How to Fix Creaking Stairs
Curing Creaking Stairs
A creaking staircase is an extremely irritating problem, caused by loose boards flexing and rubbing together. The most satisfactory repairs can be achieved by working from underneath the stairs, but if the underside of your staircase is plastered, it is simpler to work from above.
While you are working on the stairs, check the landings for loose floorboards.
- Brace or
- Countersink bit
- Nail punch (nail set)
- Plug cutter
- Tenon saw
- Wood bits
Working From Underneath the Stairs
If it is possible to get to the underside of the staircase, have someone walk slowly up the stairs, counting them out loud. From your position under the stairs, note any loose steps and mark them with chalk. Have your assistant step on and off the ones you’ve marked while you inspect them to discover the source of the creaking.
Fixing a loose housing joint
If the end of a tread or riser (the vertical part of the step) is loose in its housing, the glued wedges that hold it in place may have worked loose.
- Prise out the loose wedges with a chisel. Clean the wedges with sandpaper or, if they are damaged, make new ones from .
- Apply woodworking to the joints and tap the wedges home with a hammer.
Replacing loose blocks
Check the triangular blocks that fit in the angle between the tread and riser. If thehas failed on any of the faces, remove the blocks and clean off the old .
- Before replacing the blocks, prise the shoulder of the tread-to-riser joint slightly open with a chisel, apply new adhesive to it, then pull the joint up tight, using 38mm (1-1/2in) countersunk .
- Rub the glued blocks into the angle. If suction alone proves to be insufficient, use to hold the blocks in place while the adhesive sets (try to avoid treading on the repaired steps in the meantime). If some of the blocks are missing, cut new ones from a length of 50 x 50mm (2 x 2in) .
Working From Above the Stairs
To identify where the problems occur, remove the stair carpet and walk slowly up the stairs. When you reach a creaking tread, shift your weight to and fro to discover which part is moving and mark it with chalk.
Screwing the nosing
A likely weakness will be the joint between the nosing (front edge of the tread) and the riser. This is normally a tongue-and-groove joint, or possibly a butt joint with a wooden moulding set into the angle between the two. The easiest solution is to drill clearance holes for 38mm (1-1/2in) countersunk screws directly over the centre line of the riser. Inject woodworking adhesive into the holes and work the joint a little to encourage theto spread into it, then pull the joint up tight with the screws. If the screws cannot be concealed by stair carpet, counterbore the holes to set the beads below the surface of the tread, then plug the holes with matching wood.
Gluing a loose riser joint
A loose joint at the back of the tread cannot be repaired easily from above. You can try working water-thinned PVA woodworking adhesive into the joint, but you cannot use woodscrews to pull the joint together.
As an alternative, reinforce the joint bya section of 12 x 12mm (1/2in x 1/2in) triangular moulding into the angle between the tread and the riser—but for safety’s sake don’t make the depth of the tread less than 220mm (8-3/4in). Unless the stair carpet covers the full width of the treads, cut the moulding slightly shorter than the width of the carpet.
Another option is toa similar moulding to each step and apply a wood dye to unify the colour.
Curing squeaking floorboards
Over a period of time the flexing of the floor or expansion and contraction of the wood can loosen floorboard. The resulting movement of the wood against the nails or adjacent boards produces the annoying squeaks.
Use a nail punch (nail set) and hammer to drive the floorboard nails deeper; this allows the tapered edges of the nails to grip the wood firmly. If nails are missing, secure loose boards with ring-shank nails.
If nailing is not sufficient to hold a warped board in place, use countersunk woodscrews; dampening the wood thoroughly before fixing may help a board to ‘give’ as youit down. Bury the heads and cover them with plugs of wood if the floorboards are exposed.