Although a squeaky floor may be able to be ignored, it is important to investigate squeaks because they can mean that your floor needs repair in some way. Depending on what is causing the squeaking, your repair job may be a quick and affordable task, or it could require a bit of saving up.
I asked several contractors, wood flooring companies, and handymen around the Milwaukee area what their prices would be to fix squeaky floors. The cause, location, extensiveness, accessibility, and your location all factor into the cost of fixing squeak floors, and each one, and more, is detailed below.
In general, reattaching the floor to the subfloor or subfloor to joists costs $4.62 per sq. ft. When the subfloor or joists have to be repaired, it can cost $500-1,000 and $6,000-10,000, respectively. Refurbishing damaged boards costs about $13.85 per sq. ft. Replacing flooring can cost $20-30 per sq. ft.
Average Cost of Repairing Squeaky Floors
Businesses May Be Hesitant to Quote Without Visuals
It is important to keep in mind that businesses will often be wary of quoting the repair of your flooring without seeing it in person and assessing the damage.
Unfortunately, this is a result of today’s “but you said…” culture. Service providers are leery about giving figures in case the job turns out to be more extensive and the client gets upset with the resultant increase in the quote.
Despite this reluctance, I was able to get a few ballpark figures for you.
A fairly simple solution would include surface screwing/nailing through the flooring and into the subfloor and floor joist.
These nails/screws would, unfortunately, be visible and would have to be puttied, but this option should eliminate squeaking caused by the detachment of the subfloor from the floor or the subfloor from the floor joists.
This would cost, according to a Milwaukee-based contractor I contacted, about $600 for a 130 square foot room or about $4.62 per square foot.
Less Simple Solutions
Upon inspection, the detachment of your subfloor from either the flooring or the joists may not be the issue. There may instead be structural damage to your subflooring or joists, which is a much more complex process and therefore more expensive.
Subflooring repairs are often between $500 and $1,000.
Joist repairs often cost between $6,000 and $10,000 but may cost even more than this.
Remove Entire Floor and Reinstall
Instead of structural damage, the problem may be the flooring itself, whether it has been warped, installed incorrectly, or suffered other damages.
In this case, screws or nails through the subflooring and joists won’t fix the squeaking, but instead, the entire floor may need to be reinstalled. This complex fix would apply for a large area of wood affected, not necessarily a smaller area.
This can be done at a somewhat lower cost if the original flooring is removed, salvaged, and reinstalled.
Salvaging these floorboards is often difficult, but if the wood can be salvaged and then reinstalled, with mastic most often, the cost should run at about $1,800 for a 130 square foot room or about $13.85 per square foot.
If the squeaking is occurring because of the flooring itself, complete replacement might be the only option.
As mentioned above, salvaging wood when it is removed is quite hard. In most cases, it is necessary to replace the flooring altogether.
The cost of this depends on the type of wood as well as the finish, but the price is usually around $2,600 for a 130 square foot room, or $20 per square foot.
Another estimate of this cost from another company is about $3,900 for removing the hardwood and the subfloor (which would explain the added cost) as well as installing new flooring.
Factors Influencing Floor Repair Costs
What Causes the Squeaks
Assessment by a professional is very important in the process of creating an estimate or quote for a flooring repair project. This is because when you find the source of the squeak, you can find the problem, and the specific problem found will influence the cost of the fix.
If your floorboards have expanded and contracted over time due to ranging humidity levels, they may detach from the subfloor. In this situation, the nailing or screwing option above would be the appropriate one, which is the cheapest of the bunch.
It is also possible that no repair is needed in this situation. Rugs or carpeting can muffle squeaks if you would like to save money and can tolerate muffled squeaking from time to time.
Another cause of squeaking that influences the price is when your flooring is damaged from humidity or moisture but the flooring is relatively new. This would indicate poor-quality flooring. In this scenario, the complete replacement of the flooring might be necessary.
The cost of wood would depend on the type and availability, but it is likely that this will cost about $20 per square foot. Pressure-treated wood would be ideal for longevity.
