Why Does Wood Furniture Creak?


Wood Furniture Creak

Things can get a little spooky at night when you are in a house filled with old wooden furniture. This is especially true when you start hearing eerie, creaky noises emanating from your cabinets or closets in the corner of the room. Did you ever wonder why wooden furniture gets so noisy at night? You are not alone. 

Why does wood furniture creak? Wood furniture creaks because of the changes in temperature, pressure, and humidity that occur during the night. The creaking you hear is the wood warping as it is affected by those changes. 

What you’re hearing is normal, especially during the nighttime. If you have been wondering what’s going on with your furniture or if it’s a sign of poor workmanship, keep reading. The answers to these mysteries might surprise you. 

Why Does Wood Furniture Creak?

Wood, just like any other organic material, can expand, contract, and warp depending on what’s going on in their environment. High heat can cause wood to expand, while colder temperatures can cause them to contract. This alone can cause wooden furniture to creak. 

If the furniture in question happens to have other materials included in its build, you might hear creaking turn into popping or cracking. This is normal and shouldn’t spook you, either. Let’s talk about what’s going on, shall we?

Does Wood Furniture Make Noise? 

Unless you are working with a synthetic, specially designed material, the furniture will expand and contract based on environmental factors. Wood furniture, though sturdy, is famous for creaking, cracking, and popping because of those minor changes. 

What Contributes to Creaking Furniture?

Believe it or not, heat alone is not the only reason why your dresser drawers might go bump in the night. Many different factors can cause wood’s shape to warp, expand, and shift around to the point of creaking. The most common factors include:

  • Temperature Changes. The more drastic the change is, the more likely it is that you will hear creaking. So, if your home usually is 72 degrees and the temperature drops to 50, you’ll probably hear a creak. If your home drops from 73 degrees to 70 degrees, creaking probably won’t happen.
  • The Speed of The Temperature Change. The faster temperatures change, the more likely it is you will hear a creak or crack. The average home exterior can have a temperature drop as low as 30 degrees in a single night, so if you have heard the house settle, this is most likely what caused it.
  • Humidity. Extreme humidity can cause wood to swell and warp, causing your wooden furniture to creak at an increased rate. This is particularly common with wood types that aren’t covered with varnish.
  • Differing Materials. All matter will expand in heat and contract in cold. That does not just include wood; it also rings true for metal, glue, and plywood. When different materials are used to make furniture, the chances of creaking can increase since materials expand at different rates. What you’re hearing could likely be the sound of different materials grinding on one another. 
  • Wood Type and Quality. Some wood types are more likely to creak than others. Wood that has not been treated well will creak more than wood that has been regularly maintained. Engineered wood products are the least likely to creak, followed up by dense woods like mahogany.

How Do You Stop Wood Furniture from Creaking?

If you get a little unsettled or annoyed by hearing the creaking of furniture in the middle of the night, you are not alone. It can be an issue, especially for light sleepers. Though you can’t entirely eliminate the sound of creaking in your furniture, doing these things can help:Gently move the furniture around to try to get a better sense of where the noise is coming from. You should be able to narrow down which joints are causing the squeaking. In most cases, creaks are caused by loose dowels, screws, and nails. 

Check for loose screws. Loose screws and nails can worsen creaking and squeaking. If you notice them, tighten them up and try to wiggle the furniture around to see if it continues to squeak.

Add extra glue to loose joints if necessary. If you can, take apart the joints and sand off any old glue. Then, add new glue to the joint and use clamps to squeeze the two joints together to ensure that you get as tight a seal as possible. 

If you want to add extra security, nail through squeaky joints and clamp them together for 24 hours. The more reinforcement you use, the better off you are going to be. If your furniture is an antique, consider taking it to a professional for reinforcement and refurbishing. 

Add wooden furniture oil or polish if necessary. Dryness can also contribute to furniture creaks and squeaks. Having that extra bit of lubrication from a natural oil can reduce squeaking immensely. 

How Do You Prevent Wooden Furniture from Creaking?

When it comes to creaks and groans, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The easiest way to make sure that you don’t have to deal with wooden furniture that creaks every night is to try to keep your building as climate-controlled as possible.

By keeping a steady temperature and keeping your humidity levels consistent, the chances are that you will notice a very steep decline in the number of creaks you hear every night. If you can’t keep your climate fully controlled, trying to do what you can to keep the temperature fluctuations to a minimum will help.

Is It Always Old Furniture That Makes Creaking Noises?

Not always. Though old furniture is the most common cause of creaking at night, it is also possible to have brand new furniture make a little noise. In the case of new furniture, the creaking you hear should subside after a couple of weeks as it settles into use. 

Is Creaking Furniture A Sign of a Potential Break in The Future?

Though hearing creaks can be alarming, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions about the quality of your furniture when it happens. It all depends on how bad the creaking is and how wobbly the furniture happens to be. Obviously, if the furniture is wobbly, you need to address the source of the looseness before the glue completely disappears.

If the creaking comes from solid furniture, the noise you hear should not be cause for alarm. Even the sturdiest of furniture can creak from time to time. After all, temperature fluctuations can happen in almost any building. 

Conclusion

Wood furniture will always tend to creak, even if you are the proud owner of some seriously expensive furniture. The creaks and cracking you hear is just the sound of materials expanding and contracting due to the natural changes in temperature and humidity that happen throughout a typical day.

If you want to fix your furniture’s creaking habits, the best way to do it is to reinforce your furniture by gluing (and nailing) any loose joints that are particularly prone to shifting. Adding a little lubricant and polish can also be an immense help!

Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you want to prevent your wooden furniture from becoming a nighttime symphony, keeping your home’s climate steady will work wonders…and possibly keep your furniture in better shape for longer. 

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