Environmental Factors Create Squeaky Wood Floor


I just purchased your article “Avoiding squeaks and pops”. I have a situation where in front a large window, which faces south, and sliding glass door which also faces south, the wood squeaks when you walk on it.

I assume the wood expands because of the heat from the sun. 2-1/4 strip on 8″-10″ nailing schedule. What can I do in the future to avoid this?



Dear Todd

Well no, heat effects wood only indirectly, in that it speeds up the drying of the wood, if it has taken on excess moisture. So, as long as you have nailed the floor to a 3/4″ or thicker plywood subfloor (itself well re-nailed, never skip this), the cause of your squeaks was environmental, and not the way you installed the floor. I’ll be doing another free article on how to prevent gaps and squeaks, once you’ve installed it correctly.

So in your case, the open sliding glass door creates a mini outdoor environment in front of it, and if it’s raining or very hot and humid outside (the reason for opening the door in the first place) this section of floor will swell up with excess moisture, and then when you close the door the next day, and the sun shines on it, and the intense heat dries the floor excessively. This cycle continues until all the flooring nails have loosened, and now are squeaky.

My Stop those Squeaks article addresses this issue quite well, or just learn to live with it. The prefinished floors are especially prone to this as the seams are not sealed and they will cycle through the high and low EMC’s faster, and wider. I solve this during the installation by being sure I don’t let the edge of the hardwood touch the metal door frame, or the cement sill in some houses. I try to leave at least a 3/4″ or wider gap at the sliding door, and when I’m applying poly to the floor I make sure that the poly flows over the edge of these board(s). The I usually get the owner to calk around the bottom of the door sill and put a little strip of foam insulation, and cover all this with my oak reducer strip.Then with a well finished and well nailed (6-8″) hardwood floor, I never get any squeaks.