How to fix squeaky floorboards, block draughts and repair broken boards

Can't put up with that creaking floorboard any longer? It's time to give your timbers a little TLC

Original floorboards always look beautiful, but they can develop squeaks when their nails get loose. This means that the floorboard isn’t firmly attached any more, so the pieces of timber can move and rub together. This is an easy job to fix, and doesn’t need any specialist tools.

1. Assemble your tool kit

You will need:﷯

  • Pincers or claw hammer
  • Drill ﷯
  • Screws ﷯
  • Electronic 
pipe and cable detector

2. Find the squeaky floorboard

How-to-fix-squeaky-floorboards

Image credit: Trevor Richards

First, work out which board is loose (and causing the squeak) by walking on it to see if there’s an area that moves.

3. Fix the squeak

If the floorboard is in good condition, take out the nails (use pincers or a claw hammer) and screw the board back down using the existing nail holes. Screws will pull it down tighter and are easier to remove if you want to lift the boards again.

Still got a little squeak? Try sprinkling talcum powder along the joint line and work in using a knife.

4. How to repair or replace a floorboard

How-to-replace-a-floorboard

Image credit: Simon Scarboro

If the floorboard is damaged and it’s not possible to nail in the existing holes, pull out the nails with pincers or a claw hammer, then lift the board up and have 
a look underneath for cables and pipes. If you spot any, mark their position on the board in pencil so you won’t screw into them. You could also use an electronic pipe and cable detector to do this job.

Find a spot near the edge of the 
board that isn’t damaged (or above a cable or pipe) and drill a hole. Put a 
screw in the hole and secure it tightly, checking that it sits below the surface (countersink the hole so it doesn’t stick out). If you need to replace any damaged boards, look for replacement ones of a similar age. You could even take them from an area where the floorboards 
aren’t exposed for a close match.

5. How to fix draughty floorboards

How-to-fix-draughty-floorboards

Image credit: Jon Day

This will help cut down on potential draughts. For really wide gaps, consider re-laying all the boards in the room so they fit more tightly together, and then laying a new board to fill the space left. If the gaps aren’t too wide, you can fill the space with narrow strips of wood, fixed into the gaps with wood glue. Let them stand proud from the surface, and then sand them once the glue has set.

6. How to block draughts with papier mache

Papier mache also makes a good, inexpensive filler for small gaps between floorboards. This is a traditional technique – simply tear newspaper into strips, allow to soak in wallpaper paste, then push down into the gaps, smooth off with the flat surface of a knife and leave to dry.

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