Creaky floor no more

Something — the solar eclipse, the ratio of pollen grains to mold spores in the air, our sense of mortality — has prompted us to undertake a long-overdue home improvement project: organizing our closet. I’m not talking about merely clearing things out and reordering them; I’m talking about a full-scale restructuring of the closet space and the purchase of specialized closet hardware and furniture. SERIOUS closet organization.

We did this sort of thing BC (before children) when we lived in a much smaller home with average sized reach-in closets. The results were so harmonious and efficient that we have never been happy with the closet in our current home, even though it is a walk-in closet larger than any bathroom we’ve ever lived with. A single shelf of plastic-coated wire lined the closet at eye level; its hanging rail provided more than enough room for all our hanging clothes but left most of the space unused and unusable.

A couple months ago we pulled out the cardboard boxes we had piled on the closet floor, took up the carpet, and laid a nice wood laminate floor. The other night we emptied the wire shelf and removed it, discovering in the process a pronounced creak in the floor that sounded ten time worse with all the sound-absorbing carpet and clothing removed from the space.

Deciding that should be easy to fix, we took up a couple rows of laminate and put in some screws to secure the subflooring more firmly to the floor joists. The creak remained. We used a handy little high-tech gadget to make sure of the location of the joists and put in more screws. The creak remained. We were perplexed.

After taking a break for dinner, we returned to the scene of the problem. Should we just put the floor back and get on with the project? We didn’t want to succumb to “while we’re at it” syndrome (a la The Money Pit) but we couldn’t quite let it go, so we stood in the closet for a while testing various parts of the floor with our weight and hoping for enlightenment.

We noticed that the subflooring, which was now VERY firmly attached to the floor joists, flexedframe-anatomy slightly near the wall by the door and that the sound seemed to come from that same wall. The wall didn’t move, though — thank goodness! — which suggested that the floor had pulled away from the sole plate of the wall. Rather than pull off the baseboard for visual confirmation of this theory, we recklessly cut a hole in the wall and put a screw into the sole plate directly above the floor joist. Frustration was obviously beginning to affect our judgment, but the home improvement gods took pity on us: the creak was no more.

Now we just have to recapture the energy and enthusiasm that started us out on this project so we can finish it before my mother comes to visit next week. (The guest room is serving as an interim closet.)

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