How to Repair Hardwood Floors Yourself

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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.

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