How to Repair Wooden Flooring
Timber flooring may deteriorate as the boards age and develop faults. Many faults are repairable, but sometimes one or more floorboards will need to be replaced.
Over time, wooden floorboards can develop a number of faults. They may become loose, cracked or damaged, and they can develop rot. They may also warp or ‘cup’ (curl up at the edges), meaning they no longer provide a flat surface. All these faults need to be dealt with, whether you are keeping the floor as bare floorboards or covering it with some other material.
A loose floorboard is likely to be noisy when someone walks over it. The cause is usually that the wood has worn and/or the nail has rusted, so that nothing is holding the board in place. Another likely reason is that a plumber or electrician hasn’t fixed the boards back properly after lifting them. Either way, the answer is to pull out the nail and replace it with a screw – preferably a non-rusting type like brass or zinc-plated – but only if you intend to carpet, as it would look out of place if you sand the old boards.
As floorboards wear, the nails can sit proud of the surface. The crude method of solving this problem is to hit them with a hammer, but you can easily damage the surrounding wood. It is better to use a good size of nail punch, or a squared-off nail, so that your hammer blow is directed only at the offending nail.
A squeak may occur where one floorboard rubs against its neighbours as it moves slightly when you tread on it. A simple answer is to brush some talcum powder in between the boards in the area of the squeak until the noise has stopped.
Filling Cracks and Gaps
A split or small hole in a floorboard can be filled with wood filler or wood stopping, which comes in a variety of colours. If you can’t get exactly the colour you need to match the surrounding wood, mix a couple of colours together – one darker, one lighter – until you get it right. Large gaps between floorboards (which let in draughts and dust) can be filled with slivers of wood shaped to fit the gap and glued into place. For this, take up a floorboard from elsewhere in the house so that the age and colour matches the gappy floor. Cut this board into long wedge-shaped strips, apply glue to each side and tap into the gap with a mallet or wood block and hammer. Leave overnight to dry and trim off the excess carefully with a sharp chisel, then sand and polish the floor as normal, without the icy draught blowing up your trouser legs! If you want to be really clever and contemporary, you could use a contrasting timber like mahogany to make the strips!