While it's cool for chairs to have foldable legs, wheels, and reclining mechanisms, such components can be a nightmare once they make squeaking sounds.
If you're working or watching your favorite movie, it can be pretty annoying when the chair is shattering your concentration.
Whenever you move, lean back, or swivel, a chair's loose bolts, rusty wheels, or shrinking dowels can generate squeaking noise. If you're fed up with the sounds, you don't have to replace it immediately. Sometimes, all you need to do is tighten wobbly joints, lubricate moving parts, and even reassemble the chair— all without spending a penny!
This is why we've collected all the useful information to help you determine why chairs make noise, and the appropriate solutions to mitigate the problem.
Your chairs will be as quiet as the day you bought them after trying out our best soundproofing solutions.
Reasons Why Chairs Make Squeaking Sounds
Before anything else, it's important you understand that various chair types require different solutions. This is due to three general categories:
- Classic wooden chairs: Include all chairs that are usually made of wood with small upholstered elements.
- Armchairs: Fully upholstered chairs that look like sofas or couches.
- Work or gaming chairs: Contain moving mechanisms for height adjustment, reclining, and wheels.
Whenever you sit on any kind of chair, you can pinpoint the source of noise by listening to where the sounds emit. From there, the following are the usual culprits:
Loose Screws and Bolts
Since you probably bought your chair already assembled, you aren't sure about the tightness of the screws and bolts.
If most of your chairs are wooden, the noise is usually due to a loose part somewhere on the chair.
Chairs contain individual pieces screwed together. In most cases, the bolts and screws become squeaky and rusty over time.
Whenever the wooden and metal parts loosen, they will start rubbing against each other and produce squeaking sounds.
Rusty Legs or Wheels
Armchairs tend to have sturdier legs than normal chairs since they have to carry the weight of a fully upholstered seat.
In this case, the squeaking sounds typically come from loose legs or rusty swivel wheels.
There are also cases wherein the wheels make noise due to moisture, especially if you work or live in a humid area.
There are times that screws and bolts are okay, yet you still can't locate the cause of the noise.
This is because it's hidden somewhere that's often overlooked— springs inside the cushions.
In gaming chairs, the spring will only squeak when you lean back, mainly because of too much tension where the spring's ends rub on the housing ends.
Several Moving Components
People use gaming chairs either for work or recreation because of the comfortable mesh or leather materials.
However, this type of chair is usually the one that's most likely to generate noise. After all, there are several moving parts involved.
A gaming chair usually has reclining features, which inevitably make sounds when used.
Aside from that, armrests are the weakest elements, while height adjustments also contain moving metal parts. Lastly, gaming chairs typically have a base of five swivel wheels.
When you combine these parts, even if the gaming chair is brand new, it will emit an awful amount of noise.
A dowel is a peg of wood, plastic, or metal without a distinct head that's used for holding together components of a chair.
When the dowels begin to shrink, the chair's legs will loosen and start to make squeaking sounds.
Each day you use a chair with wheels, it will encounter dirt, dust, hair, carpet fuzz, grime, food crumb, and anything else they may come in contact with.
All of that mess builds up over time and gets caught in the casters, making it difficult for you to move the chair. If you force the wheels to move, the strain will only make noise.
Kind of like the loose screws and bolts, there are times when improper installation creates unwanted noise. This applies to both self-assembled and fully-assembled chairs.
Wrong placement of the legs, forgetting to put a particular piece, or simply not tightening up bolts all result in bad installation, and consequently, squeaky sounds.
How to Quiet a Squeaky Chair
No matter what kind of chair you have, it will inevitably make noise. Below are some of the best ways to fix a squeaky chair after determining the source of sounds.
Tighten Loose Joints
Remember that sitting too much, especially on wooden and gaming chairs can put pressure on tiny hardware. One of the easiest ways to fix a squeaky chair is to tighten loose joints.
Grease the Moving Parts
Moisture in the air can cause rust. Gaming chairs tend to have rusty components because of the steel materials.
After lubricating screws, nails, bolts, and nuts, dry them out before putting them back in. In this way, you can prevent moisture and rust buildup.
Try spraying oil directly on the components and make sure to pat everything dry before using the chair again.
For more control and less mess, apply oil on a soft material and then rub it onto the noisy parts. Do this regularly to help prevent any squeaking noises.
Fix the Springs
There are three ways you can try to do when fixing the springs. First, use a screwdriver or nail remover to remove the screws or nails.
Get access to the springs and apply a thread seal tape. Rub the tape to lessen the pressure between the springs that drive the squeaking.
If that doesn't work, the second thing to try is to apply oil to the seat tension spring found inside the turn-knob housing.
Simply loosen the seat tension turn-knob and remove the turn-knob to spray oil inside the housing.
If the first two methods still don't work, the last solution to consider is to hire an upholsterer to strip the chair of its upholstery and replace the springs.
Clean the Rusted Parts
Cleaning acts not only as a solution, but also as a preventative measure. Like other household items, cleaning and maintenance prevent chairs from being rusty and noisy.
The simplest way to clean a chair is to soak steel wool or old toothbrush in white vinegar or a carbonated beverage.
Gently scrub the rust off the metallic components. Pay special attention to swivel wheels, as well as height adjustment and reclining mechanism.
