Friday, 19 June 2009

Fixings Squeaking Stairs in Older Homes

Oh yes the common problem of squeaking stairs in an older house. This could become very frustrating and annoying as you walk up and down the stairs. There seems to be one or two stair treads that are always squeaking. That annoying sound as you walk as softly as you can on your way down to the kitchen in the middle of the night to grab a quick snack.

The number one cause of squeaking stairs is when the nails used to fasten the stair tread to the stair strainers has worked its way loose. Over time as the lumber shrinks in the stair treads and the stairs stringers. You will start to develop a separation or a gap between the stair tread and the stair strainer.

The stair stringer can shrink as much as 3/8 of an inch in just a few years. I was building a home and went to measure the stair stringer that was 11 1/2 inches wide originally. Then I measured it after two months outside in the summer sun it now measured 11 1/16". I was amazed that the lumber could shrink that much in such a short period of time.

As the stair stringer shrinks it starts to pull away from the plywood or hardwood stair tread. As it starts to separate from the stair tread the nail will stay in its original position until the stair tread starts to put pressure on the nail eventually lifting it up a little bit higher than its original position.

As you step on the stair tread the squeaking sound you hear is the nail rubbing against the stair tread. There are a few ways to fix a squeaking stair tread. If you have access to under the stairway you can apply some adhesive along with a 10 inch 2 x 4 under the stair tread and attach it to the stair stringer.

First apply adhesive to two sides of the 2 x 4. The adhesive will be used to glue the stair tread to the stair stringer. You can use screws to screw the new 2 x 4 onto the side of the stair stringer.

If you cannot access the underside of the stairs and you have carpeting you can actually locate the stair stringer and drive a 2 inch screw through the carpeting in to the stair stringer. This will pull the stair tread down and will not allow it to rub up against the nail making that awful sound of a squeaking stair case.

If you have a finished wood stair tread you will not be able to screw through it into the stair stringer without damaging the finish on tread itself. It will be easier to access the stair stringer from below somehow and apply the 2 x 4 with the adhesive to stop the stair squeak.

You can apply these methods to as many stair treads that are squeaking without taking apart the entire staircase and rebuilding it.