Repair & Care
Weave In New Floors - Kitchen Cabinets Moved
Here's an example of an existing Bruce Natural Choice floor that needed to be weaved (sometimes called tie in) in to cover an area where older kitchen cabinets were removed. Chances are you may not run into this often as many that do extensive remodels typically handle everything at once including the flooring.
Things To Consider. Matching Hardwood
If your existing floor is much older and photo sensitive (changes color with exposure to light) obtaining a perfect match may not be in the cards, unless you can find a highly skilled professional that can blend the new areas to catch up with the ambering effect.¹ Naturally this would have to be an unfinished floor, but does not rule out some prefinished floors. .
The Perfect Repair Job
For repairs that don't look like a repair once they're completed, cutting back each individual strip to it's next adjacent board is the only true method of doing a weave the right way. It may require more time, but in the end you'll swear it wasn't even repaired. We got lucky in this case. The older floor had only been down for twelve months with virtually no color change evident when two boxes of new flooring were brought in.
Considering this is a hardwood floor that was glued to concrete the cut out will be different than that of a nailed floor. Reasons being, glued floors come up in chunks while many nailed floors often come up in a few pieces. Hence the reason for all the vertical cuts across the board face (width).
For any type of cut out you want to remove as much of each board as you can. Not shown is the planning performed as a straight edge was placed on the areas and marked in pencil where the cuts would be made. This insures you have lines to follow and don't accidentally cut into other boards that will prolong the job. Lines were drawn approximately 1/4 of an inch from the actual seam of each board.
For this repair we used a circular saw and set the plunge cut adjustment a tad more than the thickness of the flooring. Anything shallower will just make it harder to remove boards if we haven't broken all the way through the wood itself. No harm will come to the saw or saw blade if it comes into contact with the concrete but it will dull quickly. Of course sparks may fly, so it's wise to shut off any gas appliances you may have. When using this tool make sure the underlying surface that glides along the floor is free of any metal burrs. If in doubt, grab some sanding paper to knock down any metal shavings and/or wrap it in blue masking tape. This will prevent any scratching to the floor itself.
The Worst Part. Removal
Unfortunately there are no actual pictures of this procedure. Essentially you want to begin working from an exposed board end with a hammer and flat pry bar (often called a wonder bar) by driving the bar under the floor and begin prying up very carefully while keeping an eye on adjacent boards that will not be removed. Without doing so you may find you're loosening their grab with the subfloor, and in some cases will damage adjacent boards. By placing some body weight on those areas they should remain affixed.
If you don't have an exposed area to start, a sharp wood chisel can be inserted into some of the vertical cut areas shown. Incidentally, that wood chisel will be used quite often on this job. It's best to have few sharp ones handy or invest in a bench grinder.
Once all the larger pieces are removed it's time for the detailed stuff that also requires removing left over adhesive. Considering we've cut 1/4 of an inch away from the boards that will remain, the next step is carefully removing the small fragments left. Depending on how the job was installed it may be easier than harder. If the installer scooped glue into the grooves, the tongues may not come out. A router and slot cutter will be needed, once you have a planed 90 degree edge to the floor.
Once all affected areas are removed, left over adhesive will have to be removed. A four inch wide flooring scraper works best in the larger open areas, but getting into some of the long cut outs will require a sharp chisel once again. Once the floor is cut out these major preparation tasks are probably the most important part of the job. Check to see if all small bits and pieces or glue is not lodged into the grooves. Use a scrap piece of wood checking for fit.
Those are the basic preparation steps for weaving in new hardwood floors on concrete. The remaining part is fitting pieces into the new area. In the photo shown above you want to begin in the middle in this case, and work left towards the cabinets. For any glue down repair it's also a better idea to dry fit or loose lay a few areas first, insuring you have the proper fit. Otherwise you will find yourself, tools, and the floor covered in glue.
Not all boards will fit back into place perfectly. This is normal. In some cases you will need to cut one side off for it to engage between two end joints. Other times you may not be able to get all the tongue and groove functions to work; it may be necessary to cut the bottom of some grooves off to fit into place, best handled with a table saw. For better fit of end joints a small bevel on the bottom end of the board will allow it to fall into place easier.
This job should really be left up to a professional that knows what he is doing. You may think the carpenter can handle it. Think twice, because I've seen carpenter floor repairs requiring complete do overs.
How Long Did This Job Take?
Total time: 16 hours. The most time consuming part was the removal and prep work involved. Also not shown is some floor patching compound that had to be used against one cabinet area. The original installers actually poured excessive glue into the area as a floor leveler combined with sticks to keep it supported before the glue cured.
Walls Moved. Floor Doesn't Meet?
Going through a remodel and moved a few walls? Chances are good the flooring cannot be extended because they're out of alignment. A simple solution in this scenario could be placing a feature strip or header board in the area to offset the difference.
Other types of similar repairs will be different. Not only is a glued floor more time consuming but this was 2 1/4" wide strip flooring. Wider boards will take less time as will a floating installation providing you have the proper tools and know how.
¹ Some professionals have had success in speeding up the darkening process by exposing any replacement material outdoors in direct sun. Naturally one would have to monitor the process and not let it simply lay outdoors unattended. Several days of exposure has been known to offer a substantial improvement in color.
Added May 6, 2014
View the hardwoodfloorTV video that shows a large weave job:
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