by April Reinhardt
(last updated February 8, 2021)
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:
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.
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