How to Patch a Wood Floor

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:
Well a few days ago I made this entryway into the dining room a little bit wider.  And in doing so, I exposed some flooring right down here that is in pretty rough shape compared to the flooring around it.  So I know I'm going to have to replace at least two boards.  Now before I start performing surgery on my hardwood floors right here, let's just take a look at how a typical flooring system like this works.

This is three quarter inch thick solid oak, tongue in groove. A groove has been milled on this side and a tongue on this side.  Now when this is put down, typically it's nailed right through  the base of the tongue. The nail goes through at an angle.

You can see it sticking out right down here. And then the groove of the next board just slips right over that tongue. The result is there are no nails visible on the surface which is great.  Gives you a good looking floor.

But it makes it a little tough to take one or two pieces out.  In fact, the only way I know to do it is to actually split pieces by cutting right down the center. And that's what I'm gonna do. 

I'm setting the blade depth on the circular saw just deep enough to cut through the flooring.  This is called a plunge cut and it should be done very cautiously.  With the saw running, I lower it slowly until the base plate is resting firmly on the floor.

Then push the saw forward.  To make the end cuts, I first score a line using a utility knife.  Then set the edge of a chisel into the hollow groove left by the knife blade. Using a series of straight and angled chisel cuts, I can slice quickly and neatly all the way through the plank.

With the end cuts made and the board cut down the middle, I can now begin prying it out. Once the first piece is removed, the rest comes more easily.  Well I've gotten those two boards out fairly cleanly. Very happy with the way that turned out. So that takes care of the hole right here because we'll replace those in a little bit.

Now though, I've gotta resurface this part of the floor that was up underneath the old wall. And I think the best tool for this is gonna be a belt sander.  Since my main objective right now is to remove material, I'm using a rather coarse belt.

60 grit in this case. This is cleaning up very nicely.  I've gotten to the point now where I can put in thnose 2 pieces of wood that were damaged and I had to remove.  Now you notice, the only way I'm gonna get this in because of this groove is to cut off the bottom half of this groove right here.

And that will allow this piece just to drop in.  I've set the table saw blade just high enough to make the cut I need.  Next I'll mark the length of the board.  And cut it to size on the miter saw.  Okay, see if we've got a fit going here.

I repeat the process for the second board. Give everything a few taps and - now that's what I call a good fit.  Even if I do say so myself. Now because of the way we put this down, it's not possible to edge nail it through the tongue.

The only choice is to  face nail it.  And that's what I'm doing right now.  Now one of the trickiest parts of the flooring repair job like this is touching up or matching the finish.  Now if you look over here at this section of the floor, you'll see that this an oak floor.

And that all the boards really are different colors and different grain patterns.  And I'm going to use that to my advantage.  Because if I can break the finish, that is the break between the old finish and the new finish, along the edge of a board like this or at the end of a board like this, the eye is really not gonna notice the difference,

Because there's so much natural variation. So I've taken the finish off this board, this one, this one and this done. Now this one I haven't you see.  I sanded back to here. What I want to do now is remove the finish back to this joint right here.

Now, there’s kind of an interesting history to floor scraping, actually.  Back in the 19th Century, this was about the only way to get a finish off the floor, as a matter of fact, there is a very famous Impressionist painting called “The Floor Scrapers.”  Thankfully for us, along came sandpaper and big machine sanders.  Otherwise, this would be pretty tough work, refinishing your floors.

Now that worked out pretty well over there.  I had a short board in here, joints on both ends.  On this board however, I really don't have a joint until way down here and I don't want to take that much finish off. So in this case, I'm going to create a joint.

Or at least the illusion of one by taking a straight edge like this.  Then I scrape off the finish right up to the line.  Now all I haVe to do is fill the nail holes, do a final hand sanding with a small block and fine paper.

Remove the dust with a tack cloth.  And I'm all set to apply a new finish to the boards. Now these floors were refinished not too long ago and they probably used a clear polyurethane. But I'm afraid if I  put a clear finish back on top of this, I won't get a really good match.

