Do-it-yourself fix for squeaky floors

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Q: My partner and I have lived for four years in the upstairs flat of a two-story San Francisco Victorian built in 1912. We own the building.

I bought a heavy studio piano about 15 months ago that had to be wheeled down a 14-foot hallway to get to its new home. The professional movers brought it in on a short piano dolly. A few months after the piano arrived, the wood flooring in the hallway started to creak. It now creaks and squeaks a lot, and when I walk on it with bare feet, I can feel the ridges of some of the boards.

The flooring in the room the piano was moved into, where the path would have been mainly diagonal to the boards, squeaks a little but may have before. The floorboards are 2 inches wide.

Can you suggest ways the flooring can be repaired and stabilized before it gets any worse?

A: The squeaky floor can be silenced and the ridges can be flattened. You can and should do it yourself. It will take a bit of time and will cost hardly anything. But you will need to spend a good deal of time on your hands and knees.

You have a 2-inch-wide face-nailed strip oak floor. We bet that if you look closely, you can see pairs of dots on each strip. They are the filled nail holes. This type of hardwood floor was a standard in homes from the turn of the 20th century through the 1950s. One of the first homes we lived in was a 1,200-square-foot tract home in San Leandro, Calif. It had hardwood floors. We suppose the reason was that at the time it was cheaper than wall-to-wall carpet.

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Loose floorboards are causing the squeaks and the ridges. When the piano movers rolled the piano down the hall, they were moving parallel to the floorboards. As they rolled along, the concentrated load of the piano pressed on the individual boards, causing them to flex and loosening the nails.

As you walked up and down the hall over the next few months, the boards loosened more and the squeaking became worse. When the movers moved into the room where the piano resides, they were traveling diagonally across the floor and the load was more evenly distributed, loosening fewer boards. …CONTINUED