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Patching Hardwood Floors
Part of the charm of hardwood floors is their imperfections. Slight variations in grain and color, as well as the minor spots and specs in the wood help provide an aged-to-perfection look for your floors. However, you may encounter a cracked plank or damage to a section of your floor that doesn't look quite so attractive.
Never fear. Single planks or small sections of floor can be replaced. In a few short hours you can restore the charm of your floor with little to no evidence of any prior damage. Before you begin, make sure you can get new wood planks that are the same thickness and type (usually oak or pine).
BEFORE You Start...
Skill Level & Time to Complete
Beginner - 1 to 2 hours
Intermediate - 45 to 90 minutes
Advanced - 30 to 60 minutes
- Always wear eye protection when working with power tools and striking tools.
- Make sure you are able to find wood materials that match the style and dimensions of your existing floor. Flooring usually comes in oak or pine and can be pre-finished. You don't want to start this project unless you have replacement wood available.
The first thing to do is understand how a hardwood floor is held down. Generally hardwood floors are tongue and groove construction and "blind" nailed into position. When they are in installed, the carpenter started at one edge of the room installing one row at a time by anchoring the groove side of each board to the previous tongue. Then the tongue side is nailed diagonally through its edge so that the nail is hidden from the floor surface.
Other characteristics of hardwood floors are the staggered joints and random lengths of each the boards. These are important components to a floor's strength and aesthetic appeal.
When replacing a single damaged board in your hardwood floor, it is generally best to replace the entire board. It is easier if you do not need to make any cuts perpendicular to the direction of your floorboards.
Begin by setting your circular saw to the exact depth of the hardwood floor. You do not want to cut into your sub-floor. The typical thickness of a hardwood floor is ¾". Wear your safety glasses while cutting. Make 2 cuts down the center of the plank about ½" apart. Make sure you do not cut into the adjacent boards.
Use a chisel to remove the center piece. You will need to cut through the remaining wood at the ends with a chisel and hammer. If the wood does not come out easily, you may need to make twomore passes with your circular saw set slightly deeper.
Pry out the other 2 pieces of wood and remove all nails. Try not to damage the surface or tongue and grooves on any of the good boards.
Measure the space you need to fill. Cut the new plank about 1/16" shorter than your measurement to allow the wood to expand and contract and for ease of installation.
Flip over the board you just cut and remove the lower segment of the groove edge with a hammer and chisel. Position the new board in place by inserting the tongue edge first and then setting the groove edge into place. You may need to use a block of wood and a hammer to tap the board into place. The new board surface should be flush with the existing boards. If it is too high, use a belt sander to bring it down to flush after you nail the board in place. Make sure you sand in the direction of the wood grain. Do not sand pre-finished flooring.
Using hardened flooring nails, drive nails into the face of the new board to hold it in place. On harder woods, like oak, you may need to drill pilot holes. Use a nail set to drive the nail heads below the surface of the board. Use a wood filler to fill in the nail holes.
To replace several boards in one area, try to take out the entire length of each board. This will maintain the staggered joint sequence of your floor. Use the same removal method discussed above for single boards. When installing the new boards, chisel off the lower segment of the groove edges only where necessary. You may be able to "blind" nail some of the new boards and surface nail the last new board you install. Either way, make sure each board is sufficiently nailed into place.