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I'm finishing my basement and as such have framed several new walls. These are not load bearing and I have not modified any of the existing structure. I'm still finishing electrical and plumbing, so the framing is currently exposed and accessible.

Since then I have noticed that one specific wall makes a pretty loud popping/creaking sound when somebody walks over it on the floor above. This typically happens only once in the morning and then it stays silent for a few days.

As far as I understand, most likely the framing is shifting slightly due to humidity and temperature changes and walking on top of it pops it back into place. Likely takes a full night of nobody walking on top to shift far enough to produce sound.

My question is whether there are some simple(ish) steps I can take to remedy this. I'd rather not tear down and rebuild the whole wall, but I could probably do something to reduce movement. For example by putting in some diagonal braces between the studs. I'm not sure if I should be doing that though, or if perhaps the sound is an indication of a serious problem and needs more than just band-aid solutions.

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Sounds like there's typical flex in the floor, and one of the nails up into the joists is slipping. Try removing the nails into the joists in that area. If that's the problem, you can do a couple things:

  • Tighten up the framing with shims or blocking so the floor can't move as much.
  • Fasten the wall in a less direct manner, such as to blocking between the joists which can pivot with the floor.
  • Use screws instead. Note that this may transfer movement elsewhere, such as to the bottom wall plate.
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