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 Post subject: How Much is Too Much Squeak on New Hardwoods
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 7:42 am 
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My freshly installed (still unfinished) harwood floor is squeaking moderately, and I am wondering how much is too much, or if there should be no squeaks at all.

A carpenter friend and I just installed the floor, 500 s.f. of 3/4" American Cherry hardwood, 3.25" wide, in my new addition. We followed all the advice we could find - prepped the subfloor well (3/4" T&G), covered it with 15lb tar paper, face nailed the first row about 1/2" from the wall edge, blind-nailed the rest with a manual 45-degree floor nailer from a local flooring store, using the specified nails ... the boards appear to fit together snugly though there are perhaps 2 spots on the whole floor where we have very slender gaps between a couple boards (playing card width) -- these run for about 18" each. The squeaks don't seem related to those gaps or anything in particular. They aren't horrible - no big pops. But I'm kinda surprised it squeaks at all. It felt solid as we went along, and I thought squeaking wouldn't set in for a few years.

Are my expectations unrealistic here?

If I want to minimize the squeaks, can I do it by strategically face nailing (or screwing and plugging) a few boards, or will I have to go after all of them? All is not an option for me -- I'd take the squeaks over placing that many visible fasteners in the new floor. But if I can help the problem by securing a few key boards, I'd like to try that before I sand and finish the floor. (Unfortunately b/c the foundation crawlspace is tight and hard to reach, securing from underneath with screws is only an option for about 1/2 the floor, and it's a very unpleasant task.)

I'm sure it's obvious but this is the first hardwood floor I've installed.


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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 10:14 am 
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Location: Antioch, CA. 94509
Just let the floor settle a little. Are you absolutely sure it's your new cherry flooring and not something under the subfloor? I have noticed over the years that after banging down some flooring, that occasionally, it would loosen up something underneath the subfloor, causing noises. Check for that. Also, it's possible that you may have broken a few tongues during the installation, which could also contribute to squeaking. Another possible cause is milling that is sloppy. If the T&G aren't real snug, the floor rides up and down, and wood rubbing against wood squeaks. I wouldn't go nuts face nailing and screwing from the surface. A couple here or there maybe, but not all over, unless the entire floor is squeaking. And if that were happening, then I'd say you have serious problems.


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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 12:48 pm 
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How close/far apart are you fastening, and have you noticed any splitting of the tongues?

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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 2:10 pm 
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Floorguy (I live right near Zilker Elementary by the way), we spaced the 2" nails 18" apart. I did not notice any split tongues. And in answer to Gary, I don't think it's the subfloor jarring loose. There was one section of the 28'x18' room where it was loose when we started, but we screwed that down well, and the rest was solidly glued and screwed before we got going. The problem could be not being snug enough, although it looks snug to me and my wife.

If I can isolate areas where it's squeaking, could I selectively face screw and plug those? And are screws and plugs a better fix (thinking on about 10-20 floorboards total for the whole floor, at least I hope) than face nails?


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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 8:10 pm 
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I grew up and my dad still lives, down the road, across the street from the Broken Spoke. I went to Barton Hills, O'Henry, and graduated from Austin High. Had lots of friends that lived near Zilker. Kinney Ave and Bluebonnet all the way to Rabb/Robert E. Lee area.


I can see why you have squeaks, Expect to live with them, if you placed your fasteners 18" apart.

8 - 12" is spec.

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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 11:15 pm 
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Quote:
we spaced the 2" nails 18" apart


YIKES! How did you come up with that idea?


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 6:13 am 
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I got that wrong, it was 12" apart! Sorry. I was letting Aaron (the carpenter) do all the work and I was just his gofer. He said it was 12" - sounds like that itself may account for some of the squeaks, if 8-10" is the norm.

Do you think it's a bad idea to try a few plugs? Again, I'm looking at about 12 spots where I can hear a squeak, sorta local to one board or joint area, as I walk around the main room, which is 500 s.f. I can live with the squeaks since they are not severe, but if a few plugs will stop them, that'd be great. I just don't want to do anything stupider than I already have so far.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:10 pm 
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Can the squeak be screwed from the underside of the floor. Unfinished basement, crawlspace? A little more work but no face nailing.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 9:11 am 
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Only a few areas can be easily screwed from the underside - about half of my crawspace is really hard to access, and it's a bit claustrophobic to get to the rest. In fact, it's so claustrophobic I'd rather look at a few face nails than go down there, unless it's a really bad technique.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 9:33 pm 
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You did make sure the crawl space is a minimum of 18" to the bottom of the joists, and you did cover the soil in that crawl space with a moisture barrier, before you started the wood installation, didn't you?

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:10 am 
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I did - the floor's a good 30"+ above grade, resting on 2x12 floor joists that at a minimum are 18" above grade. The problem is there's a concrete support barrier midway in the crawlspace (stupid mistake by my foundation contractor), and it makes access to the back half of the crawlspace very difficult. So I can get down there and install bottom screws for half the floor, and I suppose I ought to try this, my claustrophobia not withstanding. But I'll need to try some strategic plugs for the back half.

I appreciate the detailed questions - you guys pay attention. Wish I had contacted you first, Austin Floor.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 10:26 am 
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Just want to report I was able to fix this problem with suggestions here. I screwed from underneath where that was convenient on most of the floor, put a few strategic plugs in on the face where it was hard to get under with my power drill (and the plugs look great), and that helped a lot. What finished it off was using filler. I still have 1 isolated squeak where we put a short board and I could not locate the stud, but I can live with that.

Thanks.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:52 pm 
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Location: Florida
Good for you.
We are happy for you.
Ray

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