Ways to Fix Your Flooring

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Home improvement

To silence squeaks, insert wedges between the subflooring and the joists from below the floor.
Image courtesy © Publications International, Ltd.

Despite being walked on every day, floors and stairs endure a lot of wear and tear. Over time, they may develop squeaks, minor damages to resilient tile and sheet flooring, carpet burns or they may just wear out and require refinishing or replacement. Fortunately, repairing these problems is much easier than you might think. This article provides solutions for fixing common flooring problems.

Let’s start by addressing squeaky floors. Although not a structural problem, squeaky floors can be irritating. If you have hardwood floors, you can try to stop the squeak by sprinkling talcum powder over the boards and sweeping it back and forth to force it into the cracks.

If there is a basement or crawl space under the floor, locate the problem from underneath. You’ll need someone to walk on the squeaky spot while you work. Watch the subfloor under the noisy floorboards while your helper steps on the floor above. If the subfloor moves visibly or if you can pinpoint the noise, outline the affected areas with chalk. At the joists closest to your outlines, look for gaps between the joist and the subfloor; wherever there’s a gap, the floorboards can move. To stop squeaks here, install shingles or wood shims into the gaps to reduce movement.

If there are no gaps along the joists, or if the squeaks are coming from an area between joists, there’s probably a gap between the floorboards and the subfloor. To pull the two layers together, install wood screws up through the subflooring in the squeaky areas. Make sure you drill pilot holes before inserting the screws so you don’t crack the wood. The wood screws must be long enough to penetrate into the floor above you but not so long that they go all the way through the boards and stick up through your floor.

Squeaks between subflooring and flooring can often be eliminated using wood screws to pull layers together.
Image courtesy © Publications International, Ltd.

If you can’t access the floor from below, use spiral flooring nails to eliminate the squeak. First, locate the squeak and determine whether it’s at a joist or between joists. To eliminate the squeak, drive two spiral flooring nails, angled toward each other in a V-shape, through the floorboards and the subfloor. If the squeak is at a joist, use longer spiral flooring nails, driving them through the floorboards and the subfloor and into the joist. Drill pilot holes first to prevent the boards from splitting.

If you’re unable to reach the underside of the floor, insert the flooring nails at an angle from above into a joist and then use wood putty to fill the nail holes. Courtesy of © Publications International, Ltd, the image showcases this process.

If the floor is covered with tiles or carpet and you can’t access the floorboards from above or below, it’s unlikely to eliminate the squeak without removing the floor covering. Before attempting that, try resetting the loose floorboards by pounding. Use a hammer and a scrap wood block as a buffer to pound the floor firmly over the squeaky floorboards in an area of about 2 or 3 square feet. The pressure from the pounding may push loose nails back in place. In the next section, we’ll delve into repairing damaged tile floors.


1. What are some common types of floor damage that can be repaired?

There are several types of damage that can occur to floors, including scratches, dents, stains, and water damage. Scratches and dents can often be repaired with wood filler or a sanding and refinishing process. Stains can be treated with a variety of solutions depending on the type of stain and flooring material. Water damage may require replacement of the affected flooring if it has caused significant warping or buckling.

2. What tools and materials will I need to repair my floors?

The tools and materials needed will depend on the type of damage and flooring material. Some common tools include sandpaper, wood filler, putty knife, hammer, and nails. Materials may include stain remover, paint or finish, replacement planks or tiles, and adhesives.

3. How do I repair a scratched or damaged hardwood floor?

To repair a scratched or damaged hardwood floor, first clean the area thoroughly. Then, use wood filler to fill in any scratches or dents. Sand the area smooth and refinish or paint as needed to match the surrounding flooring. For deeper damage, replacement planks may be necessary.

4. How do I repair a stained carpet?

To repair a stained carpet, first determine the type of stain and choose a suitable stain remover. Apply the stain remover according to instructions and blot the area with a clean cloth. Repeat as needed until the stain is removed. If the carpet is still discolored, a carpet patch or replacement may be necessary.

5. How do I repair a cracked tile?

To repair a cracked tile, remove the broken tile and clean the area. Apply adhesive to the back of the replacement tile and carefully place it in the empty space. Allow the adhesive to dry completely and then grout the area as needed.

6. Can I repair water damage to my laminate flooring?

Minor water damage to laminate flooring can often be repaired by replacing the affected planks. However, if the damage is extensive or has caused warping or buckling, replacement of the entire floor may be necessary.

7. How do I repair a squeaky floor?

To repair a squeaky floor, locate the squeak and determine the cause. Common causes may include loose floorboards, nails or screws that have come loose, or gaps between the subfloor and framing. Depending on the cause, solutions may include tightening loose screws or boards, adding shims, or installing additional screws or nails.

8. Can I repair a damaged vinyl floor?

Minor damage to vinyl floors can often be repaired with a vinyl repair kit, which includes adhesive and color-matching compounds. However, if the damage is extensive or has caused warping or buckling, replacement of the entire floor may be necessary.

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