Why Does My Hardwood Floor Shake When I Walk? (Solved)

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Walking on bouncy or shaky hardwood floors is certainly not a pleasurable moment. Not only can it concern you regarding the health of the floors, but it can also be risky for your safety as there is a possibility that they might collapse.

Although homeowners are worried about when or if this problem occurs, they usually don’t have the answer to why the floors shake when they walk on them.

Reasons for a shaking hardwood floor include weak joists, damaged subflooring, and poor installation. Suboptimal fastening with nails instead of screws and adhesive can lead to instability and vibrations when pressure is applied.

Hardwood Floor Shakes When I Walk

Why Does My Hardwood Floor Shake When I Walk?

A loose subfloor can cause your floors to shake when you walk on them. You may experience extensive shakiness in your floors when you cover them or if any machinery is running on top of them, such as a washing machine or a massage chair.

While many people think of it as something very minor and ignore it, it can prove very dangerous, and the consequences would surely not be what you desire. I have written a whole article on if bouncy floors are dangerous and solutions to fix them.

Many homeowners adjust to this shakiness and consider this an act of time that the floors have become squeaky and think there is no way to fix this.

However, reality begs to differ, as identifying the root cause can allow you to fix this problem without spending thousands of dollars on hiring services to fix the floors or having to replace them due to collapsing.

Many people consider changing the floors or taking services from professionals as the only ways you can hope to fix these issues, but if you are keen enough, you can do it yourself.

Also Read: How Do You Perk Up Old Hardwood Floors: Definitive Guide

Other Reasons For Floors To Shake

We previously discussed that loose subflooring causes the floor to shake, and this loosening mostly results from using nails instead of screws. However, there are other reasons as well that might cause the loosening of your subfloors.

Besides, other structural damages apart from loose subfloors can also cause shakiness when you walk on your hardwood floors.

reasons why hardwood floors shake when you walk

Water Damage To Subfloor

Many wooden floors, which are made out of plywood or similar materials, are held together by adhesives on the subfloor level.

Adhesive solutions are prone to dissolve over time, and if your flooring is laid on mud or soil rather than concrete or bricks, you might face this issue after some time.

The soil moisture can slowly increase the water content in the adhesive solution and cause them to lose its strength and stickiness. This marks the structure loose and can cause it to shake when you walk over it.

Moreover, excess water can also cause various other damages to your hardwood floor structures, such as wood warping, weakened floor joists, and reduced load-bearing capacities.

All of this can damage your hardwood floors and cause them to become bouncy. An easy way to identify this issue is to look for water stains on your hardwood floors or any area which has turned cloudy or hazy.

This might indicate where the moisture is trapped and weakening your subfloors so you can counter it and solve the problem.

It is better to perform an inspection on the baseboards and lower portions of the walls to ensure you have thoroughly checked all areas.

Besides, if you smell a musty odor on your hardwood floors, it also indicates trapped moisture. If your subfloor is damaged by water, you can also see some dark discolorations on the surface.

See Also: How To Make Hardwood Floors Shine Like They Are Wet?

Damage By Rain/Snow During Construction

It is crucial to keep all your construction material protected from humidity and water.

As we’ve discussed this many times before, water can ruin your wooden material and cause it to lose its shape and strength, which can, in turn, lead to many problems, such as shaky floors.

If your construction material, such as; joist structures, hardwood boards, subflooring, etc., were moistened or got wet during construction, there is a high chance that you might face weekend floors/subfloors in only a matter of time.

This problem often arises in homes built during the monsoon season. Houses with leakages in the roof or poor insulation and wrapping can cause your subfloors or joists structures to get a high moisture content, leading to such problems in the future.

Hence, it is best to start the project in another season or ensure proper coverage over the area where you install your hardwood floors.

Do check out these 20+ signs of bad hardwood floor installation.

Trusses or Joists That are Cracked

Floor trusses and joists are the basic structures on which the hardwood floors lie. But often, they can be damaged, cracked, or broken due to various reasons that compromise the structure’s strength and stability.

When the base of the floor is broken or damaged, there is no way you can expect stability of the platform.

As a result, the floor becomes bouncy and spongy, causing vibrations whenever you move or step on it. The extent to which this happens depends on how much damage has the subflooring structure sustained.

You can expect the damage to be more extensive in an arrangement of subflooring structures where multiple framing members lie adjacent.

Many factors can lead to these damages, such as placing extensive weight on the floorings, putting too much weight or heavy tiles in the center, earthquakes, etc.

