Any chair can start squeaking. Usually, it is your favorite chair–because that is the one you sit in all the time. Be it a wooden chair, your home office chair, a recliner, or rocking chair here are some ideas you can use to quiet the chair and bring a little more peace into your life.
Fix Your Squeaky Office Chair
Now that many of us are working from home, a squeaky office chair will only annoy you, not your co-workers. Office chairs have multiple locations that can squeak.
Tighten All Screws and Bolts
The chair seat is usually screwed onto a support mechanism. Make sure these screws are tight. If you cannot tighten them because they are stripped out of the wood, mix up a slurry of sawdust and wood glue. Pack it into the holes. Let it dry, predrill a new hole, and screw the seat and base back together.
Tighten all other screws and bolts. One caution–some chairs, like mine have a bolt that is a pivot for the reclining back. It passes through both sides of the base and has a nut on each end. Do not overtighten the nuts on this shaft. It will impede the operation of the reclining back, and make more noise.
Quiet the Reclining Mechanism
The spring and hinges of the reclining mechanism are some prime areas of noise on an office chair. There is a spring inside the adjustment knob that compresses as a person leans back. It will almost invariably become noisy. Loud squeaks. Once you have removed the knob to provide access to the spring, use 3 in 1 oil on the complete spring. It will quiet the chair down for a time, but this part of the chair is quite difficult to keep noise-free.
Another option to consider for the reclining spring is Lucas Oil White Lithium Grease. Grease is a longer term fix than either the oil or silicone. It stays where you put it and takes longer to wear down.
Check the Wheels
Most office chairs are equipped with castors for smooth and easy rolling around the office. Turn the chair upside down and spin the wheels. They should move freely and easily and quietly. If they have dirt or hair in them, clean them out. If necessary you can remove them from the chair and wash them in warm soapy water. Do not soak them. A quick toothbrush cleaning and a rinse followed by drying them well, and they should be good to go.
Chair wheels run on ball bearings that are difficult to keep lubricated. (Some bearing can’t be lubricated. Some will lose the bearing grease if they are lubricated.) If the wheels wobble or squeak, you will have to replace them. Ticonn Office Chair Castor Wheels are next-generation chair wheels that work on all types of flooring.
Check the Arm Rests
Some office chair armrests are stationary; others are adjustable up and down. These can make noise. Usually less squeaking than clunking if they are loose on the shaft. You can’t really lubricate them because most are too loose. If the clunking is annoying enough, you can stuff a cloth, shim, or something else between the shaft and armrest housing that will fill the gaps and prevent movement.
Lubricate Everything – Almost
Under your chair seat, you will find all kinds of levers and pivot points to lubricate. Almost anything that moves, even if only occasionally, should be oiled with 3 in 1 oil or sprayed with 3M Dry Silicone Lubricant. Use the oil sparingly to prevent drips on the floor. If you can’t get the oil can to certain spots, use the spray because it can reach. The accelerant in the silicone will evaporate leaving a coating of silicone. The silicone does not stain but be careful not to spray it on the floor. It is slick.
Fix Your Squeaky Arm Chair
I am using the term arm chair to describe chairs that mostly consist of upholstered material over a wood frame. They kind of resemble chesterfields and can be purchased as a set.
Tighten the Legs
Many armchairs have an upholstered wooden base with solid sturdy legs screwed into the bottom of the frame. One, or more, of the legs can come loose. Not only will loose legs make a chair unstable, they can make noise as the chair moves.
Turn your chair over and tighten the legs by turning them clockwise. While you are tightening the legs, you might want to remove them completely and drip a little 3 in 1 oil onto the threads to prevent rusting. Also, if this is not the first time you have had to tighten legs, give some consideration to adding a lock washer to the leg. (Note: You may lose a little stability with the lock washer because the top of the leg will not be completely seated against the framing.)
You can also use Purple Loctite on the threads to hold the legs in place (without oil). (Note: Blue Loctite will make it difficult to remove legs; Red Loctite will make it impossible to remove the legs.)
