Repairing Floating Hardwood Floors


Repairing floating hardwood floors is the hardest type of them all. Reasons being the floor is not attached to the subfloor as they are with glue downs or nailed floors. Absolute precision is needed to insure the tongue and groove go back together in the same vertical plane. Our procedure involves a square edged glued floating floor. Without perfect alignment it will be visible and becomes a sock catcher as board edges will be raised.

Why Did It Need Repair?

Water damage was the cause that affected approximately 300 square feet of this Award glued floating floor. The job entailed removal of many areas along a back slider, plus cutting in and weaving new pieces back into place. The actual cut out is similar to other hardwood repairs in that we used a circular saw to cut back the bad pieces.

The Circular Saw

Planning is the key. First evaluate what areas will be removed and mark with a straight Cutting out damaged boardedge and pencil to be cut out with the circular saw. For these types of floors, our cuts should be about one inch from the seam of each adjacent board that will remain. Photo on the right shows the approximate seams. You want to stay an eighth of an inch away from the seams on all forward motion cuts to the end joint. When planning, set the saw to cut the thickness of the flooring, or in this case 5/8 of one inch.

You may be saying..."well that doesn't make sense, they aren't completely cut and probably will not come out." Once we get to the next step you'll find out how fragile these pieces become.

Hammer And Chisel

Considering once again this is a glue together floating floor, pieces will not fall out as easily as a click together floor. Forgive the quality of the photos, or the actual demonstrations. This repair was done prior to the idea of this site.

You can remove the larger portion of the board by wiggling up and down, but keep a sharpChisel out loose pieces to the center eye on how it may be affecting the good boards that will remain (outside the white line above). Adjacent boards can get damaged easily.

After removal of the larger part of the board our next step calls for carefully wiggling the smaller pieces from their glued position by tapping with a hammer and chisel. Chisel blade must be sharp because it needs to bite into the wood. Tap carefully away from the remaining boards into the center.

Once they feel like they've broken from their glued connection the rest can be pulled out by hand. Once again keep a good eye on the boards that will remain. Any excessive wiggling and they are likely to get chipped on the edges.

Bring In The Router & Slot Cutter

Most glued floating floors come apart rather easily. They are not bonded as tightly as one would see in a wood workers shop when boards are glued and clamped. Exceptions may include an installer who used too much glue. In our case you may run into glue or small pieces of board tongues that may still be glued. Cleaning of these areas is essential if youUsing a router for hardwood floor repair want the new boards to fit into place without looking like a repair.

A slot cutter is used to clean excess debris from the groove and tongue areas. These items can be found online, but do not take care of all the removal. They will clean a groove out in a heartbeat, but sometimes material may hang up under the groove. Our illustration shows cutting under the groove.

Areas above the tongue will have to be scraped carefully by hand with a sharp chisel or utility knife. Reasons being, the guide bearing above the cutter blade has no reference point to rest against.

Word Of Caution With All Tools

Check the underlying plate (face) the tool glides across the surface of the floor on. If they're riddled with nicks and gouges they may actually scratch the surface finish of the floor you're working on. It is best to protect them somehow while still allowing the power tool to glide. Many professionals use blue masking taped to the bottom.

Preparing New Boards To Fit

Sorry folks, no pictures. The general idea is fitting the new boards with the least amount of resistance that can cause damage to boards left in place. The bottom side of each groove on the length and end must be removed if you're dealing with a one board replacement. The better method is removing with a table saw. In our job example we had many large open areas so this does not apply well.

Gluing In New Boards

Apply glue to all areas of the new board. When inserting new boards do so by engaging the tongue into the existing board groove at an angle. Some boards may not go in easily Place weights to glued floor and may require some very careful chamfering on the edges. Once your new board is in place the job does not stop there. It needs time to allow the glue to cure. Clean off any excess glue. Left alone, the glue may actually force the board out of it's desired position.

While using some wax paper underneath, place a flat board over the area and apply weights. The wax paper will prevent any excess oozed glue from sticking to each board.

How Long Does It Take?

While our job is different than replacing one or two damaged boards. A professional with the proper tools can remove and replace one board in 30 minutes to an hour. This does not include bringing tools in or cleanup. Other factors that may contribute to longer times include a subfloor that is not flat, or questionable replacement material that may have been stored in conditions that can alter the dimensions.

Exceptions With Newer Lock & Fold Floors

One exception to the tedious work required to repair floating floors is the newer lock and fold systems. Most, if not all are shorter random length products that are not glued together. Likely to be the most difficult part of repairing the original style was keeping the replacement boards down after glued was applied. A minor dip or rise in the underlying sub floor, or a vertically bowed board would not fit properly with the much longer lengths. Shorter products on the other hand don't have to fight the physics.

Related Pages

Dust Control
Circular Saw
Routers