Termite Infestations

Another apparent reason for sagging hardwood floors, however, is an infestation. Termites can feed off your joists or truss structures and cause them to become shallow and weak.

Termites not only feed on wood, but they also make it shallow, resulting in a loss of durability and strength. Here’s how to fix termite-damaged hardwood floors.

Besides, it is not possible to identify any signs of termite attacks as they usually attack from underneath the floors.

Therefore, by the time you’ve figured out the reason for the damage, irreversible damage would have been done to the floors.

The only solution to this is to get protection against infestations through wood treatment at the time of installation.

However, once the damage has started, you will slowly feel the hardwood floors lose their strength and start to vibrate.

At this point, your main concern is to prevent the floor from collapsing, as it requires some hefty repairs.

Don’t Miss: How Long Does Polyurethane Last On Hardwood Floors?

A Lack of Cross-Bracing or Blocking in Critical Areas

Another plausible reason for shaky floors is if the trusses and joists are too far away and there is less blocking and cross-bracing between them.

Once you increase these two factors you shall experience an added strength to the platform which can lead to solving the problem of shaky floors.

The reason is that the load is shifted to the adjacent beam or truss rather than getting soaked up by the floorboards which may bend on impact.

Moreover, this will increase the strength of the structure and make it more stable and sturdy, so it doesn’t give out any vibrations once you step on it.

How To Fix Hardwood Floor Vibrations?

If you are worried about the condition of your hardwood floors as you don’t know what to do, we’ve got you covered.

Although you are recommended to contact a professional service for this purpose, you can also pull this job if you are keen and enthusiastic enough. Here is a guide on how you can fix your hardwood floors:

Step 1: Gather Supplies

The first thing you need to do in any DIY project is to gather all the supplies that you would need. It isn’t advised to scavenge for tools and equipment when you are in the middle of a task.

Hence, it is recommended to get all the things you need beforehand.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Different tools are required for various solutions. Remember that these solutions or repair methods are only suitable for subfloor issues usually caused by extra spacing or weakened joists.

If your hardwood floor does not have these issues and is still shaky, there is probably some structural issue, and it is best to consult a professional in this scenario.

Moreover, these repair methods might be less effective if your subfloor is filled with infestations, or the joist and truss structure is worn out.

Hence, it would be best if you did your due diligence before attempting anything.

It is not recommended to go shopping for tools at the last minute or in between the project; hence, below is a list of all the tools you might need; choose your repairing method and then get the required supplies accordingly:

Here are all the items that you might need during these procedures:

  • Framing lumber is 2 by 6 inches
  • Construction adhesive
  • Crayons for marking
  • Dust mask
  • Cutting saws or reciprocating saws for drywall
  • Handsaw or circular saw
  • Connectors for framing, 2-by-3 inches, 90 degrees
  • Joist hanger nails of 1 1/4 inches
  • A hammer
  • Measurement tape
  • A stud finder
  • Hammer
  • Safety glasses
  • Stepladder
  • 1-1/2-in. drywall screws
  • 1-3/8-in. joist hanger nails
  • 16d nails
  • 2×12
  • 2×4
  • 2×6
  • 3/4-in. plywood
  • 60 grit sandpaper
  • Construction adhesive
  • Metal bridging

Step 2: Find The Root Cause

Before starting any repair process, it is best to identify the affected area first so you don’t end up stripping apart your entire floor just in search of the right place to fix it.

Although we have mentioned some indicators above, a rather simpler method would be to walk on the floor and mark all the areas where you feel a vibration or shaking underneath you.

Marking the shaking areas is beneficial as you can easily identify which part of your hardwood floors needs further assessment.

This shortlists possibly affected areas and enables you to save a lot of time and effort.

Step 2: Find The Root Cause

If the damage is minimal, you might not feel any significant vibration underneath your feet; a suitable alternative could be running or hopping on the floor, as additional pressure may trigger the weak areas and force them to respond.

However, ensure you don’t hop on it too hard as it can even break the floor panels.

Furthermore, you can also place a half-filled glass of water on the surface while running or jumping to see which part of the floor the glass shakes the most. This can allow you to identify damaged areas easily.

Step 3: Follow All Safety Precautions

Repairing your hardwood floors might sound like a fun task, but it can turn out to be dangerous if not handled carefully or if the safety precautions are ignored.