Apply Wood Glue
If your chair has no screws to tighten, the next best thing to do is to hold all the pieces together and stabilize wobbly leg joints by using wood glue.
- Locate the source of weakness, gently rock the loose limbs of the chair until they come off, and reinstall them with wood glue. Remember, ordinary glue won't work.
- You can also add some wood filler to the wood glue to create a thicker consistency and further stabilize the legs.
- After applying wood glue, allow the chair to rest before sitting on it again.
- Use a wet rag to wipe away any excess glue that comes out of the joints.
- Flip the chair back over and check for squeaks.
Expand the Dowels By Using a Wood-Swelling Liquid
When shrinking dowels are the ones making squeaky noise, the best solution is to apply some wood-swelling liquid.
A wood-swelling solution aims to fill in the gaps in the chair's joints, which produce the squeaking sounds.
To make the dowels secure in the chair again, all you need to do is to follow these steps:
- Check the joints in the chair and see if the dowels that run into the chair's back or legs are secured tightly.
- Apply pressure on the chair's back or outside of the leg to press them into the dowel.
- Once you locate a joint that seems to be squeaking, remove the limbs to give you access to the dowel.
- Put a wood-swelling solution all the way around the dowel that is generating the squeak.
- Connect the legs or back after applying the solution.
- Let the wood-swelling liquid seep into the hole where it will tighten and harden the dowel. Then, secure the dowel firmly.
- Allow the solution to dry completely or wait at least an hour before sitting in the chair.
Conduct a Wheel Check and Use Silicone Spray
While you may come across a variety of wheels, standard wheels are inserted into the body of the chair via a metal post fixed to the top of the wheel.
With constant use and time, those metal posts will wear down and loosen.
Since desk and gaming chairs are often on wheels that move a lot, the wheel axles can suffer from friction, and ultimately lead to squeaking sounds.
Here's a simple guide on how to perform a wheel check and apply silicone spray:
- Roll the chair back and forth to check out the wheels.
- Flip the chair over.
- Lay the chair on paper towels and spray the wheels with some silicone spray.
- Give the metal posts a good squirt as well. Be sure to spray inside the post housing.
- Roll the chair for a few seconds to make sure the silicone spray covers the entire wheel.
Check the Casters
When there's grime on the casters, flip the chair over and pull out any visible clumps of dirt or hair.
Use a vacuum cleaner or compressed air to blow out the remaining dirt.
Give a quick spray of lubricant to ensure the wheels will roll as quietly and smoothly as possible.
Reassemble the Chair
Another way to fix a squeaky chair is to deconstruct the whole chair and swap the bolts or replace parts.
Turn the chair upside down and try to detach the part that makes the noise. Keep a screwdriver and extra bolts ready should you need replacement parts.
Reconnect the noisy component in the same way you've taken it out. This time, make sure that the component is aligned correctly or the chair has enough screws.
Replace Old or Rusty Components
If the components are too rusty to the point that cleaning won't work, it's safer to replace them instead. Additionally, apply a rust deterrent from time to time.
Even if you don't want to remove the existing hardware, you can add reinforcement with more bracket hinges or nails to make the chair sturdier.
When putting in more screws, make sure they are long enough to secure the wood, yet not long enough to come through the other side of the wood.
Replace the Chair
If all methods do not seem to work for you, maybe it's high time to consider investing in a brand new and quieter chair.
In some cases, it's more cost-effective to buy a new one instead of trying two or more soundproofing methods.
However, this should only be your last option. Sometimes, a simple DIY fix is all that you need.
Do Some Preventative Measures
After fixing your chair, there are some preventative measures you can take to avoid having to do all of this again in the future:
- Use a vacuum cleaner to clean your chair at least once a week.
- Unless otherwise stated on the upholstery tag, use warm water and soap to spot clean your chair.
- Don't throw yourself into chairs.
- Avoid leaning the chair back on just two legs.
Is It Necessary to Hire an Upholsterer to Fix a Squeaky Chair?
If you have safety or handiness concerns when doing DIY soundproofing methods, you can always seek a professional to do the job for you.
While an upholsterer is someone who creates, repairs, and repairs coverings on furniture, they are also knowledgeable about other components of a chair.
More than that, upholsterers need to stay updated with trends in furniture style and design.
In this way, you can get the best opinion for fixing squeaky chairs, depending on your needs, preferences, and lifestyle.
As you can see, there are tons of ways for you to fix and soundproof squeaky chairs. You don't have to suffer and tolerate noisy household furniture.
Once you understand how chairs work and learn how to fix them, you can always make your chairs appear brand new.
Remember, buying a new one isn't always the best solution. While fixing is necessary, make sure to conduct maintenance to prevent noise from coming back.
Jessica is a Acoustical Engineer, currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. After graduating from her degree in Master of Engineering degree in Acoustics from Solent University in 2014, Jessica worked for a few companies before She will be blogging about her past and current experiences in the studio and sharing her journey as she pursues her career goals. She enjoy the balance of work inside and out of the office, solving practical problems on a daily basis as every project is different and requires a different solution, the variety of work (sound insulation testing, background noise survey, mechanical plant commissioning, external plant assessment, plant room breakout assessments) and the mix of independent and team work.