shims. However, this option isn’t for everyone.
Stop Squeaking Under Carpet
Sometimes carpet another flooring has several layers underneath for support. A plywood subfloor may go down over the joists, with wood decking on top of that. If you need to stop squeaking under carpets, top off the head of the screw. Several hardwood floor squeaking repair kits have special tools that help to cut off the top of the screw if needed.
No More Squeaky Hardwood Floors
Squeaky hardwood floors can be a nuisance. However, with some of these tips and tricks, you should be able to temporarily or permanently alleviate the squeaking in your hardwood floor. If you need a quick and easy fix using baby powder or other standard household powders can help calm your nerves as quickly as possible. Once you’ve used the baby powder trick once, consider planning for a more permanent solution in the future.
Make sure that you reapply as needed to keep your floors quiet. You may need to reapply the powder every one to three months, depending on how well it’s working for you. Feel free to contact a professional to find out what your additional options are. That way, you can keep your floors from squeaking permanently, and you will not need to have an endless supply of baby powder on hand!
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