Replacing a Damaged Floor Board

Sometimes a hardwood board can be damaged or stained so badly it needs to be replaced. Often people would prefer to leave this job to a professional  who has the experience to do the job, but since there are no special tools required to replace a floor board, a confident DIY'er could take on the job themselves. Here's how to remove and replace a damaged hardwood floor board.

Removing the damaged board

  • The damaged board is held in place by interlocking tongues and grooves on its sides and ends so you can't just pry it up, you need to split the board and then remove the pieces.
  • Either drill a series of holes along the length of the board to be replaced or make two saw cuts 3/4 of an inch in from the edge of the board. Most hardwood flooring is 3/4" thick and you don't want to drill or cut into the sub floor so set you saw depth to 3/4". Avoid damaging adjacent floor boards by covering the bottom of your saw with tape and putting cardboard down around where you will be working.
  • After splitting the board, use a wood chisel or a pry bar to remove the center of the old board, then pull the two remaining side pieces into the middle (working away from the good floor boards) and lift them out. Finally, remove or sink the original fasteners that held the board in place.

Replacing the board damaged board

  • If you don't have a replacement board left from the original installation, you need to get a replacement board and finish it to match the floor.
  • Measure and cut your replacement board to length. (Your replacement board will have a tongue and a groove on opposite ends and a tongue and groove on opposite sides so, first cut off the tongue end, ensuring your saw cut is vertical).
  • You also need to remove the bottom groove on the side, and cut the bottom the board on a 45° angle along the bottom edge.You can make this cut using a table saw or even a sharp wood chisel and a hammer. Having the bottom cut on an angle will make it easier to slide the replacement board into position.
  • Test fit your replacement board ensuring it fits nice and tight lengthwise. You may need to sand/angle the bottom of the ends a little so they will slide into position easier.
  • Once you're sure the replacement board fits, put it into the opening by sliding the grooved end of the replacement board over the tongue end of the existing board and the replacement board tongue side into the groove on the in place floor board. The flat end and the side with half a groove should slide into place but you may need to use a rubber mallet and a piece of scrap wood to "persuade" it into position.
  • Finish replacing your floor board by face nailing it then counter sinking the nails and filling the holes with matching colored wood putty.

Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer whose work has appeared on numerous web sites, in newspapers and books in both the US and Canada. He is often cited as an expert on home related topics.