Dear Angie: Any suggestions on how to handle second-floor creaks under the carpet? — Susan K., Lawrence Township, N.J.
Annoying: How annoying is the creaking? If it's waking the baby, that's a problem. If it's alerting you to a teen trying to sneak out, you might prefer to live with it.
But if it bugs you and you don't have a super-handy person in your household, the cost to quiet that creak could range from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000.
The precise price will depend on the creak's cause and the solution's scope.
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In most cases, squeaky flooring occurs when nails connecting the plywood underlayment (known as the subfloor) to the support structures (known as joists) become loose. This can happen over time as wood dries out.
Experts told our researchers that creaks also can result if the subfloor was not attached properly to the joists in the first place. In such a situation, the plywood can lift up from the joists, creating a space between the joists and subfloor, which creates a squeak.
Creaking also can be caused by sections of the floor rubbing against one another or wood rubbing against a nail.
One solution is to remove the squeaking section of subfloor, reglue it to the joists, then tightly screw the subfloor to the joists before reinstalling the carpet or hardwood top layer.
The work actually can be easier with carpeted floors because there's no wood to remove. The carpet, though, must be lifted carefully and put back in place after the repair.
Another possibility to silence a squeaky floor, one that is less expensive and time-consuming than removing a floor section, is inserting 3- or 4-inch screws directly through the carpet or hardwood to secure the plywood to the joists. For hardwood surfaces, be sure to fill the holes with wood filler after the repair.
Your best bet might be to hire a professional to diagnose the problem and propose a solution. Experts to consider hiring include a flooring contractor, handyman or carpenter.
As always, before you hire, be sure to get recommendations from friends or family, or other trusted sources, and check references, insurance and licensing status. Get the details of the job in writing, and never pay more than a third of the cost upfront.