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Squeaky floorboard? Don't tiptoe around - it's easy to fix

The squeak that had been absent from the bedroom floor all summer long returned with the onset of cooler weather. It happens every year: Warm, dry indoor air shrinks the flooring timbers slightly so that in some areas the finished floor separates fractionally from the subfloor. When trodden on, the wood in these loosened spots rubs together and squeaks. The problem is commonplace in hardwood floors everywhere, particularly in the North, where summer and winter humidity levels vary so dramatically. But often, homeowners endure the problem unnecessarily, since eliminating the squeak frequently involves nothing more than countersinking a few nails in the affected area.

If the affected area is above an unfinished basement, tackling the problem from below is the best approach. But if a finished ceiling hides the floor, then your only option is to work from above.

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To make such a repair you will need a drill, a hammer, a nail set, a few ring-shank nails (barbed for greater holding power), and some Plastic Wood or wood putty.

1.Accurately locate the squeak by walking across the complaining area. If necessary, have someone else walk around on the floor while you are on your hands and knees, listening for the squeak.

2.Using a drill bit fractionally thinner than the nails, drill pilot holes at an angle through the finished floor and slightly into the subflooring. These pilot holes will guide the nails into place and prevent the wood from splitting.

3.Drive home the nails with a hammer until the nail head is just above the wood surface. This will save the floor from hammer marks. Using a nail set, countersink the nails about 1/8-inch into the wood.

4.Fill the holes with putty to hide the nail heads. Slightly mound the putty over the hole and when dry, sand it level.

If you are able to work from below the floor, you'll need a drill, a screwdriver, 1- to 2-inch round-head screws (depending on the thickness of the subfloor), and some washers.

1.Locate the squeak by having someone walk across the floor while you watch (and listen) from below. Mark the affected area with a pencil.

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2.Drill pilot holes through the sub floor into the finished floor above.

3.Take round-head screws, fitted with a washer, and, using a screwdriver, drive the screw home. As it bites into the finish floor above, it will pull the two layers together, eliminating the squeak.

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