Why Do Wooden Floors Creak?

why do wooden floors creak

Continuous creaks of wooden floors can affect the soundness of the body and mind. In the long run, they can cause serious illness. So, it is not wise to take the creaks of any wooden floors lightly. It’s really important to know why wooden floors creak and to find a proper solution to the problem.

Wooden floors may creak for changes in the weather, uneven subfloors, improper installation, and unsettling foundations. Wood absorbs moisture from the air. Excessive humidity in the air makes them expand and dry weather does the opposite. The result is buckling and finally continuous creaking.

Don’t worry. There are easy solutions to this big problem. If you go through this article you will know all the reasons and their cure for the creaking of the wooden floor. Being a floor technician for more than 17 years, I believe I can help you if your wooden floor creaks whenever someone walks over them.

3 Reasons For Wooden Floors To Creak: Practical Solutions

Let us now examine the reasons for the creaking of wooden floors. I can tell you one thing. Whenever your wooden floor is creaking, there must be a scientific reason behind it. Identifying the exact reason is the prerequisite for a solution to the problem.

1. Changes In Temperature And Humidity:

Changes in the weather condition are one of the main causes for creaks on a wooden floor. Most of the time, the squeaky wooden floor is a result of the expansion or shrinkage of the woods. 

Woods are an expression of nature in the form of trees. Trees are living objects. They react to almost all the natural factors that other living things react to. Like humidity, temperature, etc.

In the rainy season, when there is a lot of moisture in the air, woods absorb moisture from the air and get swollen. In winter, when the weather is dry, woods lose moisture and tend to shrink. 

Another factor of the weather is temperature. We all have read about things getting bigger with high temperatures and again getting shrunk with less temperature. 

When we install the planks on a wooden floor, we place them in a geometric pattern. But when weather interferes with moisture or temperature, the wooden planks get swollen or get shrunk. Thus, the wooden floor becomes uneven. Sometimes we find unexpected gaps between planks and sometimes there are bucklings here and there. 

Now if someone walks on an uneven wooden floor, the wooden planks make sounds with the frictions among planks or the subfloor.

  • Solution 1- Dry Up The Swollen Floor:

Use a dehumidifier in your room to get the moisture out of the wooden floor. Once the moisture gets out of it, the buckled-up planks will get even just like before.

  • Solution 2- Sand-out the Swollen Floor:

Another quick solution for a swollen wooden floor is to use sandpaper to make it even again. After marking the exact swollen areas of a wooden floor, you can rub the sandpapers rigorously over them.

When you are convinced that the floor is even now, dust out the floor and use furniture oil over the floor. Using furniture oil will prevent future swelling of the wooden floor. 

If you wish, you can change the whole flooring to get rid of the creaks of your wooden floor. You may choose a vinyl floor over a wooden floor to avoid hearing the irritating creaks.

2. Uneven Subfloor

Sometimes, we forget to make sure that the subfloor beneath the wooden floor is completely even. Sometimes, the subfloor can change form by different factors like moisture. 

When this happens, the wooden floor becomes imbalanced and uneven too. On the spots, where the subfloor is lowered down, the wooden planks just hang in the air. When someone puts his foot on that area, the wooden planks move down and an unusual noise is created.

On the other hand, where the uneven subfloor is raised, a buckling is formed in the wooden planks. You will hear a loud thud when you try to walk in that area.

  • Solution – Make The Subfloor Even:

If your subfloor is uneven it is a real misfortune. Because that means you have to reinstall the whole floor again. 

Subfloors are the base of your wooden floors. If they have faults, your floor will always remain faulty. The only solution is to remove your wooden floor and get the subfloor even.

The procedure of making our subfloor even will depend on their type. In most cases, sanding them up will work just fine. 

If your subfloor is made of concrete, do not forget to seal the whole floor. Because concrete subfloors release moisture from time to time and moisture is the main reason for a swollen wooden floor.

3. Faulty Installation:

If your wooden floor is not installed professionally or without proper knowledge, there is a big chance that it will creak eventually.

A common mistake that amateur floor installers make is, they do not leave any room between two wooden planks. Experts think we should leave about 10mm space between two wooden planks.

The reason for leaving the space is, no matter how careful you are, there could be an unavoidable swelling of the wooden planks. If you do not leave space for the swelling, the wooden floor is bound to be buckled. As a result, there will be a lot of creaking.

