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How to Replace Damaged Hardwood Floorboards

Handy Hubby is taking over today!  He deserves a round of applause for the crummy, frustrating job that was replacing some of the floorboards in our closet (which you saw on Monday had been installed around the closet organizer).  Here’s his explanation of how he did it:

how to replace damaged floorboards

We lucked out because the previous owner had left a box of flooring from the original job.  This saved us having to colour match or try to track down the original brand.  We brought it in the house the day before to acclimatize. More time is usually better though.  Some companies will stipulate a week for the best results.  This ensures the boards don’t gap the day after installation.

I first removed the closet baseboard with a flat pry bar. Some of the paper from the drywall stuck to it from being painted, so it’s a good idea to cut the edge with a knife first.  I was not too worried about keeping the baseboard, as we knew we could replace it with new stuff.  However, if you go slowly you can usually get it off with minimal damage.

After I got the baseboard off I noticed a roadblock.  The hardwood was installed right to the drywall, actually pushing it in slightly.  For those of you that don’t know, wood expands and contracts across its grain as humidity levels change.  For this reason, hardwood floors should be installed with a gap around the sides.  This gap is covered by the baseboard (attached to the wall) and quarter round (attached to the floor).

How to replace hardwood boards

As can be seen from the photos, there is a square of flooring that was located under the old closet fitting.  This was relatively easy to pry up, as it was not pressed into the wall very much and I could pry from each end.  It was also nailed down with smaller nails, as a flooring nailer probably would not fit under the closet fitting.

The rest was a bit harder.  This floor had no gap around the walls, defeating my plan of inserting a pry bar into the wall gap to lift the first board.  I tried for awhile, but began to destroy the drywall. I was actually carving out the drywall in order to raise the board closest to the wall.  This was not going to work.  There was no room for the board to rise vertically.

On to plan B, which is the way I have typically seen it done.  This can also be used for removing boards in the middle of a floor.  I took a circular saw (also referred to as a Skil saw) and set the blade depth to 3/4″, the thickness of the floor board.  I then ran the saw along the length of all the boards, as close to the wall as I could, next to the seam on the board. This basically created a 1/8″ gap and cut the tongue off so the boards were not connected.

Once this was done I was able to start to pry the board from the exposed end where the square was.  Because the board was no longer attached to the one next to it, it was much easier.  I used a flat pry bar and a hammer.

how to replace damaged floorboards

Once the first row, next to the wall, was out, the remainder was much easier. Unfortunately I was not able to save all the boards, but I was not counting on it.  This is where making sure I had enough to do the whole closet beforehand adds to the peace of mind.

how to replace damaged floorboards
Once all the board rows were out I swept the sub floor and removed any nails so the surface was clean.  Using a rubber mallet (to snug the boards into
place) and a 12 gauge air nailer I installed the new boards to complete the floor.  I made sure to leave about a 1/4″ – 3/8″ gap between the
floor boards and the wall to account for swelling, and the next person who wants to take up the floor.  We found nearly identical baseboard, painted it orange, cut it, and installed it once the walls were painted.

bright orange closet interior

Isn’t Hubby handy?!? 

The discovery about the flooring being installed improperly by the former owner, who wedged them tight against the walls, has me worried that we could see problems down the road.  It has me thinking that, in a few years time, when we totally gut the kitchen and re-do the floors in there (and the adjacent laundry room and half bath), maybe we should just install new flooring everywhere in the house so it’s all uniform (save for the entryway and main bathroom, where I’d love a dark grey slate tile).  I’d love to go with something light, maybe a pale grey-tinged bleached oak, with wide planks.  The idea has me lingering in the flooring section of the hardware stores these days.



  1. Kimberley Lillico
    November 13, 2013 / 10:11 pm

    Love those wide plank floors! Do it!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 17, 2013 / 5:37 pm

      They look gorgeous, don't they? I'm so tempted but we'll need to save up first! We've got some time to think about it . . .

  2. Dora
    November 13, 2013 / 11:37 pm

    Your hubby did such a good job at replacing those floor pieces! Love the pics.I'm really into white hard floor lately!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 17, 2013 / 5:37 pm

      I always have preferred lighter floors – I think they show dust less, lol. And now with a white puppy . . . seems like a good option for hiding furballs!

  3. Dana@Mid2Mod
    November 14, 2013 / 12:42 am

    Give Hubby a high-five for me. He's so handy!!!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 17, 2013 / 5:38 pm

      Done and done!! And not a single complaint from him, while I complained about ALL the projects I did – esp. the tile mistake!

  4. Yanna
    November 14, 2013 / 4:04 am

    Just beautiful!I love it so much <3YannaUrbanie

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 17, 2013 / 5:38 pm

      Certainly looks better now!

  5. cred
    November 14, 2013 / 1:53 pm

    He is so handy. This is the kinda job I come across and wonder "how in hell do I fix/repair/replace this?" How is it people know how to do this and I don't. Now I have this trick for hardwood. We sold our house and bought a new one, with hardwood. Hope I don't need this trick.Oooooo, I love the flooring in both those pics.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 17, 2013 / 5:40 pm

      CONGRATS!! I knew you sold yours, but I'm so happy to hear you now found one, too. With hardwood floors – sounds fabulous. Now time for a blog to show us pics 😉

    • cred
      November 21, 2013 / 4:24 pm

      You're funny… I don't have the talent or the time. I get lucky on a few diys but I don't have anything original to offer. My projects are gleaned from blogs- not sure how interesting recycled content is to others. But I sincerely appreciate the inspiration I get from you and other dedicated bloggers. No many of my friends and family read blogs, especially home blogs, so my decor/design seems fresh to them and makes them a perfect audience. Don't think that I could impress so easily in the blogisphere. Btw, I finally made some billy buttons for my bedside table. I did mine in mixed colours and really like it- I did light and dark grey with just a couple of mustard yellow (similar to yours). I make mine with needle felting to avoid 'prune hand'- found out that this method results in 'pincushion finger'. (I jest- it wasn't so bad but I did poke myself a few times)

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 25, 2013 / 12:02 am

      I'm sure you have the talent, but from the sounds of it you are crazy busy!! I think you sell yourself short. The rooms and design decisions you have described don't sound recycled to me. Besides, sometimes a fresh take on something popular is what's needed to make something really special. I certainly find a lot of inspiration "out there" – only a few projects have truly seemed to spring from thin air (normally when I'm avoiding work, lol) – most come from seeing other people's homes, designs, blogs or art.I'm so excited you made billy buttons!! Yup, the pokey method can be a little, pokey. But the pruney hands feel soooo gross.

  6. Anonymous
    November 14, 2013 / 2:57 pm

    Wow, you are so lucky to have such a talented husband. Beautiful job, done with meticulous precision. Very impressive…!Sherry in Fl.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 17, 2013 / 5:39 pm

      Thanks! I passed on your kind words. Luckily Hubby and his Dad had installed the hardwood in the townhouse so a little job like this was totally doable.

  7. Brook
    November 25, 2013 / 3:16 pm

    Beautiful flooring! Do you mind sharing what brand and color the wood is? Thanks!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 25, 2013 / 3:22 pm

      Thanks! I'm not at the lakehouse right now where the box of leftovers is sitting. When I return I'll be happy to let you know the make and colour, but I will tell you it was installed four years ago so it may not be available.

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