Wood Stairs: What causes my wood stairs to creak and how can they be fixed?

Wood is a material that expands and contracts regularly. With heat and other moisture in the air wood will expand and when the temperatures are cold wood will contract. The expansion and contraction of the wood is less about the actual temperature and more about the moisture in the air. Warm temperatures bring moisture and cold temperatures are associated with drier air. Throughout changes in weather, temperatures and seasons, you may notice that your wood stairs sound different. Even though the stairs are more likely to creak in dry weather when they have contracted, they will also creak during damp weather.

These creaking noises can be very annoying for homeowners. Whether you’re trying to creep up the stairs without waking the baby or trying avoid the creeks when leaving for work in the morning, you’ll likely not be able to avoid a creaky step. Just when you think you’ve figured out where not to step you’ll discover a new creaky spot.

In addition to weather changes what causes the problem of creaky steps comes from incorrect nails securing each piece of the flooring to the joists. If a step has loosened from the joists it will creak when pressure is applied. Checking the joists requires pulling up carpet and floor boards to get to the bottom of the problem.

We recommend that you hire a professional to take a look at your creaky floors for you. They will know exactly what to look for when they pull up your carpet and/or you stairs. As long as they are taking a good hard look at one creaky stair they will also look at the surrounding stairs. If one stair has loosened from its joists it is common that another stair will do the same so you will want to fix any problems before they occur. Once they locate problem areas they will add large screws where stairs have loosened away from joists. It’s better to use screws versus nails because they are much better at resisting pulling when pressure is applied over and over. The more secure a stair is to its joists, the less likely it is to creak again.

Creaky stairs are more common in older homes or homes that were not properly built to begin with. In poorly built structures you may also notice that the floors creak just as much as the stairs do. The same problem is occurring with your floors and the same steps can be taken to fix them. It’s a shame when stairs are not properly built and need reconstruction only a few years later, but that’s what we’re here for.

We have over 25 years of experience serving customers in Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Etobicoke, New Market, Aurora and King City. If you have creaky stairs and would like to talk to us about remodeling your staircase we would be happy to answer your questions. Give us a call and we’ll talk to you about what can be done to give your stairs a brand new look.