And why?  Because most finishes over time do tend to yellow. And I think this one has a little bit.  If I put the polyurethane on, I think they're gonna be too light. So I'm gonna adjust the color just slightly by taking some shellac and I've added a lot of alcohol to this so it's very dilute.

And I'm going to brush on kind of a tinting or a toning coat and I think it's gonna tie these boards in so that they'll match a little ,more closely.  The shellac dries quickly.  In just a few minutes, I can applying the polyurethane.

A foam brush works nicely when cutting in a small area like this.  Okay, I'll let this dry, give it a light sanding, put on one more coat and  nobody is gonna know that that patch was made right there.  Except of course for you and me.

Repair a Hole in an Oak Tongue and Groove Floor and Finish the Patch to Match in Color and Gloss

Patch small holes and imperfections in oak tongue and groove hardwood flooring and its finish to invisibly repair damage or unsightly areas. Whether the blemishes are from wear and tear or through-and-through holes revealed through remodeling, replacement tongue and groove planks can be cut, shaped and installed in staggered design to match the irregular pattern and tone of original flooring.

Split Planks for Removal by Plunge-cutting with a Circular Saw
Step 1

Split Planks for Removal by Plunge-cutting with a Circular Saw

Split only the damaged planks in the hardwood floor restoration area to facilitate their removal. Set the circular saw blade just deep enough relative to the saw's base plate to cut through 3/4 inch flooring and make plunge cuts.

Score and Chisel-cut the Ends and Pry out Split Planks
Step 2

Score and Chisel-cut the Ends and Pry out Split Planks

Score each end of the damaged planks with a utility knife and straight-edge. Make straight and angled cuts with a hammer and chisel along the scores to loosen the planks. Pry out split planks without stressing the adjacent boards.

Sand Damaged Flooring with 60-Grit Sandpaper and a Belt Sander
Step 3

Sand Damaged Flooring with 60-Grit Sandpaper and a Belt Sander

Resurface the rough and unsightly hardwood floor repair area only. Avoid scuffing adjacent undamaged areas. Use a fairly coarse sandpaper, 60-grit for this hardwood floor restoration, on a small belt sander and work in the direction of the wood's grain.

Remove Part of Groove so that Planks Drop into Position
Step 4

Remove Part of Groove so that Planks Drop into Position

Cut replacement planks for the patch to length. Adjusting table saw blade to remove the bottom portion of each plank's grooved side to allow it to drop in rather than fitting on the tongue. Tap with a mallet to seat.

Face-nail with a Pneumatic Nail Gun to Secure Replacement Planks
Step 5

Face-nail with a Pneumatic Nail Gun to Secure Replacement Planks

Secure the new planks by face-nailing them with a pneumatic nail gun. Edge-nailing through the tongue is impossible because the planks were adjusted and dropped into place rather than fitting them with their original tongue and groove design.

Sand within Edges of Target Planks Prior to Refinishing
Step 6

Sand within Edges of Target Planks Prior to Refinishing

Sand/scrape planks with the grain. Confine resurfacing efforts to individual planks, shortening their apparent length by scoring false joints to avoid reworking an entire board. Blend the repair into the natural variation of the floor's color and grain.

Fill Nail Holes and Sand Again with Fine Paper
Step 7

Fill Nail Holes and Sand Again with Fine Paper

Fill nail holes with wood putty stained to match. Perform a final sanding with a block and fine sandpaper, staying within the borders of the target planks. Remove dust with a tack cloth

Consider the Logistics of Matching the Original Finish
Step 8

Consider the Logistics of Matching the Original Finish

Determine how to apply a finish that matches the original in color and sheen. Clear polyurethane yellows and darkens with age, so we have diluted shellac in alcohol and brushed on a light toning coat to approximate the aged color.

Apply a Top Coat of Polyurethane to Seal the Repair
Step 9

Apply a Top Coat of Polyurethane to Seal the Repair

Top-coat the repair with clear polyurethane to seal the planks and add gloss and durability. A cheap foam applicator works well on the narrow individual planks to avoid coating adjacent boards. Discard the foam applicator when the project is complete.