How To Fix Creaking Stairs

You get up for a midnight snack. The lights stay off so you don't disturb anyone. As you creep down the stairs, one board ends up letting a loud creak loose and it seems to echo all around the stairwell. Instead of wondering if that creaking stair woke anyone up, knowing how to fix creaking stairs quickly and effectively can make sure that everyone stays asleep in the future. The reason why stairs creak is because there is space between the floorboard of the stair and the stringer or joist that has been used to create the foundation of the stairs. If you tighten up the connection to eliminate that open space, you'll eliminate the creak.

Is It the Joist? Or Is It the Stringer?

For most stairwells that are installed, a stringer is used because it makes the construction of the stairs relatively simple. The stringer has the spacing for the stairs already measured out for you, meaning that all you must do is affix a kickplate and the footboard for the stairs and you're essentially ready to walk up and down the stairs. If the creak happens at the very top of the stairs, then it could be a joist that is used to support the stairs. If it happens in the middle of the stairs, it is probably the stringer. The fastest way to fix a creak is to just tighten the stair itself. Using creak-free screws, just affix the board tighter to the stringer or joist and the problem will be solved. You'll need four screws for the step to make sure that it has been tightened evenly. The creak-free screw will have its head break off when it is tight, so going through your carpet or hardwood isn't an issue. Just patch the hardwood hole afterward and you're done.

What If the Creaking is on the Front of the Step?

Although it is rare, if there is creaking in the middle of the stairs and it only happens when you put weight on the front of the step, then there is likely open space between the kickplate and the step. This is a little more difficult to fix on carpeted floors because the footboard will need to be tightened up against the kickplate. You may need to remove part of the carpet to access the area and then affix it into place once again after tightening the joint. Wood isn't the only material that will creak when you step on it. Even toughened glass stairs will have creaking when there is space between the floor and the supports. Mediums that aren't wood can be a little tricky. The fastest fix is to put in more sealant or caulking that can fill in the crack. If there is access underneath the stairs, then look for openings where you could put a shim. Otherwise you may need to take out a small diamond drill to access the stringer underneath or remove the toughened glass or other materials to tighten the installation up and then replace it once completed. Most jobs to fix creaking stairs are pretty simple. It takes just a few screws to tighten up the floorboard to the stringer or joist and you're done. That way you can get up to enjoy that midnight snack without worry, whenever hunger strikes.

Posted on Dec 16, 2014


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