How to Fix Squeaky Floors Under Linoleum
No matter how cute your retro-chic linoleum floor is, you won't be happy with it if it lets out a shriek of protest every time your foot hits that one spot. "Linoleum," though often used as a synonym for vinyl, is a natural, product made from linseed oil and is sold in a rainbow of colors as tiles or sheets. Glued to the subfloor, you can't easily lift it to squelch that squeak, and you should avoid puncturing its surface. To address a squeaky floor -- caused by wood rubbing together -- you need to access the problem floor joists or subfloor from below.
Set up a ladder in the basement below the floor where you have the linoleum installed.
Pinpoint the source of the squeak by having another person step on the spot to make it squeak. You should see a slight gap between the subfloor and the top of the floor joist.
Apply wood glue to the face of a thin wood shim. Slide the shim into the gap, breaking it off for size if necessary. Slide another shim in from the other side of the joist if it is difficult to push the first shim through -- don't force it. Have your helper step on the floor again. Add another or a thicker shim if the squeak is still present.
Squeeze construction adhesive into a gap that is too narrow or too long for a shim. Apply the adhesive on both sides of the joist. Work the glue into the gap with a plastic knife. Allow the adhesive to dry. The adhesive fills the gap while preventing the two wood surfaces from rubbing against each other.
Measure the distance between the two joists that surround a squeaky spot caused by the ends of two pieces of subfloor rubbing together. When a seam falls at a point perpendicular to joists and is not well supported from beneath, the boards can move, causing a squeak. Cut a length of 2-by-8 lumber to fit tightly in the space between the joists. Apply construction adhesive along three edges -- the top and both ends -- and push the lumber between the joists and up against the bottom of the subfloor so it spans the seam between the two pieces. Let it dry.
- If you don't have open access to the underside of the floor from below, it is often easier to open up, then repair a small hole in the drywall of a finished ceiling than it is to cleanly repair screw or nail holes in linoleum caused by repairing a squeak from above.
Patricia Hamilton Reed has written professionally since 1987. Reed was editor of the "Grand Ledge Independent" weekly newspaper and a Capitol Hill reporter for the national newsletter "Corporate & Foundation Grants Alert." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University, is an avid gardener and volunteers at her local botanical garden.
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