Posted on: 30.04.2023 Posted by: Редакция Comments: 0

It can be concerning when your home starts making strange noises because you can never see what’s going on inside the frame of your house. Creaking can have various causes, some more serious than others.

Hardwood floors creak more in winter because wood expands with heat and shrinks with cold. This expansion and contraction can cause the floor to detach from the subfloor beams – nails will come out, and glue will loosen. Solutions can range from simple to quite labor-intensive.

This article will explore the different reasons why a hardwood floor may creak, as well as some solutions to address the issue.

Do Wood Floors Creak More in Winter?

Wood floors are more prone to squeaking in winter due to the wood contracting in colder temperatures. Unfortunately, shrinking boards tend to loosen from the subfloor beams and start creaking. Applying dry lubricant can help alleviate the squeaking, but it’s worth checking if the problem goes deeper into the subfloor.

If large portions of your floor regularly detach from the subfloor in winter, it’s most likely the fault of whoever installed your floor. Regular expansion and contraction of boards are expected and shouldn’t occur every winter, so it’s more likely that your subfloor had an incorrect spacing. If that’s the case, the entire floor will need to be reinstalled to fix the problem once and for all.

Why Do Floors Creak More in Winter?

Wood floors creak more in winter due to moisture and temperature changes. However, wood floors can squeak for a variety of reasons, some concerning and others relatively harmless. Boards can rub against each other at specific spots, causing squeaking only in that area, or they can rub against the subfloor, resulting in more widespread creaking throughout the floor.


Moisture plays a significant role in why wood floors creak. Wood expands in the summer with increasing humidity and contracts in the winter. This can be the direct cause of boards detached from the beams, nails coming out, and glue loosening. Expansion and contraction can cause boards to separate from the beams, nails to loosen, and glue to come apart.

Typically, hardwood floors can tolerate a humidity range between 35% and 55%. If this range rises or falls, especially in combination with rapid temperature changes, a hardwood floor might seem to “complain” as it shrinks or expands. If the floor was installed improperly from the start, glue and nails may loosen, leading to creaking and squeaking.

Natural solid hardwood floors are more susceptible to weather-related issues, while engineered wood floors are specifically designed with temperature and humidity in mind and hence are less likely to have squeaking problems.

Adding a dry lubricant such as talcum powder or dry graphite powder can alleviate the symptoms and reduce floor squeaking. However, keep in mind that it may take some time and multiple applications to see results. If the problem extends to the subfloor, more intensive work may be required.

Innocuous Noises

All wood floors make noises throughout their lifespan, and that’s just a fact of life that you’ll have to get used to. Whether those noises are normal or not is an entirely different matter. Light and infrequent noises are expected from any wood floor, but if a specific spot squeaks when stepped on or entire areas become loud, that’s a deeper problem that needs to be diagnosed.

Wood is an organic product that interacts with its environment and inevitably develops a squeak, crackle, or creak. However, with proper installation and care, hardwood floors can last for many decades.

Subfloor Beam Detachment

This is the most common cause of wood floor squeaking. When wood detaches from the subfloor (usually plywood), it allows for movement, causing a creaking noise. Widespread subfloor detachment is not a dangerous problem, but it can be extremely annoying when your home “complains” as you walk through a room.

To check how detached your floor is, you’ll need to lift the wood surface of your floor and look underneath at the subfloor. Typically, beams hold the surface layer to the subfloor with nails, but moisture and other factors cause nails to pop out as the wood moves.

The solution for this will vary depending on the severity of your problem. A small area may only require the addition of shims, while a larger area may require adding more beams to secure the floor to the subfloor.

Individual Boards

Loose individual boards can be bothersome, even if you already know where they are. This can be caused by subfloor detachment, but “cupping” is more common. Cupping refers to when boards rub against each other. When you step on such boards, you hear a noise and may even see the boards rub against each other.

If a problem is localized, a simple application of WD-40 or talcum powder might be sufficient. If the problem is more extensive, it may be necessary to completely replace the loose board, add shims, or replace the subfloor beams. However, before going to such lengths, lubricant and shims might very well be the solution to your problem – give it a try and see how it works!

Adhesive Concrete Squeaking

In some southern US states, it’s popular to simply glue the surface floor to a concrete slab, which comes with its own unique set of problems. The most noticeable one is floor squeaking. This happens when the concrete is not properly leveled before floor installation, an insufficient amount of adhesive is used, or the adhesive is unevenly applied.

If this is the case with your floor, a DriTac repair kit from your local home improvement store can help. This is perfectly doable for a DIYer who only needs to remove the floor surface and apply the included adhesive. Assuming your problem is due to a lack of adhesive, this will help fix your issue.

Poor Craftsmanship & Improper Installation

Whether we like it or not, the truth is that sometimes the problems in our homes can be attributed to shoddy construction. When it comes to the installation of flooring, there are some very common issues that lead to squeaky floors.

Inadequate Nail and Glue Usage

Floors are attached to subfloors using nails and adhesive. If adhesive is applied to a floor beam and the subfloor material (usually plywood) is not laid down in time, the adhesive will already be cured, and the floor won’t be as secure as it should be. Workers might think that the adhesive is still wet, even though it has cured before the sheathing was applied, resulting in improper installation.

After that, carpenters use nail guns to secure the sheathing to the beams. Sometimes, the carpenter is in a hurry and simply shoots a row of nails into the sheathing without considering if they actually go into the floor beams. Ideally, the carpenter should take their time and make sure that each individual nail goes through the sheathing and into the top of the beam.

As a direct result of these workers not properly doing their job, half or more of the nails used may not even be attaching the subfloor to the beams, and the adhesive may not even be holding the sheathing in place. Subsequently, the floor starts creaking and squeaking in no time.

Beam Issues

Improper installation is just one of many problems beams can face. If the tops of the floor beams aren’t flat, level, or even, your sheathing or subfloor won’t be properly supported. When nailed down, it will be attached unevenly.

This isn’t an immediate problem but becomes one over time as the floor area tries to return to its original shape and pulls the nails out. When you step on that area without nails, it will try to bend, creating a squeaking or groaning noise.

Another problem occurs when beams are damaged or improperly blocked. Ideally, beams are regularly blocked to keep them in place. However, in areas such as attics, basements, and crawlspaces, beams should not be blocked. Or if the beam is damaged, it could cause the adhesive or nails to loosen.

Solutions for Squeaky Floors

Many cases of squeaky floors can be temporarily mitigated by sprinkling dry lubricant such as talcum powder in the affected area, but serious problems require a more drastic solution.

This drastic solution involves screwing the floors tightly. This is actually easier than you might think, as simply tightening the floor in the affected areas may be the solution you need. However, if you have problems with damaged or unblocked beams, unfortunately, this requires much more work.

Final Thoughts

Hardwood floors look elegant and timeless in a home, but they’re not without issues. Factors such as moisture, improper installation, and subfloor detachment can all cause your floors to creak. Fixing the problem can be as simple as adding dry lubricant or as complex as completely reinstalling the flooring.

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