how to fix squeaky floorboards under carpet (in the) UK

Many of us have experienced the terrible annoyance of a squeaky floor. There is nothing more annoying than trying to sneak for a late-night snack or quietly to the toilet without waking people, only to step on that one squeaky floorboard!

The creaks, groans, and squeaks are incredibly irritating. Luckily, in this guide, we look at how to fix squeaky floorboards under the carpet in the UK.

Yes – you can fix a squeaky floor even underneath a nicely fitted carpet!

What Causes a Squeaky Floor?

First, it is important to understand the causes of squeaky floors. Luckily, there are several common issues, and we have listed the main ones below:

  • The wrong nails were used to secure the floorboards to the joist
  • Nails were fitted improperly or loose
  • Gaps between the underside of the subfloor and the top of the joists
  • Problems with the joists underneath the floorboards
  • Expanded or warped floorboards from temperature changes
  • The flooring/carpet has not acclimatized
Close up of bare female feet standing on a wooden floor

One of the main causes is the nails that secure the floorboards to the floor joists. Often, nails that are too small or not strong enough may have been used. This will not give the floorboards enough support and strength when fitted onto the floor joists. As a result, the boards can move and thus create squeaking.

Similarly, this could also be an issue if the nails are not properly fitted into the boards and floor joist. Building on this, if the nails are poorly installed or the subfloor is not flush with the joists, this could result in a gap. When walking on the floor, your weight will naturally compress the floorboards and cause them to close the gap and thus rub on the joists, creating noise.

Over time, you can also get a damaged joist. For example, if one joist has been drilled into excessively, it could weaken it. Also, if you have had any issues with moisture, dampness, or flooding, this could potentially weaken and damage the joists, which could cause squeaking. In these instances, professional help is advised as joists are more difficult to fix/replace.

Lastly, if your property is subject to large changes in humidity, this can affect the floorboards and create squeaking. When wood experiences a change in humidity, it will expand or shrink. This change in size can affect the connection to floor joists and make the floorboards lose under the carpet.

What Issues Can Squeaky Floorboards Cause?

Luckily, a squeaky floor should generally not point toward any serious issues. Also, creaking floorboards under the carpet should not cause any lasting damage or compromise the integrity of your flooring.

The main issue is that it’s irritating! No one wants to walk on their perfect carpet and hear constant squeaks and creaks. Therefore, fixing squeaky floors is not vastly important from a structural point of view – it’s more something you would want to fix for convenience and to reduce your annoyance with the noise.

How to Fix Squeaky Floors Under Carpet

So, how can you sort squeaky wood floors? The exact process may differ depending on what floors you have, but the below seven steps are a great guideline and starting point.

Step 1: If Possible, Find a Suitable Access Point for Your Flooring

In an ideal scenario, you will have access to the floorboards underneath. For example, you could have a crawl space or even access the floor from a basement. This is ideal as it is far easier to fix issues with your plywood subfloor and joists from below.

If you can do this, it means you will not have to go through your carpet. However, if you do not have underneath access, you will simply have to work from above and on top of the carpet.

Step 2: Identify the Creaking Floorboards

Next, you must precisely identify the creaking boards. It is important to find them to avoid working necessarily and potentially damaging your carpet where the flooring is fine.

Identifying the issue is simply a case of walking on your floor. We advise first clearing any items and furniture to have full access to the entire floor. This will allow you to identify the problem areas easily. Now, walk along your floor until you hear the noise. Once you have found an offending area, mark it with tape.

Step 3: Identify the Joists Under the Subfloor

Now, you must identify the joists. This is because you will be driving screws into the joists to re-secure the floorboards.

The simplest method to identify joists is to use a stud finder. Stud finders are primarily used for finding wall studs, but you can also use them to find other things like wires, pipes, and floor joists. The exact method of using a stud finder depends on the make and model.

Once you have identified a joist using a stud finder, mark it with tape so that you know the exact location of the area you need to work on. You should cross-reference this with the tape you have previously placed to mark the creaking areas.

Step 4: Initially Insert a Screw Into the Carpet

You must now insert a drywall screw into the carpet. Don’t worry! There should be no visible damage or holes once you have completed all the steps.

