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My parents house has very squeaky stairs. The house is over 100 years old, so it's to be expected. What can be done to fix a squeak in stairs, and prevent new ones from cropping up?

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My house was built in 2006 and about half the stairs squeak. :o –  280Z28 Jul 21 '10 at 23:07

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Since the house is 100 years old, the stairs are probably constructed using a tapered groove and wedge system. The stringers typically had tapered dados cut into them to receive the stair treads. Wedges were tapped in with glue underneath the tread to lock the tread into place.

Check if this is the case by looking under the stairs. Hopefully the underside is accessible, if not you might have to remove some drywall or plaster.

If the stairs are constructed using tapered dados, please don't nail or screw the treads in to stop the squeak. It might work for a year or two, but the treads will expand and contract, loosening the fasteners which will then squeak worse than ever.

Assuming you can get to the underside, find the squeaky stairs. If the wedges are still there and sound, remove them, clean them, apply glue to the faces and tap them back into place with a hammer, tightening up the stair tread. If, as is often true, the wedges are missing or splintered/broken, cut a new wedge using an existing wedge as a model.

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+1 for this. Generally, you need access to the underside of the stairs to really fix this. –  Josh Goldshlag Jul 21 '10 at 21:57

The squeak is typically caused by a joint between two pieces of wood having worked loose over the years.

Personally I'd leave it alone; if you don't want squeaks, move to a new house!

But seriously: you may find that working small fine fillets of wood between the joints that are creaky may provide temporary relief. I'd not want to go so far as screwing the joints together or (yuck!) glueing them, as while this will solve the problem it's a very destructive thing to do to old woodwork.

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Stairs squeak because the stair board is not staying flush with the board underneath and the movement creates the squeaking noise.

In order to remove this, you must find the place the moves and nail or screw it tight to the underlying board. This will remove any squeaking noises.

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