Hello, I have an old house and the floors are a little bouncy and squeaky. Upon inspection, I noticed that the house doesn't even have plywood subfloors, but rather has 2x6 boards on top of the floors joists (which are 3 1/2 feet apart). Can you tell me how to make my floor stop being cricketty? I can feel the 2x6's bowing when I walk on them.
Eric ~ Portland, OR
Eric, it is common for older houses to have a sub-floor constructed of individual boards instead of plywood sheets. In many older homes, rough cut, 1-inch thick boards were often installed perpendicular (or at a 45 degree angle) to the underlying floor joists, and then the finished flooring would be attached on top of the boards. If your home's sub-floor is constructed of 2x6 boards, but you still have soft and squeaky floors, then it is probably because the underlying floor joists are spaced too far apart. In general floor joists should be no more than 24-inches on center, and a maximum of 16 inches on center is much more common in today's construction industry.
Although it may not be a simple fix, one way for you to solve your problem could be to install some additional joists to your home's floor framing. If your home's crawl space is accessible from the exterior, then you may be able to slide the long boards into the crawl space and then maneuver them into position from below. Depending on the size of your home's floor joists, you may also have to install a girder beam under them for additional support. If this extra beam is needed, then it should be installed perpendicular to the floor joists and be supported at both ends by the home's foundation or some new cement piers.
Hopefully some newly installed floor joists can stop your soft floors from feeling bouncy, but keep in mind that the squeaking problem may not be fully solved. Ideally, sub-floors should be attached to underlying floor joists with both construction adhesive and screws, but this is not always the case in older homes. Of course there are some other ways to fix a squeaky floor, but you should first see what improvements are noticeable after the new floor joists are installed. Good luck with your project!