Step 3: Follow All Safety Precautions

It is important to wear the following before you can start to attempt any repairs on your hardwood floors:

  • Safety Glasses
  • Dust Mask
  • Protective Gloves

Wearing these can protect you from possible dangers such as slivers, sawdust, respiratory issues, and irritation in the eyes.

Step 4: Measurements & Cut The Blocks Accordingly

A simple fault to look for is to check the spacing between joists. The value must be 16 inches to cut 12-inch wide sections between them.

Moreover, before attempting to place blocks between exposed floor joists, make sure you mark them with numbers.

Step 4: Measurements & Cut The Blocks Accordingly

The blocks can take up much of the load and decrease tensions from the joist’s structure, allowing it to remain healthy and durable.

If your hardwood flooring is installed over a large area, you would need a greater number of blocks. The blocks must be cut out of 2-by-6 framing lumber; you can use a circular saw or a handsaw.

Step 5: Attach the Framing Connectors

The blocks must be placed horizontally 6-inch-wide side lying flat on the ground. This is for optimum stability at the bottom of the subflooring.

Afterward, you must install framing connectors to the structure to hold it together.

Usually, their measurement is 2-by-3 inches, but it might vary depending on the size of your project. Moreover, you must ensure that the outside corners of these connectors are aligned with the ends of the blocks.

Step 5: Attach the Framing Connectors

Now we can move towards attaching these to the joists. All you need to do is take one of the 4-inch sides and extend it upwards from the face of the block.

Then, drive a 1/4-inch joist-hanger nail using a hammer into each hole you’ve already drilled. Make sure to drill the holes on opposite sides of the block faces and connectors.

Step 6: Glue The Blocks Together

It is advised to take your time with the process; hence, you must do it all step by step. For smoother installation, try to avoid hoarding the blocks all at once.

But install them separately in between the joists so if you’re making any mistake, you’ll get to realize it sooner rather than having to undo the process at once.

Many people need to start using regular wood glue for this purpose which is extremely wrong.

You must get construction adhesive from your local hardware store and use a generous amount to fix the structure together.

Step 6: Glue The Blocks Together

As the blocks will be placed on the underside of the subfloor, you must apply adhesive on both the under edge of the subfloor and the top edge of the blocks for maximum strength.

However, make sure you apply the adhesive along the 2-inch-wide edges.

Once you are done with that, use a hammer to move the lower edge of the block upward. This is done to eliminate any space in the blocks and subfloors and to prevent an air pocket from forming.

Moreover, it will also tighten the two surfaces together and give more strength and stability.

Then it would be best if you fixed the blocks in place with the joint holes in the floor joists, and you can do that using hanger nails hammered at a 90-degree from the deck block edge to the joint holes in the floor joists.

Step 7: Add Bridgings To The Joist Structure

Bridging, also known as “X-bracing,” is similar to the one mentioned above. The only difference is that blocks are small pieces added between joists to distribute the load, whereas bridges are more like beams placed between and along joists to transfer the weight to the joists equally.

Moreover, the bridges bear a lot of loads, increasing the strength of the overall structure and providing added stability.

The methodology is quite simple, as you step on one joist, the one below your foot takes little load as the nearby bridge equally transfers the weight to all the joists in the vicinity. As a footstep falls on one joist, some force is transferred to neighboring joists.

Step 7: Add Bridgings To The Joist Structure

Many homeowners need to pay more heed to this method if their floors already have a bridge in the center.

However, adding bridges on the sides can increase the strength and resilience of your hardwood floors and prevent them from shaking when you walk on them.

Bridges to your joist structure is a sensible idea and easy to execute. Unlike usual other methods, it does not stiffen the hardwood floors and maintains the comfort level you once sought.

You can make the beams for bridging yourself, or you can buy metal bridgings which are ready-made and available in the market.

However, as it is very easy and inexpensive, it is preferred that you give it a try first before turning to other methods if your identified problem is any of the following; lack of strength in joist structure due to spacing weakened joists but an inability to replace them, low number of joists and trusses compared to the size of flooring.

First, you need to check the bridging that the floor already has. If the floor already features the amount of bridging required, then the issue is somewhere else, and you must not add any more as it might make the floor stiff and prone to cracking.

Look for loosened nails or screws and try tightening or replacing them for better results. However, if you find extra spacing between the joists and beams, you must install bridgings in the structure.

To add a bridging, you must add one row at a time at both of the ⅓ span points. For instance, If your joists span a length of 12 ft., you would need to add bridgings of 4 ft. and 8 ft., distancing from the foundation wall.

