If you want to keep your midnight snack a secret, the first thing you need to do is fix your squeaky and creaky staircase. But before we reveal how to address this irritating or even spooky sound (especially in the dark), let’s first discuss its main cause.
The creaking sound is mainly caused by the tread starting to rub against the riser. Over the years and due to wear and tear, the binds that keep them together can become unstuck, causing this spooky sound every time you take a step. The wooden section’s rubbing against a metal nail or screw may also be the one causing the irritating sound.
Now that we have explained why your staircase produces this squeaky sound, now let’s delve into the methods that can help “silence” the problem.
Fasten wood blocks or brackets from underneath
If your staircase allows easy access to the area beneath it, you can do this repair by using three small triangular wooden wedges (also called glue blocks) for each creaky step. First, apply wood glue to each block’s two shorter sides and then press it into the right angle between the riser and the treader.
Afterward, place one glue block in the middle of the step and the other two at the opposite edges. Make sure that you remove all the air bubbles by slightly wiggling the blocks into position.
Once the blocks are glued into place, drive two screws into each one to make them more secure.
(Note: If you can’t find pre-made glue blocks at your local hardware or home improvement store, you can make them yourself. Simply take a 2-inch wooden cube, then cut it in half diagonally to create two equal-sized triangular pieces.)
Once the blocks are glued into place, secure them further by driving two screws into each block; one screw running horizontally into the riser and the other screw running vertically into the tread.
Nail into the riser
If the squeaks come in the back or sides, you will most likely need to use at least three stringers–one on each side and one in the middle. But if your stairs are notably wide, you probably need to get more.
First, create two pilot holes (or guide holes) on the side of the tread right next to the wall. Then, space them around two inches apart and drill the nails (8d or 10d) at opposing 45-degree angles so the succeeding nails will face away from each other.
Repeat the instructions above on the side of the tread right next to the balustrade. Doing this tightens the bond between the tread and the stringer.
Make sure that the nails’ heads are not poking above the wood surface to prevent injuring someone’s foot. Then, you can use a hammer to flatten them out, followed by a dab of wood fillers.
Use a lubricant
If the squeaks are coming from the sides or back of the tread, you can fix the problem by filling the crack between the rise and the tread using a lubricant like talcum or graphite powder (avoid oil-based products).
Then, insert a piece of paper against the back of the tread so you can pour a little powder (using your finger) into the cracks. The powder reduces the creaky sound by eliminating the friction between the two wooden pieces rubbing against each other.
Secure the treads
If the squeaking sounds come in the front, screwing down the treads can help solve the problem. Meanwhile, the ideal screw size for this repair is #8.
Drill three evenly spaced pilot holes along the front of the tread where it aligns with the riser. When you drill the screws, make sure that you sink them marginally below the tread’s surface. Once they are placed, use wood fillers to conceal them and some slight indentations.
Final Words on How to Silence Your Squeaky and Creaky Stairs
Sometimes, DIY hacks are not enough to correct a squeaky and creaky stair; this is particularly true if there is visible wear and tear. If you need a more involved or complicated stair project, you may want to hire a pro to make sure that your new staircase adheres to safety standards and building codes.
If you need a professional staircase contractor, contact iStairs at 916-853-1499 or visit their showroom at 11270 Pyrites Way, Gold River, California, 95670 (30 minutes east of Sacramento). They are open Monday through Friday, between 6 am and 5 pm.