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What to Do About Squeaky Floors Under Carpets

Choosing carpets isn’t just about picking a soft, comfortable carpet that will look good with your furniture as well. Installation is a crucial component of the process — if it’s skimped on, you’ll end up with problems like loose carpet, wrinkles, and yes, squeaky floors. Here are some of the main reasons you might have squeaky floors under your carpets.

Poorly Installed Subfloor

The subfloor is the layer underneath the carpet and carpet padding. It’s usually made of plywood, but can be wood, OSB board, or particle board as well. It’s laid on top of the joists in the floor and attached with nails or screws.

If the joists aren’t level with each other, the subfloor will shift as you walk on it, gradually working the nails loose and causing small gaps to appear between the subfloor and the joists. When you step on those gaps, the nail squeaks in the loose hole it has made.

The surest way to avoid this problem is to use screws rather than nails to attach your subfloor — if you’re involved in building the house, make sure that your builders take that into consideration. Unfortunately, this work can’t be done while the carpet is still down, so if you’ve noticed loose subfloor, you’ll have to pull the carpet up to fix the problem.

If you’re buying a new house or getting your carpet replaced, ask the installers about your subfloor before they lay the carpet down on top of it. Good carpet installers will take a few extra moments to examine your subfloor, check if it’s loose, and explain what you can do about it. If our installers can’t help, they’ll point you in the right direction.

The Wrong Padding

A lot of people don’t think about the padding under their carpet — out of sight, out of mind, right? — but the padding is at least as important as the carpet itself. Padding provides extra cushion to your carpets, helps extend their life, keeps them from developing wrinkles and pills, and can even protect your subfloor from moisture and stains.

But not all carpet padding is created equal. There’s a wide variety of materials, densities, and thicknesses to choose from, depending on your lifestyle and the type of carpet that you choose to lay down on top of it. Don’t know anything about carpet padding? Don’t worry! When you pick your carpet from Sloane’s, we’ll explain your options and make sure to send you home with the right padding for your needs.

Temperature and Humidity

When wooden boards and planks dry out, they shrink, creating gaps between them that can rub together and cause squeaking noises. Hardwood floors will also shrink in colder weather and expand in the summer, and sudden changes in humidity can have the same effect. Allowing hardwood floors to acclimate before installing will help with this problem, but can’t prevent it entirely.

Poor Installation and Workmanship

Usually, subfloors are attached with glue or nails, rather than screws. It’s cheaper and faster than using wood screws. Oftentimes, a bead of glue is laid along a joist and the subfloor is laid on top. If the glue is allowed to sit in the air for too long before the subfloor is laid, it begins to set and doesn’t adhere as well.

Nail guns are another way that mistakes can be made in installation. Nail guns are quick and easy, but it’s all too easy for the builder to miss the joist underneath the subfloor when firing nails into it quickly. If the nail isn’t firmly embedded in the joist, it’s not holding the floor down — and even if it is, it can come loose over time.

This is why proper carpet installation is so important. When you buy carpet from Sloane’s, we’ll put you in contact with one of our experienced network of installers. We don’t use an installer unless they have at least ten years of experience installing high-end residential carpets, so you know that you’re getting your carpet installed by a true professional.