Take the screw, and turn it manually until you create a small hole in your carpet. Rotate the screw slightly so it penetrates through the carpet and slightly into the subfloor. Doing this can prevent any damage to the carpet that the drilling motion could cause.

Step 5: Drive the Screw Fully Into the Carpet Using a Drill

Close up of a hand driving the screw into the subfloor

Next, ensure that you have secured the subfloor as tightly as possible. You can do this simply by kneeling on it. Now, using your drill, drive the screw into the subfloor. Keep driving until the head of the screw reaches the top of the carpet. Do not drive it any deeper than this, as you still need to remove the screw head.

Step 6: Use a Pair of Pliers to Pop the Screw Head Off

Once the drywall screw has been driven properly into the joist and carpets, there is one last step. Ideally, you have your pair of pliers handy. You must now pop the screw head off so that the screw is not visible on the carpet and doesn’t cause any injuries if people accidentally stand on it.

Using a pair of pliers, grasp the screw head. Next, twist it side to side and front to back. This will weaken the screw, and eventually, the head will simply pop off. This should leave the length of the screw secured into the subfloor and joist without any of it poking through the carpet.

Step 7: Repeat This Process for All Creaky Areas

Once you have done this technique for one area, you can do the same thing wherever you have identified a floor creak. This may be a simple case of trial and error. You could find that you have to do it for multiple joists before the creak goes away. Alternatively, you may find that one simple screw does the job.

Tips for Carpet and Floorboard Maintenance

Now that you have a basic set of steps to combat squeaky floors, we can look at some simple tips that can help maintain and preserve your floors and carpets.

Before New Carpet Fitting, Ask Installers to Check the Entire Floor

We have mentioned this previously but reiterating it is an important tip. Whenever you have a new carpet fitted, always ask the fitters to check the floorboards and joists. In most instances, fitters will do this (usually at a slightly additional extra cost).

If you can get the flooring and subfloor checked before a carpet is fitted, you can greatly reduce the chance of having to rip the carpet up or spend time trying to fix issues with boards rubbing and creaks, for example. A little forethought and pre-preparation often go a long way with flooring and DIY in general.

Consider Professional Help if You Are Not Confident With Your DIY Skills

We accept that not everyone is confident with DIY. This is fine! If the above steps and process sound like too much or beyond your DIY skills, there is good news. You should easily be able to get professional help, either from a handyman, carpet fitters, or timber floor specialists. You may also require professional help if you have a more serious issue like a faulty joist.

Talcum Powder Can Help Reduce Squeaks

If you have access to the floorboards, talcum powder can help greatly. This powder acts as a lubricant and can help prevent floorboards from rubbing against each other. Simply sprinkle powder in-between the floorboards. Once you have done this, place something over the floorboards and walk over them. This helps work the powder into the wood for lubrication.

Squeaky Floors FAQs

Will Carpet Installers Fix Squeaky Floors?

In most instances, yes. If you have a new carpet fitted and have creaky floorboards, it is a great idea to ask the carpet installers to check the subfloor and joists before installation. This can help eliminate any future problems.

Can You Fix a Squeaky Floor Without Removing the Carpet?

Yes, using the methods above or using a floor repair kit, you can, in most instances, fix any squeaks and creaks without having to pull up your carpet. This can save much time and effort and help maintain the quality of your carpet too.

Is a Creaky Floor a Structural Problem?

In most cases, no! For example, structural issues with floorboards are caused by other things like termites or water damage. Although the floor squeaks to point towards issues with your wooden beams and floorboards, it is nothing serious – just an annoyance!

Are Noisy Floors Common?

Yes, particularly in older properties in the UK and climates where there are significant changes in humidity levels. Older properties may have floorboards and joists that are not as good a quality. Also, when the humidity changes, wooden floors can warp and expand, which can cause floorboards to come loose from the joists.

Squeaky Floorboards No More!

We hope you have found this guide on how to fix squeaky floorboards under the carpet in the UK useful. This is a surprisingly common issue and one that many people do not know how to fix. However, as you can see from the above steps, you can fix the issue yourself.

Also, as mentioned, if you intend to have a new carpet or flooring fitted, always ask the installers to check the floorboards and space beneath beforehand.

They can easily spot any potential issues and spend a little time securing your floor joist! No more squeaky floors underneath your carpet!

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