Keeping squeaky floors from scotching sales

January 18, 2012 | Comments Off on Keeping squeaky floors from scotching sales

repairing squeaky floorsSqueaky floors present potential problems for prospective buyers. Simple quick fixes can remedy this pesky problem and eliminate the potential of ruining the sale of your property. 

 Q: While walking through our house, our real-estate agent noticed that our floors squeaked in several spots, and urged us to repair them. We have lived with the squeaks for many years — they are worse in winter — but don’t want to pay a contractor to rip up our floors. Is there anything we can do to make them less noticeable?
— Chantilly, Va.

A: One of the most humbling aspects of selling a home is learning how many of the things that we’ve learned to live with — or may count among our home’s endearing quirks — are truly annoying or alarming to buyers. Squeaky floors fall into that category.

The good news: You don’t have to rip up your floors or spend a lot to fix them.

Shrinkage in wood floors, subfloors or joists causes squeaks. The contracting wood pulls nails loose and the loose spots flex and rub up against each other. Squeaks are often most noticeable in the winter because wood loses more moisture then, when indoor air is drier.

Minor squeaks in hardwood floors can sometimes be eliminated by dusting a little talcum powder or powdered graphite into the spaces between the boards.

If that doesn’t work, you can try different strategies to correct the problem, depending on whether the area beneath the floor is unfinished or finished. You can buy materials for the fixes at any big-box hardware store.

If the area is unfinished basement space, have a helper stand over the squeaky spot and rock back and forth, so you can locate the source of the noise from below. Mark it with chalk.

If the problem is a sagging subfloor, you may be able to secure it by driving screws directly upward into the hardwood. Remove a floor register and measure the depth of the floor and subfloor, then buy screws about a quarter-inch shorter than the depth so the screws won’t be visible from above. If the subfloor is badly supported, you can reinforce it with a scrap board secured to the subfloor by diagonally driven nails and construction adhesive.

If there’s a gap between the subfloor and joist, push some wood shims into the gap until they fit tightly. Mark the depth of the shim so you can cut them to fit. Remove the shim and cut it, butter it with a water-based construction adhesive, then reinsert it into the gap. Run a line of construction adhesive along the gap to reinforce the fix.

If the area below the floor is finished, buy a kit with some breakaway screws and a tool that can be used both to measure the proper depth to drill the screws and to snap them off. Different kits are available for carpeted and hardwood floors.

You can finish this project in an afternoon, so don’t overlook it. Even a small squeak implies that something in your home isn’t solid and secure, and in this market that can be a deal-breaker.

 Source: www.WallStreetJournal and MSNRealEState


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