How Extensive the Problem Is
Not only will the type of fix determine the cost of the project, but how widespread the problem is will also factor in.
The cost of a project is often given in “per square foot” prices.
If you are experiencing a subfloor gap in only one or two areas of your flooring, let’s say about a 10 square foot area, and the solution is to nail or screw into the subflooring to join it to the joist, the cost would be about $46.
If the entire room, let’s say it’s 130 square feet, needs to be nailed or screwed into the join the subflooring to the joist, the cost would be about $600.
The extensiveness of the problem may also determine the type of fix needed, which will affect the price.
A greater area, as well as a higher cost for removing old flooring and installing new flooring, will make your project much more expensive than if it was a localized and simple problem.
Accessibility and What Top Flooring You Have
Some flooring repairs cannot simply be done from above without removing the flooring. If there is structural damage to the subfloor or joists, it is often easier to make repairs from below the flooring.
For first-floor subflooring/joists, this means accessing them from the basement. For second-floor subflooring/joists, this means accessing them from the first floor.
This may or may not be possible in your home, especially for floors above the first floor. Accessing the second-floor subfloor or joists would mean going in through the ceiling. The ceiling would have to be cut into and any insulation or other obstacles removed.
This process would incur extra expenses.
A minimally invasive and less expensive process would be going through the first floor through an unfinished basement.
An unfinished basement most likely means that there isn’t a ceiling installed, but instead, beams, pipes, and wires. The ceiling wouldn’t have to be removed or replaced. These wires and pipes could still complicate the problem, though, and cause the price to rise.
If you opt for the less invasive option and access your subfloor and joists from the top instead of the bottom, you would prevent any ceilings from being altered but the flooring would have to come out. If the wood cannot be salvaged, then it must be replaced, which will cause the price of your project to rise.
What top flooring you have can also factor into the costs of your project since carpet and laminate being removed must also be replaced and this complicates the process.
Who You Hire (or DIY)
A contractor, flooring company, and a handyman can all have different prices for the same project. Even if you narrow down your choices to just flooring companies, for example, each different company will most likely have different prices.
This fact is why it is important to reach out to several different companies of varying types to see if you can get an estimate on what a flooring repair project will cost you. Some may be unwilling to estimate without an assessment, which will most likely lead to several assessments taking place.
This process can be draining, but it is important to remember that research can save you money and can give you a sense of the skill of the companies you will be hiring and working with.
If you were to do this process yourself, you’d be saving money on hiring a professional, but you will have to buy all the materials and tools needed. The process will also take longer than if a team of people was working on it. You would also have to be confident in your skills. Some flooring repair jobs are best left to the professionals, particularly if there is structural damage.
Where You Live
Depending on where you live, the cost of repairing your flooring may rise or fall.
For example, if you live in an area where logging is a large industry, wood flooring is most likely easy to come by and probably less expensive than other areas.
If you live in an area far from forests and the logging industry, wood flooring may be more difficult to find, purchase, and ship. This will most likely make the process of repairing wood floors more expensive.
Your location may also determine the preventative measures that need to be taken while fixing or installing your flooring.
For example, if you live in an area that often experiences rain, especially in high amounts, it is likely that your flooring will expand and contract, leading to squeaking.
To prevent this, local flooring companies are likely to buy better-sealed flooring. They might also attach the flooring to the subfloor and the subfloor to the joists in a more secure way than in an area where humidity and wetness are less of an issue.
This process is necessary but is likely to cost more money.
How Long Does It Take to Repair a Squeaky Floor?
More simple fixes, such as inserting a shim and nailing or screwing from the top of the flooring, are likely to be of intermediate difficulty and should take less than two hours.
If the fix is complicated by having to remove laminate, carpet, or flooring, the process may take even longer, but this also depends on how extensive the problem is.
In the situation of the squeaking being localized to one or two places, the project could still be done in under two hours.
If the squeaking occurs in a large area of the flooring, though, there is more to fix and the project is likely to take even longer, possibly spanning up to four hours.
If the flooring must be entirely removed and reinstalled, the process is likely to take between one and three days.