Squeak-Free Subfloor Installation
Use the right adhesives, fasteners, and techniques to ensure that finished floors are quiet and solid.
A top-quality flooring job starts with a solid subfloor installation.
Here’s how to do it:
Plan your layout: Stagger rows by alternating the first panel of each row by a full or half sheet, and use tongue-and-groove sheathing for full edge-to-edge support. Before installing, inspect panels, particularly at tongues and grooves which are susceptible to damage.
Install the panels: To start, apply a polyurethane subfloor glue or gun-applied foam adhesive to the joists. Polyurethane foam has a 20-minute open time, but it’s a best practice to only apply enough for one or two panels at a time to avoid skin-over. On joists where panel ends meet, apply double beads and leave a 1/8-in. gap between panel ends when installing.
Install panels with the groove exposed, and use a beater block and framing hammer to protect edges when driving tongues into grooves.
Fasten panels correctly: To fasten, use screws that penetrate joists by at least 1 in. and drive them just below the surface. Overdriven screws will compromise fastening strength. Under-driven screws will interfere with the flooring above. Fasten a maximum of 6 in. on center along panel ends and a maximum of 12 in. on center in the field, with all fasteners kept 3/8 in. from panel edges.
Finally, always work from one end of the panel to the other to prevent buckling when fastening.
More about subfloors and flooring:
- Building Skills: Install a Subfloor
- Fix squeaky subfloor with extra blocking?
- 11 Wood-Flooring Problems and Their Solutions