Fixing Squeaky Stairs

by April Reinhardt
(last updated June 18, 2014)

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. ...

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