How to Replace a Damaged Hardwood Floor Board

Follow these easy steps to replace that “one bad board.”

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Next Project
Time

A full day

Complexity

Beginner

Cost

$20-50

Introduction

Repairing tongue-and-groove hardwood floorboards is easy with the right tools and a little know-how. Many common problems can be fixed in a day to make your floor look like new again.

Over the years, I’ve seen my share of damaged hardwood floors. Sometimes the flaw can be repaired with wood putty and a quick touch-up. Other times, it requires surgery. Here are some tips to help you repair your flooring trouble spots.

Tools Required

  • 23-gauge pin nailer
  • 23-guage pin nailer
  • Cordless drill
  • Miter saw
  • Pry bar
  • Track saw

Materials Required

  • Hardwood flooring plank

Meet the Expert

Fh21djf 607 03 032 Courtesy Jay CorkFamily Handyman

As a remodeling carpenter, Jay Cork has repaired many hardwood floors but never damaged any — he swears.

Project step-by-step (14)

Step 1

Stain and Finish the New Board to Match

I prefer to always do this step first. Test some stain colors on new floorboards and apply some urethane. Once you find a good match, repeat that process for the actual repair.

  • Pro tip: Even when you use the same stain and finish, each piece of scrap floorboard may look slightly different. Stain and finish several pieces and go with the best match.

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Step 2

Tape the Boundary Area

Inspect the damaged flooring plank and decide how much length to remove. Stagger the ends of the repair about five inches from the butt joints of the adjacent floorboards. Place masking tape to define the boundary, using the replacement board as a guide.

How To Replace A Damaged Hardwood Floor Board

Step 3

Drill Relief Holes

Drill three 1/2-in. holes with a Forstner bit close to each end of the board you’re removing. Don’t try to get the holes perfectly on the butt joint — about 1/8-in. away is fine.

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Step 4

Chisel the Butt Joint

With a sharp chisel, clean up the space between the holes and the end of the repair. Start by making a vertical cut to cleanly sever the wood fibers, then come in at a slight angle to remove waste. Repeat this process until you reach the subfloor.

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Step 5

Make the Relief Cuts

Saw two parallel relief cuts an inch apart down the center of the floorboard to be removed. To avoid cutting through the subfloor, set the saw blade no more than 1/16-in. deeper than the thickness of the flooring.

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Step 6

Finish the Cuts

You can get only so close to the ends of the repair with the circular saw. Finish the relief cuts with an oscillating multitool and a narrow wood-cutting blade.

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Step 7

Remove the Damaged Board

With a small pry bar, remove the strip of flooring between the relief cuts. Next, pull out the tongue-and-groove edges of the damaged board. Completely clean out the open section of flooring with a shop vacuum.

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Step 8

Trim the Tongue

To make it easier for the tongue on the replacement board to slip into the existing floorboards, trim it at a slight angle. Angle the blade on the table saw to about seven degrees and set the fence so the blade just trims the tongue.

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Step 9

Trim the Groove Side

Cut off the bottom lip of the grooved edge of the replacement board. Be sure to set your blade depth so it only cuts the bottom lip and avoids cutting the top lip.

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Step 10

Cut the Replacement Board to Length

Cut the replacement piece to length with a miter saw. Make the cuts with a slight bevel so the piece will drop into place easier, creating a cleaner, tighter butt joint.

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Step 11

Glue the Boards

Spread glue on the tongues of the replacement piece and the adjacent board. Any wood glue will work.

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Step 12

Install the New Board

Tap the repair board into place with a rubber mallet. If you don’t have a rubber mallet, a hammer will work, but place a piece of scrap wood in between to protect the repair. Wipe off excess glue with a damp cloth.

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Step 13

Secure the Repair

After gluing in the replacement board, add 23-gauge pins for peace of mind. Angle the gun slightly and drive in a pin every four inches. Use a micro pin nailer to do the job right.

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Step 14