A squeaky staircase admittedly has its pros and cons. Although the noise can be annoying, a wife wondering why her husband's diet isn't working will be alerted when he sneaks downstairs for a midnight snack. As well, kids with a curfew will have trouble breaking it if mom and dad are listening for the stairs' alert. However, more often than not, these squeaks are just an irritating reminder that your stairs are aging, and it is time to do some necessary maintenance on the steps.
Aside from the banisters, the main portion of the staircase - the steps - is broken down into three main sections. The tread is the part of the step that your feet actually touch, the risers are the part of the stair that your toes would touch if they hit the back of the stairs and the stringers are the structural supports that the tread and the risers are actually attached to.
Determine where the squeak on a particular step is coming from by simply putting pressure on the tread. If the squeak originates at the front of the tread, it may have simply come loose from the riser, which is easy to fix with a hammer and nail. Simply drill thin starter holes at 45-degree angles into the tread above the riser, then hammer a slightly thicker nail into the start hole while a helper stands on either side of the steps to make sure pressure holds the two pieces together.
Should the squeaking instead be coming from the back of the tread, then there is probably an issue with the connection to one of the stringers. Most staircases have three of these, two on the ends and one in the center for support. In most cases, a squeak will come from the stringer in the center of the step as this spot receives most of the pressure from traffic. Have your helper stand on the tread straddling the stringer in question and drill two 45-degree angle starter holes facing opposite directions into the tread at the source of the squeak. After that, hammer in your nails, then cover them with putty or carpeting so the simple repair job isn't visible.
Making sure that the nails go in on an angle, and opposing each other, is crucial, as nails that go straight into the tread are more likely to come loose. By using two opposing nails, you ensure that high traffic will take much longer to undo this relatively simple repair.
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