Why is it so noisy walking around in old houses?


Not all, but most old houses I’ve been in required me to practically tiptoe all the time because anything more would sound like I’m stomping, and rattle everything around. Does it have to do with the way houses used to be built?

Edit for clarification: I don’t mean creaking. I’m more referring to how walking even slightly heavily will make your steps sound loud and booming

In: 15

Yeah many builders used lumber that’s closer to a 2×6 than a 2×10 or a 2×12 to build their floor joists. Especially when you get to really old buildings. I recently did a repair in a building from 1920 where large parts of the floor mostly had 2x4s as joists, some of them doubled up. Modern buildings from the 80s onwards usually have at least 2×8, more commonly 2×10 or engineered pressboard. Also joist hangers help hold things together over time.

Basically the floor is made of wood nailed to wood. Wood dries out, expands in humidity, contracts as it dries, warps over time. Nails rust, bend or deform over time. The house itself could be shifted or misshapen, causing floorboards to be pushed against each other in different ways.

Put it all together and you have a bunch of creaky wood noises as you walk around.

Wood gets dry, nails start to pop up, the wood moves and you get creaks. However, some old houses are much quieter. Some are over-built using full dimension lumber and they’re rock solid. No bounce in the floor at all. No creaks at all. It just depends on how that person built over 100 years ago.

These answers miss that new construction is better insulated, and floors are now glued and screwed, adding to the sound deadening properties. Houses built now are much different than a house in the 70’s.

Doesn’t have to be old.

Any wooden parquet floor can creak. All it takes is for the wood to dry out and/or warp which means it doesn’t sit flush on the underlying structure any more. Every time you step on such a floorboard you make it move relative to its neighbour which creates sound. You can even feel it. It’s also interesting how it depends on seasons and you can actually see the gaps between floorboards change size from season to season.

If you want to move silently in an old house, step close to furniture. It presses the floorboards down so they don’t move much when you step on them.

Wooden stairs and other structures also often creak, especially if they are not tightly screwed together. It’s pretty much the same effect.

I will add what hasn’t been mentioned. Any squeaking noises (as opposed to creaking) will most likely be the result of the nails rubbing in the wood; if the builders did not use either or both glue, and ring shank nails in the floor system. The use of both glue AND ring shank nails will almost certainly guarantee no squeaking for the life of the home.

Some squeaking will always be present in floor systems built without ring shank nails and without glue, as over time the sheets will begin to bounce a little when weight is applied and relieved, causing the nails holding the sheets to the joist below to rub. The rubbing of the nails within the wood causes the squeak.

There is not any mention of creaking in op’s post, I believe op post is about the fact that any walking in an old house echoes throughout the whole house like if we were jumping on the floor instead of walking normally

You’re walking on all the bones and bodies that the old owners crammed into the floor boards and between the joists. To put them there they had to take up the subfloor, and put it back down. The resulting action resulted in loose and oversized nail holes and now squeaky floor boards.

That’s why when you are in an old house and you are heading upstairs and have turned off all the lights behind you, you must run up the stairs so the ghosts can’t catch you.