How You Can Patch Hardwood Flooring at Home

Top view of a man installing planks of hardwood floor
Hardwood flooring adds character and beauty to your home. It’s easier to clean than carpet and most people agree that it adds a warmth to the look of a room in a way that carpeted floors just can’t match.

But to maintain that warmth and beauty, your hardwood flooring needs to be properly taken care of.


What do you do when a plank gets chipped, cracked, or damaged in some way?

With a little time, knowledge, and effort, you can patch up your hardwood flooring all by yourself.

But remember, the professionals get paid for a reason. If you want the job done quickly, correctly, and without a trace that there was damage in the first place, don’t be afraid to call in the trained experts.

With our easy-to-follow guide, we’re going to teach you all you need to know about removing your old damaged floorboards and replacing them with new ones, so you won’t even be able to tell any work was done!

We know you can do it! Let’s get started!

How to Patch Your Hardwood Flooring

Before You Begin!

If you want to keep your hardwood flooring from warping and looking terrible, there are a few things you have to do before you make the first cut.


Obviously, you’ll need to measure the boards that need to be replaced so that you can find the appropriate replacement size. Don’t worry too much about the length as you’ll be cutting it down to fit anyway. But make sure you get the width right!

Once you pick up your replacement floorboards, you need to leave it in the room where it will be installed for at least a week.

Each room of your house will vary in heat, pressure, and humidity. If you try to install the boards right away, they’ll shrink or expand as they acclimate to the room and your floor will warp and cause more damage.

1. Mark the Damaged Floorboards

When your new boards have acclimated to the room, use a carpenter’s square to make a line on each of the damaged floorboards where you want to cut them.

Each of the joints where your floorboards meet should be staggered 8 to 12 inches apart from the boards parallel to it.

When you’ve made the lines, use a sharp chisel to cut through the top 1/8th inch of the flooring to mark where the new joint will be.

If you’re removing the whole floorboard piece, you can skip this step.

2. Drill Relief Holes

After you’ve marked the lines where you want to cut the board, drill three half-inch relief holes along each of the marks on the damaged boards to remove the bulk of the wood. This will make it easier to remove the board later.

Next, use a sharp chisel to trim the full edge of the joint, removing the holes and giving yourself and edge to pry the board up.

3. Saw Relief Cuts

Because of the tongue and groove design that locks the floorboard in place, you’ll need to saw two parallel relief cuts an inch apart down the center of the damaged plank.

The blade should only cut about 1/16 inch deep.

Alternatively, you can use a sharp chisel to split the damaged board into two pieces.

4. Remove the Damaged Floorboard

Using a chisel and pry bar, you can remove the center piece of the damaged board that you’ve created. Then you can remove the tongue and groove edges where they interlock with the adjacent planks.

Repeat this process with each of the damaged floorboards, then completely clean and vacuum the area where you’ve removed your hardwood flooring.

5. Cut Your Replacement Strip

Measure your replacement flooring strip to the same length as the one you removed.

You’ll notice that both edges of the replacement strip have a “groove” to interlock with a “tongue.” Cut the bottom side of the groove on one edge to turn it into a tongue.

Test the size of the new plank by inserting it tongue-side first and then lowering the groove side into place. If you don’t remove the bottom part of the groove, you won’t be able to get it to fit past the tongue of the adjacent board.

If your replacement plank doesn’t fit, then remeasure and recut the board.

6. Install the New Floor Plank

Once you’ve made sure that your replacement strip fits properly, remove it and apply wood glue or construction adhesive to the bottom side of the plank and the edges of the grooves.

Replace the new floor plank into position and gently tap it into place with a rubber mallet.

7. Sand and Refinish the Area

Your final step in the process will be to use a fine-grit sandpaper to sand down the area to smooth it until it feels like one solid board.

Then find a stain that will match your old hardwood flooring. Test out the stain on pieces of scrap wood before applying it to your floor so you can get it as close as possible.

If you want to be really meticulous about matching the color, and nothing you’re finding is quite right, then you may have to sand down the whole floor and apply a new finish to the entire thing.

Conclusion

If you’ve followed our guide to patching up your hardwood flooring closely, then you should barely be able to tell you’ve replaced any planks at all.

Mark the old planks with a pencil and chisel before you make your cuts. Then drill relief holes to make it easier to pry out the plank.

Next, use a circular saw to cut straight down the middle of the damaged plank.

After removing your old floorboard, measure and cut your new floorboard to fit into place. Remove the bottom groove so that it locks into place easily.

Make sure the piece fits properly into place, then put down construction adhesive to hold the plank in place, and install!

Hardwood floors are durable, but not invincible. Eventually, it’s going to wear out and need to be patched.

It’s always good to know how to do things yourself, but keep in mind that the tools and materials needed for this project are likely going to cost you more than just calling a professional hardwood flooring service to take care of it for you.

Now that you know how to take care of your hardwood flooring, break out the power tools and get started!