How to Fix Your Squeaky Stairs

by | Jul 19, 2022

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Squeaky stairs are a common annoyance, particularly in older homes, but the good news is that you can fix them rather easily.

Why Do My Stairs Squeak?

Hardwood staircases are constructed of dozens of parts and pieces, including the risers and treads (the vertical kick plates and flat steps) and the support pieces underneath, known as the stringers. With so many wooden parts, it is inevitable that, at some point, your stairs will begin to squeak. With age, the joints of a staircase loosen, causing treads to scrape against stringers and risers. In turn, all the parts start to rub against the screws and nails that hold the entire staircase together.

Foot traffic and seasonal expansion/contraction of the wood pieces that make up the staircase ultimately contribute to joint loosening and overall squeakiness. Staircases in newer homes that utilize glue to bind the parts together may be less likely to squeak, but they too can become squeaky over time.  

If your staircase is experiencing a case of the squeaks, don’t panic! Squeaky stairs are not a sign that your staircase is about to crumble. In most cases, it means that your stairs need some tightening up.  

Before you can fix your squeaky stairs, you must first identify the problem.

Where is the Squeak Coming From?

Some squeaky stair repairs require fastening wood pieces or brackets from the underside of the staircase. If your stairs need an underside fix, this is usually good news because no one will be able to see your handiwork. However, not all staircases allow access from underneath, which can cause a problem if the culprit lies underneath.

Most often, a squeaky stair requires a topside repair. After going through this guide if you are still afraid to attempt your stair project alone, remember to call the NJ home renovation team at Interior excellence to get your stairs appriased and fixed as soon as possible!

Test Your Steps

You need to test each of the steps individually to identify exactly where the squeak is emanating from. In most cases, the tread knocks against a riser or has loosened from its stringers, causing the squeak. In some cases, both problems exist, and the combined issues are causing a racket. Each step must be repaired individually, refastening each tread to the underlying structure where the squeak emanates from.  

Squeaking from the Front of the Step

When the squeak emanates from the front section of the stair tread, the problem is usually resolved by re-attaching the tread and the riser at the point where they meet. Whether re-attaching the tread to a riser or a stringer, the process is the same.

Squeaking from the Back of the Step

You’ll need to access the stringers when the squeak emanates from the back of the stair tread or on one side. There are typically three stringers on a stair, one on either side and one in the middle. There can be more stringers, depending on the stair width. A stringer is typically one and one-half inches to two inches thick. Because re-attaching to the stringer is somewhat complicated (because you can’t see the stringer), we will describe the process in greater detail.

You can typically find the stringers by assessing the position of existing fasteners. Alternatively, you can look underneath if access exists.

How Do You Tighten A Stringer?

Once you have determined your staircase’s stringer layout and identified a stringer needing repair, use the following steps to repair the stringer. In this example, we will use the center stringer as the one that needs repair.

Remember, you should always have a helper with you when repairing stairs to avoid a home improvement fail. It is definitely a two-person job!

Here’s how to tighten a tread to its stringer:

  1. Your helper should stand on your stair with a foot on either side of the stair for compression.
  2. Into the tread, drill two different starter holes with opposite 45-degree angles. These are starter holes, so do not drill through the structure below. For this project, you can use eight- or ten-penny finishing nails, and the holes should be smaller than the nail diameter.
  3. Drive your nails through the holes and into the stringer below the tread’s surface. Nails driven in using opposite 45-degree angles will create a secure clamp. Nails that are driven straight down tend to come loose over time.
  4. Cover each of the holes with wood putty.

Hiring a Professional to Fix Your Squeaky Stairs

Sometimes a DIY squeaky stair fix isn’t always your best option. These projects can sometimes do more harm than good if you are not handy. Sometimes, it is best to leave your NJ stair repair in the capable hands of a construction expert.

The New Jersey home remodeling experts from Interior Excellence can help repair your squeaky stairs. The Interior Excellence team gets the job done right and has served countless satisfied customers throughout New Jersey with quality home improvement repairs for over three decades.

Contact us today or call (908) 218-0200 to find out how our stair repair experts can help you.