One of the fixes we have been putting off since we moved in is the floor. The hardwood floors are pretty beat up and tired but since it would be such a huge job to replace or refinish we decided to just live with it. Frankly we have a houseful of dogs that will scratch it up anyway, so why sweat the small stuff… However there is a difference between the lived in character of a few scratches and severe water damage. There were two spots that we knew would have to be fixed.
In the kitchen, right in front of the dishwasher, there were several boards that were badly damaged from a previous leak. Although the leak had been fixed, the damaged boards were pretty unsightly and in a highly visible area. It bothered me to see it every day, multiple times a day. After 10 months I was sick looking at it!
The second spot was the powder room around the toilet. We had guessed that they must have had a leaking wax ring issue in the past, unfortunately we discovered after we moved in that this problem had not been repaired and the issue was ongoing – so gross!
The floorboards are engineered hardwood glued down to the concrete subfloor which means it is a huge pain in the ass to pull up, which is frankly, the main reason we have put it off so long. However we have guests coming for the holidays, which is forcing us to get it done.
Fortunately we found extra matching floorboards in the attic, so this weekend we decided to fix the kitchen.
We started off with chisels and pry bars before remembering the scraper attachment for the reciprocating saw – now that’s working smarter, not harder LOL After popping off the trim, we set to work on the damaged boards. I wish I could tell you it is an easy job with the right tool, but it is not. Lots of elbow grease is required – the further away from the damage you get the tougher the glue is and you have to try not to damage the good boards while you are at it….
I put masking tape along the seams to help protect the boards we wanted to leave in place and Eric went to work ripping up as much as he could. I went in after and did the edge clean up. In order for the new boards to fit cleanly you have to chisel off the tongue of the good boards and clean away any old glue or splinters that make the surface uneven.
I recommend dry fitting the new boards before trying to stick anything down. You don’t have much time to work with the glue. I cut all the pieces I needed with my chop saw, checked the fit and then removed and stacked in order. That way once I put down the glue I could move quickly. The glue goes down with a notched trowel much like installing tile.
After pressing each new board in place like a big jig saw puzzle, I placed masking tape perpendicularly across the new boards. In part to keep them from spreading apart and introducing gaps, but also as a reminder for us where not to walk for a couple days.
While I was working on the kitchen floor, Eric took on the really gross job – the powder room floor. Once the toilet was removed, many blackened boards had to come up – they were smelly and nasty! We actually put a fan on it overnight to make sure the surface had sufficiently dried out before attempting the install of the new boards. In addition using some chlorine bleach to remove any of the mildewy residue helped make sure the problem wouldn’t continue to grow.
Once the surface was completely clean we used the same process to install the new boards. A jig saw is necessary, in addition to the chop saw, for cutting around the toilet.
I highly recommend the gel filled knee pads if you are tackling anything like this – they are lifesavers!
Some of the areas in the powder room meant removing some of the tongue from the tongue and groove boards to fit into the spaces around the existing boards. It is a little tricky but if you have a laser line on your chop saw it makes it much easier – if you don’t have one of your own you can rent tools like this by the day from Home Depot.
Once everything is glued in place just let it dry for a couple days.
All we have left is to replace the trim and the toilet – using a brand new wax seal and we will be done!
No more ugly floors – now on to the next thing on the to do list….