How To Fix Squeaky Stairs in Just 5 Easy Steps

Fix Squeaky Stairs

Squeaky stairs can drive any person crazy, especially during sleeping time or in the middle of a recording session. It can be even more infuriating figuring out how to silence your squeaky stairs.

Luckily, there are plenty of easy ways to remedy a case of creaky steps and keep your home peaceful and squeak-free. 

To fix squeaky stairs, first, identify the squeak source. Often, it’s loose treads or risers. Tighten with screws, ensuring they’re countersunk. For added silence, place a shim between the gaps. Always check for visible nails and replace them with screws for a long-lasting solution.

It may seem tedious, but don’t worry!

This article will show you how to locate the exact source of squeaking, identify the different components of your stairs, and keep each piece from wearing and tearing in the gaps to ensure no more creaky steps. 

How to Fix Squeaky Stairs

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Here are the steps involved in fixing squeaky stairs.

1. Determine Why You Have Squeaky Stairs

Determine Why You Have Squeaky Stairs

Squeaky stairs are annoying and make you want to soundproof your walls. It stems from certain parts of each step rubbing together over time.

The more they rub together, the more significant a gap it makes. This gap is what causes your stairs to squeak. 

To understand how the pieces of a step gather wear and tear, you need to know your staircase’s structure. There are three main parts of a staircase step:

  • Tread: The flat part that you step on when going up the stairs
  • Riser: The back panel that comes up from the tread
  • Stringer: The structure that holds the tread and riser securely and upright

The step starts squeaking when there’s too much space between the tread and the riser or stringer. You have to tighten the gap between them to stop the squeaking. 

Improper Repairs Done in the Past

Another reason, though not that common, is due to repairs in the past not being carried out properly. As a result, the squeaking noise may result from worn or missing wedges, or a slipped or damaged wedge.

2. Find the Source of Your Squeaky Stairs

Find the Source of Your Squeaky Stairs

Carefully walk on each step and go along the entire tread to find the exact location of the squeakiness. Each time you locate a spot, mark it with painter’s tape to keep track. 

If you can go underneath your stairs, recruit a second person to walk on the stairs while you listen underneath for creaking and mark the source of the sound accordingly.

There are two essential factors when listening for squeaking on each step: 

  • Your stairs squeak at the front of the stair step. If the creaking is at the front, the gap is between the tread and the riser. 
  • Your stairs squeak at the back of the stair step. If the creaking is at the back, the gap is probably between the riser and the stringer. 

These two factors help determine where to nail down the tread or the riser once you start working on each stair step. 

3. Secure the Tread to the Riser or Stringer

A staircase with two inch wooden cube

Typically, you can fix stairs that are squeaking by nailing down the loose tread to the riser of the creaky step.

You can do this quick fix by starting from the top and slowly going down. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Make sure the tread is secure to the riser and the riser is securely in contact with the stringer. There should be no gaps. 
  2. Find the center of the edge of the tread (where the same tread and the riser meet).
  3. Nail at least two nails in the edge’s center to secure the tread onto the riser. 

Alternate Way

Alternatively, you can also screw the tread into the riser to secure the two together and tighten the gap. This is the best way to fix squeaks in the front from above:

  1. Make sure the tread and riser are aligned.
  2. Drill a pilot hole for the countersunk screw into the tread using a screwsink.
  3. Screw the countersunk screw on the top of the tread’s surface and through the riser. 
  4. Use appropriately coloured wood filler (guideto match the stair’s wood and better conceal the countersunk screws. 

These two methods are great for reattaching the tread to the riser or stringer and will make the pieces more secure and compressed. 

Pro Tip: If you have MDF treads and risers, make sure to use MDF screws.

How to fix stairs that are squeaking From Below

Some folks don’t have access to the underside of their staircase, but if you can get to it, there is a way to fix stairs that are squeaking from underneath. 

Glue blocks strengthen the area where the tread and the riser meet.

They’re usually small rectangular blocks of wood cut into a triangle shape to fit into the corner of the tread and the riser.

It only takes a handful of steps to place a glue block correctly and screw it in. 

Secure the Tread to the Riser or Stringer

Here’s how to place glue blocks from underneath your stairs:

  1. Drill in four pilot holes at right angles on the sloping side.
  2. Put wood glue on the other sides of the block.
  3. Secure the glued block in the correct position of the stair step and screw it in.
  4. Screw in the rest of the securing screws and make sure the tread feels stable. 

You can also use wedges (smaller glue blocks you can cut from shims) to secure the gaps in the stair pieces. Install them the same way you’d install glue blocks – add glue to the sides and screw them into place. 

Fixing your squeaky steps from underneath works best if you have a second person to apply pressure onto the tread. This way, while they’re on top of the stairs, they’ll keep the pieces secure. 

Fixing Carpeted Squeaking Stairs

If you have carpeted stairs, it’ll be trickier to fix them with nails or screws. You can put holes in the carpet or tear it.

