How to Repair Hardwood Floors Yourself

Once upon a time, my husband and I moved in to this gigantic house (for us) which was cheap, but had a lot of issues. Even though we were working long hours and exhausted, the flooring was in complete disrepair and something needed to be done. The wood was chipped, nails had become unhinged and the color was at best inconsistent.

Having a three year old with another on the way, my husband thought it would be a good idea for us to utilize more of the house by fixing the floors. He says it’s because of safety. I argue that it was for our sanity, since the bad flooring meant that our son spent every minute in the room with us.

When he suggested repairing the floors himself, I laughed. My husband is highly capable, but in general, I don’t think of him as the man that works with his hands. I have learned over the years that when he sets his mind to something, he gets it done. He managed to redo the living room to a gorgeous sparkle, well worth his time, and not heavy on our wallet.

How to Repair Hardwood Floors Yourself

Replacing an entire hardwood floor is a labor-intensive and expensive proposition. If your hardwood floor is only damaged in one or two spots, it’s much better to simply repair the damage. It’s surprisingly easy and relatively inexpensive to make these kinds of small repairs by replacing a board in the flooring. In addition to fixing dings and scratches, you can repair buckled areas of the floor as well.

In most cases, hardwood floors use tongue and groove construction that connects adjacent boards. While this design doesn’t make it easy to replace a single board, it is still possible. Start by looking for any nails in the board and use a nail set and a hammer to drive them through the wood. Once the nails are out of the way, you can start removing the damaged board or boards so you can install replacements. The following steps will show you how to do this:

hardwood floors

Step 1. If you’re removing the entire board, you can skip this step and go on to step 4. With a carpenter’s square, draw a line across the section you want to remove.

Step 2. Use an electric drill to drill a series of holes along the lines you drew.

Step 3. Split the board along the lines using a wood chisel. This makes removing the wood easier.

Step 4. Pry the damaged board out. If you use a pry bar to help get it out, place a piece of scrap wood on the surface you’re pressing against with the pry bar so you don’t damage another section of the floor.

If you have to cut and removed sections from multiple boards that are adjacent to each other, make sure that you draw the lines and cut them so that the joint ends don’t line up.

Step 5. Use the wood chisel to square up the ends of the cut boards. The ends have to be smooth and square to install the new flooring. Completely remove any exposed nails with a nail puller or use the nail set to drive them even further into the subfloor.

Step 6. Mark a replacement board so you can cut it to the same length as the one you just removed. Next, cut off the bottom of the groove on the board. Doing this makes it possible to put in one section of board between two others because you can insert the tongue on one side and lower the top groove into place on the other side.

Step 7. Test fit the board to ensure that it fits properly. If it doesn’t, remove it and recut it so it does.

Step 8. Before putting the board in place for the final time, make sure that you apply construction grade adhesive to the back. Then install it. Place a scrap piece of wood on the board and then gently tap it with a hammer to ensure the board underneath adheres.

 

The only thing left is the finish. While it may be very difficult to match the finish of your current floor, it’s a good idea to try this before refinishing the entire floor, which can be time consuming and labor intensive. Tape off the floor boards around the repair and try to match the stain by gradually darkening to match the other boards. Once you have found the color that matches (or is as close as you can get it), apply the finish coat and let dry. Now you have repaired your wood floor yourself and potentially saved yourself quite a lot of money!

 

This guest post is courtesy of MacDonald Hardwoods in Denver, CO. MacDonald Hardwoods features many different hardwood floor types, including bamboo, white oak, hickory, maple and many types of exotic hardwood flooring.

48 thoughts on “How to Repair Hardwood Floors Yourself”

  1. I am going to email this to my hubby because we just pulled up some horrible carpet in the room I converted into my office. The hardwood floors under are gorgeous – I mean yes they could use some repair but otherwise pretty hard wood! There are a few trouble areas so maybe your post can help him! Thanks so much!

  2. I think hardwood floors are absolutely beautiful and I love having them cover the majority of the most active areas of my home. You really gave a great step-by-step guide on how to repair them should the need arise. I must admit I am not the ‘handiest’ of people so I’m not sure I would trust myself to tackle this DIY project…LOL

  3. What a great post, thanks for the tips. I’m going to pass this along to my sister who stated she had some repairs to make to their hardwood floors. They are so beautiful, I’m envious of them.

  4. I love hard wood floors. I would never have thought about repairing them myself though, i’m not really a handy person, But those steps seem quite simple. thank you for sharing.

  5. It sounds so easy while I was reading your instructions, I hope I can do it if ever I have to. Thanks for the detailed tutorial!

  6. Thanks for this post, It is just what I needed. I have just had real wood floor installed for the first time and I have a few issues with it, wood chipping ect. I really need to replace a few boards and did not know how.
    I will be visiting this post again really soon!

  7. My husband is replacing the wood piece by piece on our deck. It is hard work (for him). We have hard wood stairs and I stupidly dragged a laundry basket down and left scratches. My repair was to color it with a wood marker. Love wood floors but they are sensitive.

  8. When we moved here three years ago, the hardwood floors were already so destroyed by the previous owners and their dogs! We’ve been so nervous about doing anything, because of being afraid we can’t afford to repair or replace them. Now I’m starting to learn it CAN be done!
    We’re not very experienced but I believe we can do it.

  9. We have hardwood floors but most of ours have recently been installed and are in great shape. My parents recently sold a home that was over 100 years old with the original hardwood floors and they needed a bit of repair along the way. My Dad is very handy and he did do the repairs himself.

  10. I have a spot on my hard wood floor that needs to be replaced. After reading this i think i might be able to do it myself. I will have to get the supplies i need and try it this weekend.

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