Fixing Squeaky Stairs

by April Reinhardt
(last updated July 2, 2018)

Most of us have experienced the annoyance of a squeaky stair at some point in our lives. Perhaps it was when you were a teenager trying to sneak up the stairs past your curfew, and the stair squeak gave you away. Or maybe it was the time you had just gotten the baby to sleep and, while trying to slip quietly downstairs, the squeaky stair awoke the baby again. No matter the circumstance, a squeaky stair can be infuriating. The obvious remedy to getting rid of the squeak is to fix the stairs. But before you can fix them, you'll probably need to understand a few terms:

  • Tread. This is the horizontal board on which you walk, commonly referred to as the step.
  • Riser. The riser is the vertical board that links the treads. If you've ever walked upstairs and have hit the vertical board with your toe, then you've hit the riser. It acts as the support for the tread.
  • Stringer. Every staircase has to have a support for the steps, lying from one floor to the next, called stringers. Usually constructed of two-inch by twelve-inch lumber, most staircases have three stringers; one center stringer, and two outside stringers. Stringers either have grooves cut into their faces to hold the ends of the steps or, more commonly, are cut in a saw-tooth pattern to hold the steps.

The first thing to do when trying to fix a squeaky stair is to identify where the squeak is. The best way to do that is to have someone walk up the stairs at a normal pace. Have the person stop as soon as you hear the squeak, and then mark the spot with masking tape. In most instances, the culprit for a squeaky step is either a loose step or balustrade. Try to work from underneath your staircase. That way, you won't have to hide any repairs, remove carpeting, or ruin the wood finish. When you find a loose step, insert a shim of wood or cardboard between the treads and risers. First, apply wood glue to the shim and then tap it into the gap until it's snug.

If you find that you must work from the top side of the stairs to repair a squeaky step, you can drill pilot holes and drive screws into the risers. Fill the holes with glue-laden shims or wood plugs.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

MORE FROM APRIL

Trimming Shrubs

The best time to trim your shrubs is late spring or early summer. Trimming later in the season puts the new growth of ...

Discover More

Checking for and Eliminating Drafts

An easy way to check to see where a draft is coming from is to stand with a lighted candle next to a window or door. The ...

Discover More

Cabernet Sauvignon

The grape known as Cabernet Sauvignon is grown all over the world, and is the best known of the red wine grapes. The word ...

Discover More

MAX Power! A powerful lithium-ion drill/driver that delivers 0-to-650 RPM and 115 inches-per-pound of torque in a lightweight, easy-to-use package. An anti-slip soft grip and LED worklight makes this tool a delight to use. Check out Black & Decker 20-Volt Cordless Drill/Driver today!

More Home Improvement Tips

Planning a Patio

Patio's are often among the most used portions of any home during the warmer months. Whether you currently have a patio ...

Discover More

Installing Wallboard

Learning how to install wallboard can be a huge advantage when remodeling or renovating your home. Installing wallboard, ...

Discover More

Adding Wainscoting

Have you ever seen a wall that has a beautiful wood finish along the bottom half? If you have, then you have seen ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured home improvement tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one minus 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured home improvement tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)