Have a hardwood floor that needs to be patched? This tutorial teaches you how to replace hardwood floor boards so you can save your flooring.
What is one of the most sought after features of an old house? Something that you hope for when you remove dingy carpets and old linoleum?
You guessed it! Hardwood flooring!
But what if your hardwood flooring is in need of some repair? What if there are a few areas that need to be replaced?
More than likely, if you have an old home, you will encounter this problem at some point. But don’t worry. You can repair your wood floors with a few easy steps.
Note: This method is best for small repairs. If your hardwood floor is extensively damaged, replacing it might be a better option.
We had a couple of areas in our master bedroom where the old radiators used to come up through the floor. Those radiators had been removed before we bought the house, but the holes remained. We removed the carpet and wanted to restore the hardwood so those holes had to go.
What you will need:
- Small flatbar or painter’s tool
- Replacement flooring (It is best to use the same age of flooring and the same type of hardwood.)
- Tape measure
- Oscillating saw with flat blade
- Nail gun and nails
Steps to Replace Hardwood Floor Boards
Step 1: Cut Out the Old Flooring
Use a saw to cut out the flooring that is damaged. You need to cut around each board that you want to replace because there are usually nails holding the boards to the sub floor as well as tongue and groove connecting each floor board to each other.
We used an oscillating saw with a flat blade to cut through the nails that were holding the floor down. Choose a blade that is only as deep as your flooring so that you don’t cut into the subfloor.
Step 2: Remove the Old Flooring
Once you have cut around each floor board, use a screw to screw down into one of the boards you are removing. Take the hammer and pull up on the screw to work the board out.
Once you have your first board out, take your flatbar or painter’s tool and hammer it under the next board you need to remove. Use them to pry out the rest of the damaged boards.
Step 3: Replace the Hardwood Floor Boards
Now it is time to measure the area you pulled up and cut replacement floor boards to fit.
The absolute best type of flooring to use as a replacement is flooring of the same type and age as the flooring in your house. That is the only way to guarantee it will pick up stain like the rest of your floor. If you mix old and new wood, the boards may stain lighter or darker and the repair will be very noticeable.
The second best option is to find a store that sells reclaimed wood flooring of a similar year and type (i.e. maple, oak, etc.) This is hard to do, but could be worth it if you want to keep your wood floors.
If you have to replace the flooring with new wood you will have to rip up a good section of your flooring and try to scatter the new flooring in with the old. Or put the new flooring in an area that is not seen as much, like a closet. Pull the old wood from the closet and use the old hardwood to patch any areas that are more noticeable.
Pro Tip: Any time you do a remodeling project and have to remove old trim or flooring, KEEP IT. You never know when you might need it for a repair in your home.
We used flooring that we had removed from our closet when we turned our closet into the shower in our master bathroom remodel. As a result, the floor took the stain the same as the rest of our room and it is hard to tell where we replaced our boards.
Step 4: Attach the Flooring
Once your boards are cut and placed, use a nail gun and trim nails to nail them into the sub floor. We used 15 gauge trim nails in our floors.
Now, normally, in new hardwood flooring installation, you would nail into the tongue on the side of the board so that the nail is hidden. When patching in old flooring, you may not have access to the tongue. In this case you will need to face nail the floor boards down. Face nailing is the term used to nail into the top of the board. Nail two nails on the ends of each board and use nails throughout the center of the board to secure the flooring down.
If you want to hide the nail holes, you can fill them with wood filler and a small amount of sawdust from the flooring you cut. Using sawdust from the flooring you installed helps blend the stain in. The sawdust should stain the same color as the rest of your floor and the wood filler keeps the sawdust in place.
Completed Hardwood Floor Repairs
Now your flooring should be fixed and ready to be sanded and stained.
We used a floor drum sander to sand the old finish off the floor and then stained and finished it.
This is what the flooring looked like in the corner before we replaced it.
And here is the same section after we replaced the hardwood floor boards and sanded, stained and finished the floors. We also fixed the hole in our painted trim.
And here is the other area that we repaired.
Both of these sections look much better without the holes in them and because we used the old flooring from the closet, the stain is the exact same color on the whole floor.