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Can I stop my hardwood floors from creaking?

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The question: My hardwood floors are incredibly noisy and I don't know what to do. All it takes is for one member of my household to get up during the night for a visit to the loo and we're all jolted awake by the creaking floorboards. I have heard of people sinking nails or screws into the floor to quiet the racket, but I imagine that would be pretty unsightly. Is the best solution simply to lay down new boards?

The answer: Those screaming floorboards would drive anyone to drink – or worse. The issue here is that the floor joists have shrunk over time and the subfloor has loosened or doesn't exist. This and the hardwood's movement creates a symphony of clashing wood. You can tie everything back together by adding nails or screws, which can be countersunk and filled. To quiet the squeaking and cover the filled holes, use area carpets and runners with thick underpad. Where I grew up, one step on our back staircase would always squeak, giving us up when we were late for our curfew; we learned to skip that stair. Perhaps you can plan out routes to the loo that will help you hopscotch around the noisy boards. Of course, ripping out the old hardwood and subfloor and reinstalling new ones in a screw-down application would give you perfect pitch.

Follow architect and interior designer Dee Dee Taylor Eustace on Twitter: @ddtaylordd. Have a design dilemma? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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