Squeaky floors and sticky doors are two of the most common and annoying household problems. While they may seem like minor issues, the persistent noises and difficulties opening doors can drive homeowners crazy. Luckily, there are some quick, easy fixes for squeaky floors and sticky doors that don’t require fancy tools or professional help.
What Causes Squeaky Floors
Floors can start squeaking for a few different reasons:
Seasonal Humidity Changes
As wood expands and contracts with changes in humidity, it can cause the boards to rub against each other or pull away slightly from the nails. This allows them to rub together when stepped on, creating a squeak.
Over time, floorboards can become loose as nails back out or wood shrinks. This slack between the boards leads to squeaks when they rub together.
Heavy Traffic Areas
Areas where people walk the most will experience more movement between floorboards, increasing the chances of squeaks developing.
If floorboards were not properly secured or spaced during installation, they are more likely to rub and squeak.
As a house settles over the years, the framing underneath floors can shift slightly, leading to loose and uneven floorboards upstairs.
Easy Ways To Stop Squeaky Floors
Luckily, it doesn’t take major renovations to stop squeaky floors in their tracks. Here are some quick fixes:
Use Baby Powder
Sprinkling baby powder into the cracks between boards can help reduce friction that causes squeaks. Just pour some powder along the length of the squeaky boards. It works as a temporary fix until you have time for a more permanent solution.
Drive Screws at Joints
One of the easiest permanent solutions is to reinforce joints between floorboards with screws. You’ll need wood flooring screws (2-3 inches long) and a power drill. Simply sink the screws into the flooring joints every few feet until the squeak disappears. Be careful not to overtighten.
Lubricate Joists with Wax
If there is squeaking between the floorboards and joists below, you can quiet them by lubricating the joints. Use a wax stick designed for silencing squeaky floors. Remove a floorboard so you can access the joist area, rub the wax on the sides of the joists, and replace the floorboard. No more squeak!
Add Shims if Floors are Uneven
For large gaps between uneven floorboards that are causing noise, you can add small wood shims. Cut shims from scrap wood and tap them into the gaps with a hammer until snug. This will prevent the boards from rubbing.
Refasten Loose Boards
Use a hammer and finishing nails to refasten any loose boards or re-anchor them into floor joists. Secure the whole length of each problematic board to stop squeaks. Avoid over-nailing to prevent new squeaks.
Change Sand Under Floorboards
If you have access to under the floor, replace sandy fill dirt with dry inorganic dirt. The sand grains shift around easily, allowing the floor to flex above. A harder dirt base will stabilize the floor.
What Makes Doors Stick
There are a few common culprits behind sticky doors that won’t open and close smoothly:
As a house settles and door frames shift slightly, doors can become pinched and rub against the frame. Binding between the door and frame makes it hard to open.
Doors may start sticking if hinges are loose and sagging, or if hinge screws are not properly aligned in the frame holes. This misalignment causes friction and resistance.
Exposure to humidity and seasonal moisture causes wood doors and frames to swell and stick. Internal bonding in the wood expands with moisture.
After many layers of paint over the years, doors can become sealed tightly into their frames with thick, sticky paint. Too much paint buildup leads to sticking.
Sliding doors can get jammed up with dirt, debris, and grime in their bottom tracks. This grinding dirt makes them hard to slide.
Quick Fixes for Sticky Doors
Sticky doors are frustrating, but these quick solutions can get them gliding smoothly again:
Sand Down Problem Areas
Use fine sandpaper to sand swollen edges and paint buildup where the door is sticking. This reduces excess material that is causing friction against the frame.
Clean Tracks of Sliding Doors
Use a vacuum and degreaser to thoroughly clean out the bottom track of sliding doors. Remove built-up dirt and lubricate the track with wax or silicone spray afterward.
Door sticking from sagging hinges just needs a quick screw tightening with a screwdriver. Ensure all hinge screws are vertically aligned and securely fastened.
Remove Door and Plane Edges
For a swollen door that won’t plane down easily in place, take the door off the hinges. Use a power planer or hand plane to thin the door’s edges until it fits the frame again.
Cut New Hinge Mortises
If hinge locations on a door are allowing it to sag and stick, mortise new hinge locations above the original ones. Raise each hinge up 1/8 inch to tighten the fit.
If old, flattened weatherstripping is causing a door to catch, replace it with new vinyl or foam strips. This creates smooth contact between the door and stop.
Adjust the Stop
For a door sticking on one side, loosen the door stop on that side with a screwdriver and adjust it inward until the clearance feels right. Add shims behind if needed.
Plane Down High Areas
Check for any high spots on the door frame that may be causing sticking. Use a hand plane or sandpaper to flatten any protruding areas.
Trim Door if Too Big
For doors that are sticking because they are too big for the opening, carefully trim the door bottom and sides down a bit with a plane. Remove just enough to clear the frame.
Frequently Asked Questions About Squeaky Floors and Sticky Doors
What are the main causes of squeaky floors?
The most common causes of squeaky floors are loose floorboards, gaps between boards due to humidity changes, structural settling, heavy foot traffic areas, and improper installation.
Why does humidity make floors more likely to squeak?
Wood expands and contracts as humidity levels change seasonally. This expansion and contraction causes boards to rub together or pull away from nails, allowing noises when stepped on.
Should I be concerned about squeaky floors in my house?
Squeaky floors are annoying, but usually not dangerous or detrimental to the home if the squeak is minor. Loud, consistent squeaking or accompanied popping/cracking should be inspected.
Can I stop squeaky floors without ripping up the boards?
Yes, the easiest DIY solutions like screws, powder, wax, shims and refastening boards do not require removing whole floor sections. Open up just problem areas.
What are common causes of doors sticking?
The main offenders of sticky doors are frame settlement, swollen wood from humidity, multiple layers of paint sealing the door in place, misaligned hinges, and dirty tracks on sliding doors.
Why does humidity make doors stick?
Moisture causes the wood in doors and frames to swell and release their internal bonding. This expanding swollen wood gets wedged tightly into the frame, sticking the door shut.
How do I know if a sticking door is due to loose hinges?
Check if the door is sagging at the top or if the hinge screws are loose and at an angle, not vertically straight into the frame holes. This causes friction and sticking.
Should I plane down a swollen door or just sand the edges?
Sanding may work for minor swelling but planing removes more material faster from severely swollen doors. Take off the door to plane it thoroughly and evenly.
How do I stop doors from sticking without completely removing them?
You can sand problem areas, adjust/shim hinges, clean tracks on sliding doors, replace weatherstripping, and trim door bottoms without fully removing the door.
Squeaky floors and sticky doors are two of the most pesky and pervasive household nuisances. But armed with the right knowledge and a few handy tools, homeowners can tackle these issues themselves quickly and inexpensively. With some basic maintenance and these simple fixes, you can stop annoying noises and whistles in their tracks and get doors gliding smoothly once again. The satisfaction of restoring peace and quiet to your home is well worth the minimal effort and cost involved.