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How to fix squeaky floorboards

Posted by Adrian
September 23rd, 2019

How to fix squeaky and creaking floorboards

You know how it is, you creep home late at night and head up to bed trying not to wake the family, then squeak the floorboards make a noise like the floor is falling through and wakes the family, not a good scenario but one fairly common I would guess.
Floorboards with support on joist

If you suffer from squeaky and creaking floorboards it can not only wake the family as I jokingly mentioned above it can just be annoying. Well thankfully it isn’t too much of a problem to fix them for any handyman or DIY enthusiast.
Floorboards not on a joist

What causes squeaky floorboards

Squeaky floorboards are caused mainly by badly fitting boards. If the boards are taken up to run electrical cables or pipework and are not put back properly, or the boards nailed back using the old nails in the old nail holes which means the nails don’t have a tight fit on the board and allow for them to move and squeak. Sometimes the end of the boards are not sitting on a joist and can move rubbing against the floorboards next to it.

Another reason for squeaky floorboards is simply that the boards have dried out and the nails are no longer holding the board down tight enough or the boards have moved and are rubbing together, whatever the reason you should be able to fix the problem.

How to fix squeaky floorboards

The first thing to do is to remove the floor covering, or part of it if you can’t fully clear the room. Once the floor covering has been removed you need to tread the boards, walk around and identify the squeaks and creaks and mark the boards where the noise is with a pencil. Do this over the entire floor.

Now go back and look at each mark you have made and identify what the problem is, for just boards that are rubbing together, you can either remove a board and plane a little off the edge, or try adding some talcum powder or chalk dust between the two rubbing boards to help movement between the two boards.

If the boards seem to be moving around the nails at the end of the boards, you need to screw these down. Don’t just put a screw in though as you may go through an electrical cable or a pipe, you may have to lift the board to see what is underneath first. Remove the nails and drill pilot holes next too the old nail holes so not to split the wood and then put a screw in making sure it pulls the board down tight.

If the board is split at the end, you may have to replace that board, or you may be able to lift it and turn it round so the other end is under the skirting board.

If the end of the board isn’t supported on a joist you will have to lift the board and put in a support. This can be done by lifting the unsupported board and fitting a length of 2×1 (50mm x 25mm) under the boards, ideally fixing it to a joist with screws. If a joist isn’t near, screw through the floorboards under either side of the unsupported one fixing the support to the underside of the boards, then re-fix the previously unsupported board and screw this board into the timber support you have fitted.

Do I need a new floor

Depending on how the floorboards have been lifted and cut will depend on if you need to replace boards or not, as mentioned above you may be able to lift a board and turn it around so the damaged end goes under the skirting, or even under furniture that doesn’t move. On the whole squeaky and creaking floorboards can be rectified.

Floorboards screwed down

How to lift floorboards

To lift floorboards you can use a club hammer and a wide bladed chisel such as a cold chisel or by using a crowbar. Prise the board up from one side then the other, be careful not to split the board, once you have the board slightly lifted up lay a piece of timber underneath to hold the end up and continue working along the board and moving the timber support as you go. If the floorboards are tongue and groove, you will need to cut the tongue off first in order not to damage the grove on the board next to it.

Safety First

Always remember to check under the floorboards for pipework and electrical cables before nailing or screwing down the floorboards, this will avoid driving a nail or screw through them. It is always a good idea to mark on the floorboards where the cables and pipes run under the floor, you can do this by using a pencil or better still a permanent marker pen. By marking the floor you will know where the cables and pipes run if you remove the floor covering or wish to run new pipework or cables in the future.

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Wallpapering around light switches and sockets

Posted by Adrian
April 10th, 2013

Flush fitted socket

How to wallpaper around light switches and sockets

If you are wallpapering an entire room or simply a feature wall, more than likely you are going to come across a light switch, a socket, a TV Ariel or satellite point or a telephone socket. These may seem difficult to wallpaper around, but they don’t have to be.

The first thing to remember always is safety first, turn of the power to light switches or sockets before undoing any screws, yes this is a pain because you have to re-set clocks etc. But it’s far better to do that than get an electric shock. Wallpaper by it’s very nature is wet, the paste makes the wallpaper wet, this conducts electricity very well, so be safe, turn off the power.

The first thing to do is identify which kind of fitting you have, if your sockets or switches have the socket or switch box on the wall they are surface mounted, if just the face plate is showing then the box is sunk into the wall, this is flush fitted. You tackle these two types slightly differently.

Surface switch

Wallpapering around surface mounted sockets and switches

Wallpaper down to the switch or socket, support the wallpaper with one hand and smooth the paper into the switch surface mounted box, cut along the top of the box, then carefully, pull the paper away from the wall slightly so you can smooth the paper to the edge of the box, trim this edge, now do the same with the other edge. Finally cut with scissors the remaining ‘square’ out of the sheet of wallpaper but leave enough to trim. Smooth down the paper and it should go around the switch box, finally trim the bottom edge.

Clean off any excess paste off of the wallpaper and switch, making sure not to get too much water on the switch, then allow to dry for a bit and turn the power back on.

Wallpapering around flush fitted sockets and switches

As you wallpaper down to the switch or socket, make a small hole in the wallpaper, about the centre of the switch, now from the centre hole you have just made, cut from the middle toward the corner of the switch, so diagonally. Now smooth the wallpaper down onto the wall and trim the ‘triangle’ sections off but leaving enough to tuck behind the switch. Do this to all the ‘triangle’ sections. Now loosen, but don’t remove the face plate, and tuck the wallpaper behind the switch. Smooth out and air bubbles toward the switch. Finally screw the face plate down again, making sure not to over tighten and crack it.

Clean off any excess paste on the wallpaper and switch making sure not to get too much water on the switch, leave the power off long enough allowing for the wallpaper to dry out enough and any paste to dry.

switch with paper cut around
Paper flaps cut around switch
Finished paper around switch

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