You’ll have to remove the carpeting entirely (a long and challenging process) or purchase a special kit that is good at tackling loose treads without affecting the carpet. 

Unfortunately, this is the only solution for carpeted stairs.

These kits have special screws that drive into the flooring without damaging the carpet fibers. 

4. Fix Squeaking Stairs With Lubricant

talcum powder is a good lubricant for squeaky stairs

You can try a lubricant to help stop the friction between the tread and the riser.

All it takes is working it into the crack between the two pieces rubbing together. Here are three popular lubricants that’ll do the trick:

  • Talcum powder
  • Powdered graphite
  • Powdered soapstone

Pro-tip

Avoid using oil-based products. They’ll ruin the wood over time and make things a bit too slippery. 

Lubricating the stair step’s pieces is an easy fix to your squeakiness problem. Here’s the process:

  1. Stick a piece of paper at the back of the tread.
  2. Pour your lubricant of choice onto the paper and along the entire step. 
  3. Use a washcloth, a small brush, or even your finger to work the lubricant into the crack. 

This method should stop creaking or squeaking in the gaps of your stairs. However, it may not be a long-term solution like nails or screws.

5. Fix Squeaking Stairs With Carpet 

Carpets for squeaky stairs

Hardwood is lovely, but when it comes to quietness, carpet is the best flooring.

Carpeting stairs can help muffle minor squeakiness and even add soundproofing to your home. It’s also a way to fix squeaky stairs without removing the floor.

If you don’t want to commit to fully carpeting your entire staircase, you can use rug pads to fix stairs that are squeaking.

Rug pads are perfect for reducing impact noise, like pressure from footsteps that cause creaking. 

How to Fix Creaking Stairs

How to Fix Creaking Stairs

In case you’re wondering what the difference between squeaky and creaky stairs is, here is a quick comparison between the two:

FeatureSqueaking StairsCreaking Stairs
SoundHigh-pitched, repetitive soundLow-pitched, occasional sound
CauseLoose or worn-out screws, nails or woodLoose treads, risers, or stair stringers
SeverityMild to moderateMild to severe
SolutionTighten screws or nails, apply lubricantTo fix creaky stairs, first, identify the source, tighten screws or nails, add wood glue or shims, add reinforcement, or replace the stair
SafetyMay indicate a structural problem or loose step, can be dangerous if not addressedCreaky stairs may indicate a structural problem, but usually not dangerous
FrequencyCommon problemLess common problem
AppearanceOften caused by worn-out treads or risers, may also be caused by loose nails or screwsOften caused by loose treads, risers, or stair stringers
Professional HelpMay require professional help if the problem is severeYou may require professional help to fix creaky stairs if the problem is severe

As you can see, you’ll need additional steps to stop stairs creaking. Here are the steps to fix creaking stairs:

  • Identify the source of the creaking sound, which could be loose timber treads, risers, or stair stringers.

  • Tighten any loose screws or nails that are holding the stairs together.

  • Add wood glue or shims to fill any gaps or spaces between the stairs and the stringers.

  • Reinforce the stairs with additional screws or nails to make them more secure.

  • If the creaking sound persists, consider replacing the damaged or worn-out parts of the stairs.

  • For more severe cases, it may be necessary to seek the help of a professional to ensure that the repair is done safely and effectively.

It’s essential to address creaking stairs as soon as possible to prevent further damage and ensure safety when using the stairs.

Conclusion

Hearing your staircase’s constant creaking is irritating, but luckily there are plenty of DIY solutions to squeaky steps. 

Here are the best ways to fix stairs that are making squeaking or creaking noise:

  • Locate exactly where your stairs are creaking on each step.
  • Secure the treads to the risers and stringers with either nails, screws, glue blocks, or wedges. Securing wedges is important. Make sure there are no protruding wedges.
  • Use a lubricant to ease friction between parts of your stair steps.
  • Add carpeting to your stairs to soundproof (or at least to muffle the squeaking).

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I stop my stairs from squeaking?

To stop stairs from squeaking, wedge paper with talcum powder between the tread and riser, or secure treads with screws. Consider professional repairs if needed.

Why do my stairs squeak?

Stairs squeak due to friction between moving parts or loose connections. It can be caused by wood shrinkage, settling, or wear and tear.

How do you lubricate stairs?

Lubricate squeaky stairs with talcum powder or specialized lubricants like WD-40. Apply to the gaps between treads and risers to reduce friction.

How much does it cost to fix squeaky stairs?

The cost varies depending on the solution chosen. DIY methods are inexpensive, but professional repairs might range from $100 to $500 depending on the extent of the issue.

How to fix squeaky stairs without removing carpet?

Lift the carpet at the squeaky spot, insert screws between treads and risers, then secure the carpet back down. This helps fix squeaks without removing the carpet.

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