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Tool Rentals for the DIY Weekend Warrior:
Patching Damaged Floorboards

by Joseph Truini

Also available for rent are various types of portable power tools, like drum sanders, orbital sanders, buffers, polishers, hard-surface cleaning machines and pneumatic nailers and air compressors, which you'll need to tackle a very common DIY wood-floor project: repairing a damaged floorboard. The techniques described below are effective for most types of tongue-and-groove flooring, especially traditional hardwood strip.

To make the repair, you'll need a cordless drill/driver, portable circular saw, power plane (or hand plane) and random-orbit sander. Here's how to patch a damaged floorboard:

  1. Start by chucking a 1-inch diameter spade bit into a cordless drill or driver. Then, bore two holes through the damaged floorboard, positioning the holes about an inch from each end of the board.
  2. Adjust the depth of cut on the circular saw to equal the thickness of the floorboard, which is typically ¾ in. Next, execute two plunge cuts along the length of the damaged floorboard from one hole to the other. Pry out the center section of wood with a thin flat bar.
  3. Use a hammer and chisel to carefully chop and pry out the remaining pieces of the damaged floorboard. The tongue edge will be nailed in place, so it'll come out in bits and pieces. Pull out the nails with a hammer or locking pliers. Vacuum the area clean of all wood dust and splinters.
  4. Use the circular saw or miter saw to crosscut a new floorboard to length, making it about 1/16 in. shorter than necessary.
Tool Rental Tip: Before leaving the rental center, carefully inspect the power cords and plugs on all electric trools. Check the cord for any damage such as cracks, slits or exposed wiring. Confirm that the prongs on the plug aren't bent or broken. If the plug is supposed to have a third grounding prong, be sure it's intact and not missing.
  1. Set the new floorboard face down and use the circular saw to rip off the lower lip from its grooved edge. Test-fit the board into the floor. If it's a bit too wide, trim one edge with a power plane or hand plane.
  2. Apply a bead of carpenter's glue along the exposed tongue on the adjacent floorboard. Then, install the new floorboard by slipping its tongue into the groove of the floorboard on the opposite side.
  3. Press the new floorboard down flush with the surrounding floorboards. The tongue edge will be locked in place by the groove of the adjacent floorboard, but you'll need to face-nail the new floorboard along its opposite edge.
  4. Drill 3/32-inch diameter pilot holes along the grooved edge of the new floorboard; space the holes 8 to 10 in. apart. Then secure the board with 2½-inch (8d) finishing nails. Tap the nail heads below the surface with a hammer and nail set. Fill the nail holes with wood putty.

Rent an orbital sander to remove imperfections on wood surfaces

  1. Once the putty dries, use a random-orbit sander (above) and 100-grit abrasive to sand the new floorboard flush with the surrounding flooring and smooth imperfectioins.
  2. Wipe away the sanding dust with a damp cloth. If the existing floor is stained, wipe the same color stain on the new floorboard. If the flooring is unstained, then just apply two coats of polyurethane varnish.

Read more rental tool tips in these informative articles:

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About the author: Joe Truini is a home improvement expert who writes about a variety of topics related to carpentry and plumbing. Joe is also the author of numerous DIY books, including the best-selling "Building A Shed". To learn more about renting tools like those referenced by Joe, please visit the Home Depot website. All photos courtesy of Joe Truini or Makita.