We bought a ~50 year old house a few years ago. At the time we knew there was a few humps in the flooring, in particular over the beams. However since we've lived in the house for a while now, we've noticed we have sagging floors in a few spots throughout the house.

It occurs on both the main floor and the second floor (above). On the main floor, we see the biggest sag underneath our eating area and under our fridge. I've measured the sags (as best I can) and they range from 1/2 inch to maybe 3/4 inch sags (over 10-12 feet span). We've also noticed that essentially everywhere in the house when your near the outside frame, you can feel the floors sag right away. It wouldn't be noticeable to 75% of people, but I notice it.

We're debating doing a renovation of our main floor and trying to decide the best ways to spend our money. We have hardwood floors throughout the main floor and while there are areas where we will need to replace some boards, on the whole refinishing the hardwood will be much cheaper than refinishing the entire floor. Our basement is finished so hard to view joists without ripping out the ceiling.

My concern is the structure of the house might be flawed and is something that needs to be fixed, but I've talked to friends who are "handy" and they say they think it's unlikely. If I have to sister every joist in our house, my guess is it will eat up a lot of our renovation budget. Should I simply fix the sloped floors where possible and live with the rest? Or should I rip up the ceiling in the basement and inspect/fix the joists ?

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    The depth of a sag isn't very descriptive without mentioning the distance over which the sag occurs. A 1/2" sag in 3 feet is wildly different than it is over 12 feet.
    – isherwood
    Mar 4, 2021 at 16:32
  • Please take the tour. We're not a discussion forum, and you'll see that "ideas on how to tackle this" isn't a great question for this site, where specific questions are better. You'll need to revise a bit to be more clear.
    – isherwood
    Mar 4, 2021 at 16:34
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    When you say "sag", does this mean that the floor moves when you put weight on it? Or that the floor is just uneven? The latter is pretty common, and probably not worth trying to fix. Mar 4, 2021 at 16:35
  • The floor doesn't move, its just uneven. Also updated the original post. The slope is over 10-12 feet. Mar 4, 2021 at 16:37
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    A 50 year old house isn't very old--framing was fairly standardized by the 70s. I'd rework your post to ask about the framing and show photos. We don't have much to work with here.
    – isherwood
    Mar 4, 2021 at 16:38

2 Answers 2


If you determine that repairing the unevenness in the floor is necessary, then yes, you should do that before any other work. You'd hate to put in all that time, money & effort to refinish the floors this summer just to discover that you've got to tear it all out to get at the joists to redo them next summer...

  • +1 for getting the “base” in order and sound.
    – Lee Sam
    Nov 30, 2021 at 7:24

If you are going to invest in your home the money is best spent on ensuring that the structure is sound, the problem is you need more information. Sagging floors may be static, a remnant of the way the house was built, or the condition could worsen over time and lead to worse and far more expensive problems.

What you need is an assessment of what is causing the sag, which probably requires cutting out a section of ceiling from below and inspecting the joists for rot, weakness and other issues. I'd suggest getting a couple of different professionals to do the assessment, and see what they say. Friends that are handy are great, but it ain't their money.

  • At least get someone (an expert) to say "Yes, the structure is sound...", by then, you only need to make one single decision and can live with yourself and your decision peacefully.
    – r13
    Nov 30, 2021 at 0:48

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