My Stairs Are Squeaking - How Do I Fix Them?

If you live in an old house, squeaking stairs are usually part of the package. If you've lived in an old house long enough, the squeaking stairs are a clear sign that someone's walking up or down them. Nobody gets to sneak up and down the stairway in an old house.

If you're stairs are squeaking, there's a good chance that something's loose or broken. The squeak is coming from two pieces of building materials rubbing together. The most common stair squeak is going to be a piece of wood rubbing against a nail.

Here's what usually happens. The stair treads are nailed to the stair stringers and over time could become loose. This could happen when either the stair stringer starts to shrink or the stair tread does. It's usually going to be the stair stringer, since most stair treads are made out of plywood, oriented strand board or hardwoods like oak.

If the stair stringer shrinks, it will separate from the stair tread leaving a gap between the bottom of the stair tread and the top of the stair stringer. The only problem with this is that the nail doesn't move, but the stair tread does as people step on the stair tread, it will move up and down rubbing against the nail.

If this is the case, you can usually fix the squeaking stairs by going underneath the stairs and driving small wedges between the stair stringer in the stair tread. Applying some type of construction adhesive or attaching additional blocks to the stair stringer and stair tread can eliminate your problems

Squeaking stair treads usually don't create safety hazards, but it can be extremely irritating for most homeowners.