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Question:

We are removing a wall between two wood-floored rooms, as well as a closet and corner hutch. A lot of wood flooring--probably about 30 sq. ft. or more, will be needed to repair the floor. The flooring is probably about 25-50 years old, B grade oak tongue & groove flooring, 2 1/4" wide, and the remodeler says it will be hard, if not impossible, to find flooring to match it with the right t profile. Can you give me any suggestions?

Thank you,

Kay

Answer:



Dear Kay

I find it funny that your re-modeler said that this size and grade of oak flooring is hard or impossible to obtain. As long as you are talking about 3/4" deep by 2 1/4" tongue and groove red or white oak floor, this is just about the most common and easily obtained hardwood flooring in North America. I've got my eye on 5-6 pieces of this wood as I speak, scraps and sample boards, I use this stuff ALL the time. Maybe they just want to sell you a new floor, ya think ?

Anyway, it's not such an easy repair, and most carpenters don't have the years of experience to deal with this sort of thing. Oh, and first there is no such thing as B grade. There are about 4 grades of hardwood. The top grade is clear and select quarter sawn. The next is select and select and better. And the last two grades are Common #1 and finally Common #2. What I have found in my 25 years in the business is that a lot of dark and mineral streaked boards that used to (20 years ago) be included in the Common grades is now a great part of the Select grades. So I find that can use a Select grade Oak to repair an old oak Common grade floor, by just choosing the darkest pieces in the new wood bundles. So first here is a picture I just took of the oak flooring grades as set out by a trade organization called NOFMA.

Once you have selected the grade that most closely matches your old floor, the next problem you might have is to repair the rooms so the floor appears to be one room. If you are very lucky the two floors will have been installed in line with each other. Use a string line and stretch it across the two rooms right on the seams of the boards and see if they line up reasonably well. They may start in alignment at first, but you will find that the farther the rows go into the room, the more out of line they become. If both rooms happen to be in perfect alignment you can repair the floor, by staggering in the new floor, as described in my repair article in the Hardwood Authority section of this site, and illustrated by this picture.

But as is often the case, the two floors are only half out of alignment, there are two solutions to this. One is to remove about half the wood flooring from one of the far section of one of the rooms. Remove it carefully prying the tongue side of the boards just under the blind nails. Choose the quarter section (of the new big room) that is most out of line. Clean up the boards and re-install the old flooring by staggering the joints with the new floor, as they should be exactly the same size.

If that all sounds daunting there is a easier and quite neat way of installing a "header" piece all the way across the opening of the two floors. Set a fine bladed circular saw ( we have specialized plunge cutting saws for this) and using a straight board as a saw guide cut two lines a right angles on the ends of both floors. Make sure the two cuts are parallel with each other and are a little less that a multiple of 2 1/4" apart. Install the new wood in this channel at right angles to the old floor, and Bob's your uncle. Here's some more illustrations.

This last repair was done to a re-modeled closet and once sanded and stained and finished, it came out quite neat, and was a economical and interesting way to fix the floor.

You may also find these articles helpful:

1. Installing Hardwood Floors On Concrete Slabs

2. Avoiding Squeaks And Pops When Nailing Down A New Strip Floor

3. Parquet Flooring

4. Plank And Strip Flooring

5. How To Take Care Of Your Health And Safety when Installing, Finishing, Repairing or Cleaning your wood floors