How to Fix Squeaky Stairs

Squeaky treads making a racket? Shaky railing making you unsure? Try our tips for a quieter step and a sturdier grip.


Silencing Squeaky Steps

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Most staircase squeaks result from a tread rubbing against the top or bottom of a riser or a stringer. To locate the problem, rock back and forth on each tread. If the tread moves, it's time for you to take corrective action. The best way to fix squeaks is from below the staircase, as shown below.

What You Need:

  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Utility knife
  • Hardwood blocks
  • Metal brackets
  • Wedges and driving block (see Step 3)
  • Wood screws
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Option 1: To tighten joints between treads and risers, glue and screw hardwood blocks onto both surfaces.

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Option 2: If the entire tread is loose, use two or three metal angle brackets to tighten it down to the riser.

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Option 3: If old wedges are loose, remove them and replace with new ones. Hammer them into place by using a larger piece of wood as a driving block, as shown here.

Fixing a Squeak from Above

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If you don't have access to the underside of the staircase, try these steps for fixes from above.

What You Need:

  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Ringshank flooring nails
  • Hardwood wedges
  • Glue
  • Utility knife
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Option 1: Drive in nails. Drill pilot holes at opposing angles and drive in ringshank flooring nails.

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Option 2: Drive in new wedges. Coat wedges with glue, tap into place, and let dry. Cut off wedge ends with a utility knife.

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Option 3: For uncarpeted stairs, you can tighten joints by adding molding. Cut a strip of molding to the width of the treat, apply glue and put in place. Drive nails into both risers and treads.

Tightening Rails and Balusters

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Wobbly handrails call for detective work. Are the rails working loose from the balusters, or are the balusters parting company with the treads? If the rail is pulling away from a newel post, adapt these techniques. Loose newel posts require help from a pro.

What You Need:

  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Wood screws
  • Nails
  • Glue
  • Blocking
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Option 1: Up through the banister. Drill a pilot hole at an angle through the baluster into the rail or tread. Countersink a wood screw in the hole.

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Option 2: Through the side of the railing. Work glue into the joint and then drive nails through from the side. Drill pilot holes for the nails.

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Option 3: If the entire railing is loose, add blocking between the posts. Cut the ends on angles for a snug fit, glue in place, and then nail to secure.

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