Squeaks are a common issue with hardwood flooring and have a number of causes. Squeaks can occur between the hardwood flooring and the subfloor or even between the subfloor and the floor joists. Solid wood floor joists can shrink ¼”. If the subfloor isn’t glued properly to the floor joist, it can create a gap between the subfloor and the floor joist and cause a squeak.
Why a subfloor matters for hardwood flooring
A subfloor, especially OSB can shrink when exposed to a dry environment, which is quite common above main heat ducts. This causes the subfloor to loosen its grip on the fastener. This is especially the case if the subfloor has been exposed to moisture prior to installation, because the subfloor would have expanded and then shrunk excessively.
Another cause of squeaks is an uneven or unlevel subfloor. If there is a dip in the subfloor, the wood flooring may not bend and contour to the subfloor and the fasteners may not hold properly. The void between the hardwood flooring and the subfloor at this section may create deflection and cause a squeak.
What cupping and settling does for squeaks in hardwood flooring
Squeaks can also occur in a hardwood floor that has cupped and then settled back down. When the floor cups, the boards edges are raised, which loosens the fasteners making them less effective and creating movement between the hardwood flooring and the subfloor.
Lack of fasteners in hardwood flooring
The most obvious cause of squeaks is a lack of fasteners. If an installer runs out of fasteners in a section of the floor or if there is an inadequate number of fasteners, there will be squeaks. When the wood flooring naturally shrinks and expands, it requires an adequate amount of fasteners to hold it in place of it will become loose and squeak. None of this is to be confused with the “Snap, Crackle, Pop” effect that occurs in every brand new hardwood floor.
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