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How To Repair Hardwood Floors

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Authored by Douglas Mefford in Home Repair
Published on 05-24-2009

A well-made hardwood floor adds a special touch of elegance to any dwelling and can last for many years. However, with wood being an organic substance, there are some problems that may develop which may require some work on the flooring. Since the hardest part of repairing or replacing sections of a hardwood floor is matching the coloration of the new wood with the old, most of these repairs can be done by the experienced do-it-yourselfer.

As time and humidity works on a hardwood floor, there rises the potential for squeaks to develop when the floor is walked over. These usually come from either a nail that has just missed a joist beginning to rub against the wood or a warping of one board so that it rubs against an adjacent board. If the squeak is not too bad a simple lubrication with graphite or talcum powder pushed into the cracks between the boards may alleviate the problem.

A longer-term solution would require finding the exact location of the squeaking and stop it permanently. If you discover an out of place nail, cut it off as close to the wood as possible. Examine the sub-flooring. Sometimes all it would require is driving a few more nails into the joists to remove any gaps that have developed over time. A slim wedge, or shim, may also be used to help firm up the connection between the separate elements of the hardwood floor.

Severe warping, water damage, or splits in the hardwood of the floor requires a much more elaborate fix. With a problem such as this you will have to carefully cut out the boards or section that needs to be replaced. Most hardwood floors are either square edged planks or cut in a tongue and groove manner. A circular saw set precisely to the thickness of the wood is used. You do not want the saw to reach lower or it will cut into the substrate, be it plywood or concrete. You will need to cut across the board or boards in the section to be removed, and with tongue and groove boards you will need to go along one side as well. Do not cut all the way to the edge as this may damage surrounding hardwood boards. Use a chisel to work the rest of the way through and remove the board or section. You may then carefully measure and fit new wood into the flooring.

It can be hard to match the color, so it is always advised to install a slightly lighter color of wood so that some careful staining or tinting will result in as close a match as possible to the color of the old wood. Help hold the new section in place with finishing nails driven an eighth of an inch down with the holes filled with neutral wood putty.

Water damage may require a full replacement of the plywood substrate. If the surface wood is not damaged it may be removed in large sections so that full sheets of substrate can be used. Careful nailing and puttying will help fit the old surface on the new underlying pad without there being a potential for hidden wet-rot or the floor developing noisy squeaks.

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