Does your home feel like a haunted house because of stairs that squeak and creak? If you’ve been thinking about repairing your stairs for years but aren’t sure exactly how to go about it, you’ll be surprised to find out that friction is the most common cause of the problem and it can be fixed fairly easily.
Your staircase is a complex system made up of numerous components, including risers, treads, railing, and balusters among others. Any one of these pieces may be the cause of the annoying creaking sound your stairs make.
However, you need not be overwhelmed. Most of the time, the creaks are a result of friction that occurs when the metal rubs against wood. More specifically, the squeaking sound is made when metal nails push in and out of the nail holes. Due to the high traffic on stairs, it’s only natural that the nails will become less secure over time.
At this point, you might be thinking that all you need to do is hammer down the nails in their place. But stairs contractors know that this will only solve the problem temporarily—for a few hours at best—because the hole in the wood has already expanded and is too large for the nail. Of course, you can drive in a second nail but this would also be a temporary fix because the hole will eventually expand further. Moreover, you risk splitting the stair nosing with the additional nails.
Carpet, rubber or sisal stair runners can block or reduce the squeaking or creaking sound made by old stairs. Solid stair covers are even more effective than runners because in addition to sound-proofing the stairs, they also redistribute one’s weight across the width of the treads.
Wedges and screws are the most effective solution, with the only better solution short of getting new stairs. In this case, screws are used to securely hold together stringers and loose treads. Small wedges can be forced between stringers and treads from underneath to reinforce the connection.
Fixing the stairs from above
- Locate the spots that squeak the most by having someone else slowly walk up and down the stairs. Tag those areas that squeak the most.
- Remove runners if they are present.
- Where possible, pull out any nails that are visibly loose.
- If you are unable to remove a visibly loose nail, drill a hole next to it.
- Send screws into the pre-drilled holes or the holes left by the removed nails to secure the treads.
Fixing the stairs from below
In a case where you can access the underside of the stairs, you can use the same fix for squeaky floors. Find out if any wedges were setup between the tread and riser. Chances are that these wedges have become loose or have even fallen off, in which case you need only reattach them and secure them with wood glue.
Just be careful not to use too much force when placing in the wedges lest you completely separate the tread and riser. Of course, for the best results, you’re better off hiring professional stairs contractors.