Moreover, check if there is any bridging at the center of the floor; if not, add some rows there.

Step 8: Add A Layer Of Plywood

Plywood is one of the most common materials for subflooring as it is strong and resistant to wear and tear factors.

If your joists are not fixed tightly with the subflooring surface, you might experience a lot of squeaking and shaking when you walk on your hardwood floors.

Adding a plywood layer is a relatively easy job which can alleviate the uneasiness caused by your shaky floors. When the joists are loose, they often give a squeaky sound when a load is placed upon them.

Step 8: Add A Layer Of Plywood

Moreover, as pressure is applied to a joist, its lower edges might bend. This can be slightly bent to any side, but it matters significantly over time.

However, if you add a ¾ layer of plywood, this problem can be solved as it provides an extra layer to counter the additional weight and ensures that the joists and subflooring are fastened, so no bending takes place.

However, if you want this technique to work, you must ensure that the joist’s structure is tightly fastened to the subfloor’s surface.

All you need to do is place the plywood layer on top of the joist’s structure and drive 1-1/2-in. Drywall screws downwards, adjoining both materials together. However, please see that the screws should not be spaced more than 4 inches.

Another common place where you will find weekend subfloors is in houses which are more than 30 years old.

Commonly, plywood was not used then, and the joist structure sat on soil and mud rather than concrete. These structures are usually worn out due to a lack of maintenance as well as factors of nature and time.

Besides, the subfloor is made of individual boards which is also a reason for their deterioration.

However, you can get good results with such subflooring, too, if you place a layer of plywood on it, provided that the individual boards are not too gapped, as this would only help a little with the squeaking.

It is crucial to maintain a strict bond between the joists and the subflooring surface; hence you must use loads of construction adhesive as well as many screws and nails.

Firstly, you need to sand down the joists two to three times with 60-80 grit sandpaper. Then, you must attach the plywood layer with the joists using the adhesive.

Ensure that the plywood is parallel to the joists and not perpendicular. Moreover, the sheets are recommended to be at least 8 feet long, which need to be centered on the span to expose the joists.

There are various types of plywood available made by different manufacturers. The most recommended types are CDX plywood or BC plywood, which feature one rough and one smooth side.

In addition, please make sure that you are using a subfloor-friendly adhesive for the best results.

What Causes A Bouncy Floor?

Bouncy floors are usually caused by loose joist structures or when the joists and subfloors must be attached and fixed together properly.

This can cause the joists and hardwood floors to bend upon impact, making them bouncy and causing squeaky noises.

How Do I Stop My Floor From Shaking?

The easiest way to stop hardwood floors from shaking is to fix the subfloor and joist structure and ensure that they are fastened together properly and that there is no space between them.

How Do I Stop My Floor From Shaking?

You can do this using a number of techniques such as adding blocks between beams and joists, adding a layer of plywood to the subfloor for extra strength and durability, adding bridgings to the joist structure to distribute the weight evenly, and increasing the overall load-bearing capacity.

Is It Normal For A Floor To Bounce?

If your hardwood floors are 20-30 years old and have not been maintained long, they bounce normally. However, this does not mean that it is acceptable.

Over the years, the old individual board subflooring combined with the deterioration factor combined and weakened the subflooring and the joists structure, causing the hardwood floors to bounce.

However, this can be fixed by tightening the surfaces and ensuring they are fixed so they can’t move. Another reasonable measure is to add a layer of plywood to the subflooring for added strength.

However, it is neither normal nor acceptable if your hardwood floors are relatively new and have already become bouncy. It would be best to find the root cause immediately to address the problem.

The solutions mentioned above will probably work, so try them before you decide to spend hefty sums on your hardwood floors by hiring professional services.

Why Ground Vibration Can Cause Damage To Property?

Ground vibrations or even second floor vibrations can damage property as they move through the ground and affect the foundation, walls, floor, and roof.

Signs of damage usually show on the inside of walls first, as these walls resist the sideways movement caused by vibrations.

Bottom Line

Hardwood floors can shake when you walk on them if the joists and subfloor structure has developed a gap in between them. However, it is fairly easy to fix this problem with the solutions mentioned above.

If your hardwood floors are also shaky and squeaky, try these methods and you will see that the problem has been solved.

However, if your situation does not match the ones listed above, or if the solutions do not provide any considerable benefit, it is best to contact a professional.

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