Another problem at the installation phase that could cause creaking is loosely-nailed planks. If you do not apply adequate pressure on the nails, the planks will not be set properly. The obvious consequence will be creaks of the wooden floor.

  • Solution – Install Properly:

Being cautious while the installation of the wooden floor is the best way to prevent future creakings that are caused by the wrong installation. 

Now that you have already installed a wooden floor so badly that there are unpleasant noises whenever someone walks on them, you need to reinstall the faulty floor.

Commonly Asked Questions About Creaking Wooden Floors:

Why Do Wooden Floors Creak In Rainy Season?

In the rainy season, the air becomes full of moisture and the humidity level goes up very high due to rains. 
Wooden floors are made from natural woods. Woods are prone to absorb moisture from the air. By doing so, they become swollen.
When the wooden planks swell,  they become uneven and several bucklings are formed here and there in the floor area. When someone steps on such bucklings, his or her weight makes the swollen planks get rubbed with the adjacent plank. This is how creaking occurs on wooden floors in the rainy season.

What Happens If Your Wooden Floor Creaks?

No immediate physical harms happen when you have creaking wooden floors in your house. But in the long run, it can cause mental disorders.
If your wooden floors continuously creak, you will not be able to concentrate on anything for a long time. The annoying noises will dance on your nerves all the time.
You will find it impossible to have a sound sleep if your floor creaks all the time. It has severe consequences on your health. Besides, you will not feel comfortable while walking on the floor if it makes noises now and then.

Do Concrete Subfloors Make Wooden Floors To Creak?

Eventually, concrete subfloors can make your wooden floors creak. But it can only happen if the concrete floor is not sealed properly.
Concrete floors are known to release moisture now and then and moisture is the main reason for the bucklings of wooden floors. These bucklings make the wooden floor creak. So, if you are installing a wooden floor over a concrete-made subfloor, take advice from a professional on how to seal it properly before installing the wooden floor.

How To Prevent Wooden Floors To Acquire Moisture?

Prevention is better than cure. If you can ensure that there is no excessive moisture in the air inside your house, your wooden floor will not get buckled and will not creak.
Using a dehumidifier is the best solution to prevent the wooden floor from gaining moisture. Smart dehumidifiers come with the feature to automatically detect the level of humidity in the air and absorb them as required.
You should always be careful to clean any type of spill immediately to prevent the wooden floor from absorbing the liquids.

How To Cure A Swollen Wooden Floor?

Getting the moisture out from an already swollen wooden floor is tricky. One solution can be to use an iron to get the floor dried up.
You can lay a soft cloth on the swollen wooden plank and slowly press a little hot iron against it. Do not rush and use excessive heat. Otherwise, your wooden floor will be further damaged.
Continuously dehydrating the room with a dehumidifier can also be a solution. But with this process, it takes days to make visible progress.

Why Do Wooden Floors Creak Under Carpet?

Wooden floors creak under carpet primarily due to the movement and friction between the floorboards and the underlying subfloor. Over time, wooden floors can expand, contract, or become uneven due to changes in humidity, temperature, or wear and tear. When a carpet is installed over the wooden floor, the flexible nature of the carpet allows it to move slightly with foot traffic.
As people walk on the carpet, the pressure and movement cause the carpet to rub against the floorboards, resulting in the creaking sound. This noise is amplified because the carpet absorbs less sound compared to other flooring materials like carpet padding or underlayment.

Why Do Wooden Floors Creak At Night?

Wooden floors may creak at night due to a combination of factors. Temperature and humidity fluctuations during the night can cause the floorboards to expand or contract, leading to movement and potential creaking sounds. Additionally, at night, the ambient noise in the surroundings is usually lower, making the creaking sounds more noticeable.
Reduced foot traffic during the night can also contribute to the creaking as the absence of regular weight distribution allows the floorboards to settle and shift slightly. These factors combined can make the creaking sounds more apparent during nighttime hours.

Bottom Line:

Wooden floors are posh-looking and good for health. But they can be irritating with a continuous creaking. You should not ignore the squeaking of your wooden floor at all. Because it will eventually come down heavily on your mental health.

You may also want to read: 

10 Elegant Marble Flooring Ideas: Change Your Home Outlook

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Jahidul Alam

Hello dear! This is Jahidul Alam. I am the admin of this Tidy Floor. I have been in the floor cleaning business for the last 20 years. My business is all about ensuring affordable flooring cleaning services for Americans.

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