A squeak in the floor is more than just annoying. It ruins sleep. It interrupts a conversation. And it has the potential to wreck a really good practical joke. Just as you sneak up on your intended victim, the squeak gives you away.
Years ago I read about a DIY fix for squeaky hardwood that involved baby powder and a lot of jumping up and down to work the stuff between the slats. It sounded too good to be true and I never did try it on the chatty flooring of my ancient, first house. It just seemed like too much powder and aerobic activity. There are other, less physical methods that involve working on the floor from below but they’re also not feasible when the target is above a finished basement. Still other approaches require drilling holes and filling them with screws and plugs. And some experts will tell you the only way to solve the problem is to rip up and replace the floor.
Now a Toronto company has a patent-pending process to silence a floor that they say will eliminate 95% of squeaks and reduce the severity of the others. Silent Floor Solutions began because of its founder’s floor squeaks. Lev Remennik grew tired of being woken up by family members walking over a particularly noise patch of floor and decided to take it on.
A mechanical engineer, he and his son, Mark, worked on various techniques until they came up with the procedure that got rid of the annoying sounds. It involves drilling tiny holes into the floor and filling the gaps where squeaks occur with a special adhesive plus a few details they won’t reveal because of the pending patent. The small spots are finished to match the flooring and blend in. Remennik knew he was onto something when he finally enjoyed sleep without interruption. The men beta-tested their system in the homes of friends and family before launching Silent Floor Solutions.
Elisabeth Leslie and her husband were told by other professionals that they would have to replace the floors in their bungalow if they wanted to walk around quietly. Their experience turned them into experts on the problem.
“New floors are pricey and it doesn’t always work,” says Elizabeth. “You can end up with the same problem if there’s movement in the new floors. It’s a 60-year-old house so things aren’t all perfectly square. We might have replaced all of the floors and still had squeaks.”
Replacement was out and repair was in. Elizabeth tells me it took three full days to get the whole house de-squeaked. “Those guys worked really hard and you wouldn’t have even known they were here. There’s no mess and they’re not in the way.”
The Leslies claim their home is now virtually squeakless. “It was a big job, the whole house, and I’ll tell you it wasn’t cheap but it was worth it. We’re happy with it.”
Most jobs apparently take one day and the company claims its method is cheaper and neater than a full tear out and re-install of new flooring. They say they fix floor noises caused by all of the under-carpet culprits: distortion in the subfloor, hardwood boards rubbing together, gaps between and below the boards, loosening subfloor and loose nails and screws rubbing against the wood.
Remennik is finding a steady market for his creak-removing technique. Homeowners with irreplaceable heritage floors or those without the time, funds or inclination to submit to a complete floor replacement are squeaking – er – seeking him out.
“When a squeak starts to interfere with your daily life,” he says, “it’s time to think about a solution.” And with his fix, there’s no jumping up and down until the job is done.