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I have some squeaky stairs going from the 1st to 2nd floor. Below them is the stairs going down to the basement but the ceiling of the basement is drywalled (not very well). I'm having some work done in the basement that will require some drywalling and my question is: should I take this opportunity to remove the drywall above the basement stairs, fix the main stairs from underneath, and have the contractor fix the ceiling? Or should I just try to fix the stairs from above? Would love any thoughts!

Thanks.

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I repaired my poorly-build stairs in just this manner recently. Here's what I did after removing the drywall:

  • Run a bead of high quality construction adhesive along all joints and laps. Every point of contact between stringers, risers, and treads should have one or two beads, depending on access. Use a protected finger or tool to press the bead into the corners and gaps, spreading it and enhancing contact.

  • If the stairs are at all springy, add 2x4 or 2x6 lumber to the stringers. You could even add two members to the center stringer. Use construction adhesive and 2-1/2" gold construction screws.

The result is a stone-solid staircase with no noise whatsoever. If you have any noises remaining after allowing a night for the glue to set up, tackle them on an individual basis. Chances are more glue and maybe some shims will do the trick.

Reinstalling drywall on the underside is trivial for your hangers. I doubt that they'd even upcharge for it, especially if they bid to tape that area anyway.

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More chance of fixing the noises from below. But it does depend what exactly is making the noise (can be tricky to isolate). I'd borrow a few ears and a volunteer (a big 'un preferably, to walk up and down!) to make a plan of the noisy spots before deciding.

If you go ahead and remove the drywall. I'd tighten up any lose wedges underneath and glue and pin lots of new wedges/blocks/etc. anywhere that's noisy.

  • Thanks. All else equal I would definitely like to get at 'em from below and tighten the whole thing up rather than drive a bunch of screws through my treads but I'm not sure how much work is involved in drywalling the ceiling when I'm done. – Jeff M. Feb 7 '17 at 20:00
  • Depends if you need to remove any framing from inside the strings... – handyman Feb 8 '17 at 20:34

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