How should I make a creaky subfloor quiet?

How should I make a creaky subfloor quiet? Back in 1990, I had the second floor of our 60-year-old bungalow enlarged. The contractor used 1/2-inch chipboard for the new subfloor, fastened with nails only. This floor has always been noisy ever since. We’re pulling the carpet up now for new renovations and want to make things right. Will adding screws alone solve the problem or should I lift the floor completely and glue it back down before adding screws?


Creaking floors are infuriating and completely unnecessary these days. Screws alone might make things quiet for you, but to discover for sure, try installing some in a creaky area. Drive 1 3/4- or 2-inch deck screws into the floor every 6 inches along each joist then try to make the floor squeak. Certainly, there’s no question that construction adhesive and screws together do the best job, but removing the old subfloor is a lot of work. You won’t know if it’s necessary until you experiment.

If you do decide to go with both glue and screws, I have a couple of suggestions:

  • My favourite construction adhesive for this job is LePage’s PL Premium. It’s very strong, sticks even in damp conditions, and cures rock hard. This product comes in caulking tubes, and with all the tubes you’ll be squeezing out, you definitely need a power caulking gun.
  • I’ve used four different types over the years, and my current favourite is the Ryobi P310. It’s an 18-volt cordless model that uses the same batteries and chargers used by other Ryobi tools.
  • Also, be sure you screw each sheet of the subfloor down immediately after plopping it in place over fresh glue.
  • One of the keys to a quiet installation is a fully supported subfloor. You need to screw the wood down when the adhesive is fresh and still able to squish outwards under pressure, filling all the gaps underneath the wood.
  • If you have a lot of screws to drive (of course you do) consider renting a special tool for the job. Generically called a ‘Quik Drive’ screw gun after the brand that made it famous, this drill-type tool holds collated strips of screws at the end of a meter-long nosepiece. Every time you push the tip against the floor, it drives a new screw down flush with the wood. It saves time and your back.