How to Fix a Staircase Squeak

One of the most well-known and frequent problems associated with staircases are the annoying squeaks that they can cause. This is an often-found issue with older stairs, or indeed communal stairs that have seen a lot of use, with wear and tear creating these annoying squeaks. However even though these squeaks persist, very rarely do people know how to fix them.

Improper materials

Making sure that a staircase will have the correct materials in the first place is one of the best and most efficient ways to stop a staircase squeak from occurring. An overuse of MDF has been a consistent problem with staircase manufacture, a cheap material yes, but one with long term problems. One of these problems is that when both the riser and the tread and MDF, the two objects rub against one another as the stairs are walked upon, causing a squeak. MDF can also cause more problems with its moisture absorbance. This Moisture causes the MDF to swell and lose its shape, causing gaps where the riser meets the tread, creating a squeak.

How to solve the problem.
The only way to stop this problem at the source is to make sure that a better grade of materials is used in the first place, higher quality MDF can be used in places, as long as its not both the tread and the riser. At Edwards & Hampson, all of our standard stairs have pine treads with a thick plywood riser. Using a high-quality pine tread prevents the squeak at its source.

Poorly fixed Wedges

When a staircase is constructed using a housed string system, the standard method for staircase construction, each tread and rise is secured using a pair of wedges on each side. When a staircase is originally constructed these wedges will be fixed in place before the stairs are delivered. However, when a staircase has kite winders, the treads and risers are loose and they are fixed in place when the stairs are installed, when the stairs are not fitted correctly and the wedges are not properly fixed, these squeaks can persist. On older staircases, these wedges can slip over time, loosening the treads and also causing a squeak.

How to solve the problem.
After an inspection of the back of the staircase there are a couple of relatively easy solutions. If the wedges are in a decent condition they can be re-used. This is done by gently chiselling out the wedge so that it can be removed, then apply some glue to both the wedge as well as the housing, and re insert the wedge. Alternatively if the wedge is damaged, new wedges can be ordered on request.

Wearing to the riser housing.

Inside each tread, there is a groove that runs down the length, this groove houses the riser. Over time and after a lot of use the housing can be damaged causing increased movement in the riser, which in turn causes the squeak.

How to solve the problem.
1. Drilling/nailing through the tread into the riser, fixing the tread in place. This should only be done if the stairs are to be carpeted as it could cause aesthetic damage to the tread.
2. Adding glue blocks to the back of the stairs which are in turn nailed in place, these should be fitted as standard when the stairs are bought.
3. Adding a right angles moulding to the face of the stairs where it meets the riser can also help stop the movement of the riser and stopping the squeak. This method offers a more decorative fix, which can be good with hardwood stairs where nails or screws would tarnish the finish. This method is also useful when there is no access to the back of the stairs.