Check the Springs
Every time you sit in the chair, you know if the springs squeak. You can turn it over and remove the fabric covering the bottom of the chair. Spray all of the internal metalwork with 3M Dry Silicone Spray Lubricant. (Dry silicone goes on wet because of the accelerant, which evaporates leaving a dry lubricant adhering to the metal.) If the chair covering is undamaged and big enough, staple it back on with an upholstery stapler. Or you may want to, or have to, replace it with new cambric furniture cloth.
If the prospect of tearing your chair apart does not excite you, take it to an upholsterer. They can deal with squeaking springs and even change the fabric while they are working on it.
Fix Recliner Noises
Our La-Z-Boy recliners are kind of miraculous when you think about it. They rock, recline, and swivel–for years. But they can be noisy. It is a good idea to turn them over once a year, remove the base, and lubricate everything. (There are a lot of moving parts under there.) Use 3-in-1 Oil for most of the job and silicone lubricant where oil is not going to get it done. Be sparing with the oil. Too much and it will be dripping on the base. Way too much and it will run off the base onto the floor.
Before you start your lubrication program, check all nuts and bolts, and screws for tightness. Tighten as required. This cuts down on squeaks and other noise, and helps increase the chair’s life span.
Fix Your Squeaky Wooden Chair
Classic wood chairs are everywhere. Almost every home has at least one, if not a set. Many of them will have upholstered seats and/or armrests. Or a removable cushion to sit on. Some of them are constructed with mechanical fasteners like screws and bolts. Some with minimal, or no fasteners.
Tighten all of the Fasteners
Many wooden chairs are held together with exposed screws and bolts. I have even seen a few with long steel rods (threaded at each end) used as cross braces. Almost invariably wooden chairs squeak because of loose nuts, bolts, and screws. Once you turn the chair upside down you have access to virtually all of the fasteners. Make sure you tighten everything. Do not overtighten.
If you have gone through this routine before, you might want to give some consideration to using lock washers or locking nuts where possible. (Some hardware requires nuts to be a little loose. In that case lock washers will not work but locking nuts are still a good option.) Another option is to use Loctite Purple on the bolt threads. It will keep the nut from loosening, but will also allow you to remove it without major force. (Loctite Red is difficult to remove; Loctite Blue is impossible to remove.)
Some models of wooden chairs are made to rock back and forth. If you have one of these, make sure you lubricate all the moving parts when you have it turned over. Go easy with the 3 in 1 oil. You do not want an oily stain on the floor like the one under an old car. It may be a better plan to coat all the moving parts–metal and wood–with 3M Silicone Lubricant. The accelerant dries, leaving the silicone.
Another excellent lubricant is graphite. It is a black power that usually lasts longer than silicone. It has been used for decades on door hinges. I do not use it or recommend using it because it can work its way out of hinges and other mechanical moving parts and make a black mess.
Taking the Squeaks out of All Wood Fastened Chairs
Some wood chairs (like many of ours) do not have mechanical fasteners. They were constructed forever ago by craftsmen who believed in perfect-sized holes and glue. Unfortunately even these will eventually become loose and start squeaking. And fixing them can be quite difficult.
I have stabilized and quieted a couple of our chairs by drilling through the leg into a cross brace and inserting a deck screw. Counter-sunk, filled and refinished. All the while fearing a visit from the ghost of the maker–a little upset by my sacrilege, and bent on punishment. I have done this because the other option is to somehow pull the chair apart to remove the loose piece and re-glue it, which seems counter-productive.
The correct way to do this is to remove the legs and cross braces that have become loose, clean the old glue off the braces and out of the holes, then re-glue everything back together with a good quality wood glue. (I have used Weldbond Glue for years gluing casing corners–among other projects–together. Wonderful glue.) You can use a small spiral wire brush to clean the glue out of the holes, but I prefer a drill bit to match original hole size. Quicker, easier, and does not scar the hole.
Note: If you have these types of chairs (or any type), and you find someone tilting it back against the wall instead of sitting properly, it is perfectly acceptable to pummel him/her with a chair leg. In our house that is the required response.