What’s the right spacing for subfloor screws

When it comes to flooring, there are so many small details that you have to think about. There is more to it than just picking out the right flooring. Whether building a home or replacing your floors, questions about the subflooring will quickly arise.

It makes sense that there are so many questions about subfloors because there are so many small details that you have to think about. One of these things, that you maybe didn’t even know you had to think about in the first place, is about the screws that you will be using. The question is, what’s the right spacing for subfloor screws?

What's the right spacing for subfloor screws

When installing subfloors, you will want to space the screws every 6-8 inches apart. This will ensure that the subfloors are stable and secure. It also means that no one screw is under too much pressure.

The spacing of the screws may seem like a small and silly detail, but it is a surprisingly important one. If a screw is under too much pressure, it will warp and bend much sooner than it should. This means that you will then have squeaky floors that will need to be replaced that much sooner. By properly spacing the screws every 6 to 8 inches apart, you will not have to worry about needing to replace or fix your floors or end up dealing with squeaky floors for some time.

For more information about spacing screws for subfloors, and why sometimes you may need to have them closer together, keep reading below!


Type of Screw to Use

The type of screw that you use for installing the subflooring is just as important as getting the spacing of the screws right. There are two types of screws that are mainly used for installing subflooring: steel screws and galvanized screws.

Both screws are very strong, and perfect for installing the subflooring. Steel screws are most often used inside houses. Galvanized screws are most often used outdoors for porches and decks. The reason they are great for outdoor use is that they have a special coating on them, which the manufacturers put on them, that makes them hold up well in many different weather conditions.

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Both steel and galvanized screws are great for subflooring because they are very strong and hold up very well under large amounts of pressure, which is most often the case with floors.

Another thing to think about is the length of the screws. Generally, the screws that you use for installing the subflooring should be 3 inches long. However, the rule is that you really just want to be sure that the screw is at least one inch longer than the plywood that you are using so it goes a good way into the beam underneath. This ensures that the wood is secure and makes it so that nothing moves around, which is what can cause squeaky floors.

It is only during installation that the spacing of the screws needs to even be thought about. Picking the right screw for your project is probably the most important part because it will ensure that everything is just as it should be. The spacing is secondary and not something to think about until you are about to install the subflooring.

Screw Spacing

Having the screws properly spaced when you are installing the subflooring is very important, though often overlooked. Many people get the right screws that they need and get the right length of the screw, but don’t think about the proper spacing of them.

When installing subflooring, you will want to place the screws every 6-8 inches apart. This will allow some normal movement of the wood, while still keeping it nice and secure. However, if you have construction drawings, it is important to place the screws how the drawings tell you to, whether that means they are slightly closer together or slightly further apart.

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Don’t place the screws closer together than 4-inches. If the screws are too close together, it is not good for the wood. Sometimes it is recommended to have the screws placed every 4-5 inches for spots that may be weaker, but never place them closer together than this.

When trying to figure out the spacing of the screws, it is very important that you don’t put them right next to each other, or even 1 to 2 inches apart. The reason it is important to not place the screws very close to each other when installing the subfloors is that they will break the wood. When the screws are placed very close together, it can cause the plywood to crack and splinter.

The subflooring will break quickly when the screws are placed closely together. This means that the subflooring will need to be replaced that much sooner because the floors just will not be able to hold up.

Also, you want to be sure not to space the screws too far apart from each other. If there is a large amount of space between each one you will end up with fewer screws than if you stick to spacing them every 6 to 8 inches. This means that the screws would be under a lot of pressure and not hold up as well or for as long because of this.

Why Screws?

When researching the installation process of subfloors, you will see that the use of nails is often talked about. Some places don’t even mention screws as an option for installing subflooring and only talk about nails. This is partly because of the ease and quickness of using them, especially when you are using a nail gun and not hammering them in by hand.

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Using nails does make installing subfloors faster and easier, and makes it so that you don’t have to really think because of how fast the process is. However, it is much harder to get the spacing correct when using nails. And this is not the only reason why you should not use nails. Nails are often what make floors squeaky.

When squeaky floors are getting replaced, it is often found that nails were used to install the subflooring instead of screws. The nails are also usually close together, closer than 6-8 inches.

Final Thoughts

Screws, whether steel or galvanized, are the superior choice. They are much stronger than nails, so they won’t warp and break nearly as easily as nails do. They also hold up well under lots of pressure, which is great for floors. Floors get a lot of pressure put on them with people walking on them all the time, and the weight of the furniture in the house on them.

Nails won’t last nearly as long as screws will under the amount of pressure that your floors are sure to have. They do take more time to install than nails and take more thought, but this is actually a good thing. The more time and thought you put into the project, the better it will turn out. And with screws, you will be sure that the spacing of them is perfect. Nails are hard to get the spacing right because of how quick and easy they seem to be, but since you have to take more time with screws, the spacing of them will end up being perfect.