Full disclosure, most of the furniture in my house is pretty old and rickety. I was especially reluctant to part with this one rocking chair I used to read in when I was a kid. The only thing that was annoying about it was the infernal sound it kept making when I sat in it. Until a few months ago, I just couldn’t figure out how to fix the squeaking noises the chair kept producing with every movement.
Obviously, I wanted to find a way to rectify the issue. If you’re dealing with a similar situation, I understand the need for urgency. Hearing those high-pitched sounds day in and day out can be really annoying, especially if you’re as sensitive to noise as I am. So what can you do about it?
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Why Do Chairs Make Squeaking Sounds?
Before we talk about the methods I used to fix my squeaky chairs, it’s important to understand that every chair you work on will require a different approach. All of the chairs I’ve worked on fall into three general categories:
- Classic wooden chairs, which includes all chairs that are mostly made of wood with small upholstered elements
- Armchairs, which are fully upholstered chairs that resemble sofas
- Work or gaming chairs, which have moving mechanisms for reclining, height adjustment, and wheels
So let’s see what it is about all of these kinds of chairs that can potentially make noise.
Squeaky Classic Wooden Chairs
Most of us have plenty of classic wooden chairs scattered around our homes. We use them in dining rooms, kids bedrooms, and home offices. They can be completely made of wood with detachable sitting pillows, or wooden with upholstered elements.
Either way, fixing any squeaks is fairly easy because the noise is typically the result of a loose part somewhere on the chair. Generally, all of the screws and bolts are visible. So you can just flip the chair and set it seat-down onto a table and get to work tightening everything.
Whether you’re working with a regular wooden chair with four legs, a rocking chair, or even a smaller stool, you’ll also want to start by figuring out how the different parts come together. Usually, the chair is held together with bolts and screws, which can become rusty and squeaky.
Additionally, plenty of Ikea-style furniture nowadays had glue in the joints, which can loosen pretty easily. The squeaking noises can happen if the metal or wooden parts loosen and start rubbing against each other.
Armchairs tend to have sturdier legs than regular chairs because they have to carry the weight of a fully upholstered seat. However, it wouldn’t be impossible to find that an armchair is squeaking because of loose legs. Additionally, one of the armchairs I worked on was actually making noises because of rusty swivel wheels. So you’ll first want to look at the legs or wheels of the chair.
But what if another part of the wooden construction of the chair is loose? Or, for that matter, what if the springs inside the cushions are making the noise? Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to tell without stripping the chair of its upholstery. That’s something I’d be pretty reluctant to do, so I imagine you’ll want to avoid it as well.
Still, if you suspect that to be the case, I suggest taking the fully upholstered pieces to an upholsterer. And you might as well get new fabric for your chair while you’re at it. Ultimately, while you could attempt to figure out what’s going on inside the armchair yourself, I’d advise against it if you don’t already have experience with similar projects.
Squeaky Office and Gaming Chairs
Lastly, most people also have gaming or office chairs in their homes. In my experience, these kinds of chairs are also the ones that are most likely to make noise. After all, there are so many moving parts involved:
- Reclining features start making noise almost immediately
- Armrests are the weakest elements
- Height adjustments also involve moving metal parts
- Office chairs typically have a base of five swivel wheels
Unfortunately, all of these parts combined can produce an ungodly amount of noise. Worse still, even a brand new chair can start squeaking fairly soon after you bring it home. So it’s usually not even a matter of working with old and rusted metal parts.
Wheelchairs are another kind of chairs that have elements that are similar to gaming chairs but don’t produce as much noise. Thanks to their sturdy build, they rarely make any noise at all. Still, if you happen to have a squeaky wheelchair, I’ll bet the noise will stop if you lubricate the joints.
How to Fix a Squeaky Chair Step by Step
No matter what kind of chair you’re trying to squeak-proof, the following steps will apply. So let’s see the first thing you’ll need to do.
1. Determine the Source of the Squeaking
Before you start rubbing oil and nailing the joints, it would be helpful to know exactly where the noise is coming from. One way to determine that would be to get on the floor next to the chair and listen for the noise while someone else sits on the chair, shifting their weight. You can mark the areas where you think the noise is coming from with bits of duct tape and pay special attention to them later.
2. Get Your Tool Box and Supplies
Once you figure out the general area the noise is coming from, you can get the chair into whichever position is the most comfortable for you. I suggest turning them upside down since the issue is most likely in the legs. If you’re working with a gaming chair, you could also disassemble it.
In order to do that, you’ll need to get a toolbox with a screwdriver, a metal hammer or a rubber mallet, and some nails. Personally, I didn’t need to go out and buy any of this since I already had everything I needed. I even had a bowl of miscellaneous nails I had accumulated over the past few decades. If you have a similar collection, just make sure that the nails you’re putting into the chairs are rust-free.
If the chair has nuts and bolts instead of nails or screws, you might need a drill and bolt remover bits. Those will come in handy if you’re planning on completely deconstructing the chairs or swapping the bolts for new ones. And before you put the metal pieces back into the chair, you’ll also want to use a lubricant like WD-40. Lastly, if you’re working on a chair that’s glued together, you can also stock up on heavy duty construction adhesive.
3. Clean or Replace Rusted Parts
If the chair you’re working on has any metal parts whatsoever, you’ll first want to make sure that none of them are rusty. Clean them up as well as you can with steel wool, toothbrushes, or soak the part in white vinegar or a carbonated beverage. Better yet, you can simply swap out the rusted parts for new ones.
Pay special attention to chairs that are mostly metal, such as gaming chairs. Check all of the swivel wheels and the height adjustment mechanism, as well as the reclining mechanism. You probably won’t be able to replace those parts, though, so the next best thing would be to lubricate them with a rust deterrent.
4. Lubricate the Moving Parts
If you do have a gaming chair, I highly recommend using WD-40 as a preventative measure against rust. As I have mentioned, these kinds of chairs do have the weakest construction. So there’s really not much you can do to prevent noise, other than not using the chair at all.
Obviously, you don’t want to lubricate any nuts, bolts, nails, and screws before driving them into the wood. However, if you have removed them in order to clean the rust, you’ll want to make sure that they’re dry before putting them back in. That’ll go a long way to prevent the metal from rusting again.
5. Tighten Loose Joints
Indeed, if you’re working on a squeaky wooden chair, the most obvious solution to your problem would be to tighten all of the screws that are holding it together. In those cases, loose chair limbs are the most likely culprit for the noise.
Use your screwdriver or a drill with a bolt bit to tighten all connections. You can also add new screws and nails into the chair if you think the wood is sturdy enough to take them and you’re not afraid of messing it up.
On the other hand, if the chair you’re working on has no screws for you to tighten, use whichever medium the manufacturer used to hold all the pieces together. Gently rock the loose limbs of the chair until they come off and reinstall them with wood glue.
Final Thoughts on Fixing Squeaky Chairs
Once you fix up your chairs, there are also some preventative measures you can take to avoid having to do all of this again in the near future. Basically, they boil down to being careful with your chairs. Don’t throw yourself into them and try not to lean back on just two legs if you can help it. These things can really loosen all the joints and the moving mechanisms of a chair.
Hopefully, this guide will prove easy enough for anyone to follow. After all, why should you put up with squeaky chairs if you don’t need to? In fact, the same goes for squeaky beds, floors, and doors. Really, most of these issues are incredibly simple to fix. You just need to roll up your sleeves and you can get it done in a single afternoon.