Q&A / 

Replacing Single Pieces of Warped Hardwood Floor

Tom P. who lives down south, who has the patience of Job, emailed me just before Christmas, 2013:

"I have something I need to fix.  We bought our house 2 1/2 yrs ago and it was built in 2005.  Our entry way and dining area have hardwood floors, suspended of course because we live in North Mississippi and the houses are built on slabs.

I have one board, in the middle of the floor by the front door that is, well, warping and raising.  All of the boards all the way around it are fine.  My first thought was moisture, but all the boards around it look fine and there are some surface areas where II can poke my finger into some small holes.  I think it is just a bad board and needs to be changed."

Here's a photo of the problem:

It's tough to see the warping, so we need to believe it's there. Photo credit: Tom P.

It's tough to see the warping, so we need to believe it's there. Photo credit: Tom P.

 

Here's my answer to Tom:

Tom, it's absolutely possible to take out an interlocked piece of tongue and groove hardwood flooring. With respect to making such a repair completely invisible once done, I'd say this job's degree of difficulty is about 9.8 on a scale of 1 to 10.

In other words, you're deep in professional territory, and not just any professional, a true hardwood floor craftsman who has years and years of experience doing such repair work.

Cutting out the bad piece of flooring requires you to cut away the center core of the damaged piece of flooring without harming any of the adjacent pieces of flooring. This is very tough to do and requires great lighting, sharp tools and deft hand-eye coordination.

With the center of the wood out of the way, you can then start to get out the long pieces, one of which will be nailed to the subfloor. In your case I imagine they have wood sleepers on top of your concrete slab.

Once the bad piece is out, then you have to install a new piece that's the exact size of the old one in width, length and height. Remember, your existing floor was sanded and the new piece you install must be the same height. Good luck with that. You can't sand it in place or you'll ruin the adjacent pieces.

To install the new piece, you need to cut off the bottom of the groove along the two grooved edges. You also need to cut off the small tongue on the narrow edge.

Once installed, you need to secure the piece of wood. You can glue it to the subfloor or glue and face nail it with small finish nails.

Are you discouraged yet?

If you successfully have it installed, now you have to match the stain color and clear finish.

This will really test your skills.

Bottom Line: The warped piece will probably look ten times better than any repair you initiate yourself. My guess is you're the only one who knows the defect is there. Any visitors would probably think the wood appearance is normal.

I'd leave it alone if it were me.

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