How to Fix a Squeaky Stair

Staircases are a great indicator of the build quality of a house. The grander the house, the more detailed the staircase. The reason? Once inside, the staircase is one of the first features you see, so it is important to make a good impression.

Noisy stair treads are caused either by the wood rubbing tightly together or by simple wear and tear. Sometimes, simply puffing a lubricant such as talcum powder into a squeaking joint will cure the problem, but if it doesn’t, you’ll have to try something a bit more technical.

Treads (the horizontal parts) and risers (the vertical bits) are usually reinforced by triangular blocks, which are screwed in place. If any screws have worked loose, just tightening them may solve the problem. If this doesn’t work, insert thicker screws of the same length, or remove the block and refix it with wood glue and the thicker screws. If there are no blocks, cut some from 50mm (2in) square timber, and glue and screw them into place.

In some staircases, tapered wedges fixed both vertically and horizontally hold the treads and risers together. If they are loose or worn, remove them and clean away the old adhesive. Apply new adhesive, then hammer the wedges back into place – the vertical one first, then the horizontal one. If necessary, cut replacements to match the old ones.

If the joint between a tread and riser is loose, you can screw up through the tread and centrally into the riser (or through the riser into the tread, depending on your staircase) to force them together by screwing. Use No 8 screws that are long enough to sink about 12mm (Min) into the second piece. The joints between treads and risers can also be reinforced by squeezing glue into them prior to screwing.

If you can’t get underneath the stairs (or if the underside of the stairs is covered with plaster), remove the stair carpet and drive screws down through each tread into the riser underneath, again squeezing some wood glue into the gap ‘ first. Or secure the back of a tread to a riser using L-shaped steel brackets recessed into the wood, so that both brackets and screw heads are below the surface.

If the front of a tread is loose, drill two or three holes through the front of the tread and centrally into the riser below. Use No 8 screws that are long enough to sink about 12mm (14in) into the riser.