Repairing Floating Hardwood Floors
When it comes to any major repairs the floating floor is the hardest type of them all. Reasons being the floor is not attached to the sub floor 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. This 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.
Set Circular Saw Cut Depth
The first line of attack is setting the circular saw depth just a tad greater than the thickness of the flooring. You’ll want to cut through the entire board by at least a sixteenth of an inch. Reasons being you’ll have to do it all over again if you don’t cut all the way though.
Boards Need To Be Cut Out
The objective in the first step is making perimeter cuts on the boards that have to be removed. The white lines in the illustration below indicate where the circular saw cuts are to be made in this product that measures about seven and a half inches wide. White arrows show the edges of the boards being replaced. It’s important to keep the saw away from those edges. Otherwise we’ll find ourselves removing more boards than we want.
Hammer & Chisel
Considering this was 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 cut out portion of the board by wiggling up and down, but keep a sharp eye on how it may be affecting the good boards that will remain (outside the seams 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.
The original jobsite photo below shows what we’re looking at on a larger scale, considering this was a large repair or in the neighborhood of replacing about 300 square feet due to water damage. Arrows show what we've described above.
Here's a wider view of the layout. Sorry about these pictures. I've tried my best to improve them with Photoshop, but to no avail. Hopefully very soon I'll have a chance to improve this page with a newer repair.
As you can see, it was a sizeable repair that included about a dozen areas or individual rows that required the procedure above.
Bring In The Router & Slot Cutter
Most glued floating floors come apart easier than you would think. 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 you 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. The 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 because the guide bearing above the cutter blade has no reference point to rest against.
Word Of Caution With All Tools - Damages
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 tape, taped to the bottom.
Preparing New Boards To Fit
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 (side joint) on the length and end (end joint) must be removed if you're dealing with a one board replacement. The better method is removing with a table saw. Shown is an example from another repair that dealt with replacing solid boards.
Try more ideas from the solid board replacement.
Gluing In New Boards
Unfortunately there are no pictures of this procedure so hopefully a description will work. 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 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 its 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 this 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.
Expect A Mess!
Unless there are dust containment systems used on the circular saw expect quite a bit of flying dust. See my crafty suggestions discussed at the link below on dust control.
Types of Glue Used
Only water based or glue that can be cleaned off with a damp rag. For larger repairs it’s wise to rinse rags as often as possible, otherwise glue residue will be left behind once your done.