LESLIE: Listening in New Jersey on WABC we’ve got Grace. How can we help you?
GRACE: We have a house that’s about 120 years old and we moved into it four years ago. Just before we moved into it the house had had a fire. And they had restored the house but they preserved some of it. The hardwood floors on the first floor have these huge cracks in between the panels on the floor; the boards. And they had, at one point, finished them and put, it looks like, plastic wood or something in between but a lot of that …
GRACE: … [wiped out] (ph). And so we have these – it’s a very big floor. It spans over three rooms and there are large cracks that you can probably fit maybe one or two quarters in between. Is there any way I can like save the floor?
TOM: If you have a strip floor like that, it’s not designed to have a filler in between. It’s just not. Because each one of those boards is moving and the – anytime you put filler in between it’s going to expand and contract and, you know, kind of chunk up and fall out. You know, generally, those gaps are really sort of, I hate to say it, part of the charm of having the hardwood. If you’re looking for a floor that has no gaps in it, then you’re going to have to replace that.
GRACE: Right. But as far as the really big gaps, there’s really – other than just leaving them be there’s nothing I can do about it?
TOM: Well, if you replace sections of the hardwood floor and you’re able to, you know, restore the floor to closer to the way it was when it was originally installed, that’s an option. I had, for example, in my home we had – when we bought this house there was carpet all over the first floor. And we pulled it up we – no, we did find good news. We found gorgeous hardwood floors. The bad news was in the areas around the doorways it had completely worn so badly that you could almost – there was almost no tongue and groove left and the boards were really gapped. So we took up large sections of it but because the floor was so old, I actually had to physically make the hardwood – the new hardwood boards out of stock lumber. I had to physically plane them with the tongues and the grooves to match them in size because they actually were not available.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) So that you can match them to the size.
TOM: So I was able to make it myself, you know, using a table saw and a router and so on.
TOM: But you can replace boards in that way and if it’s some, you know, certain sort of limited areas of the room, it’s possible to do that. But short of that kind of a serious repair, it’s either live with it or replace it, Grace.
GRACE: OK. Thanks.
TOM: (chuckling) Thanks you think, right? (laughing)
GRACE: (laughing) No, not really. (laughing) But can you pull up one board at a time or do you have to do a whole section at a time?
TOM: Well no, you could pull up a couple of boards at a time and the way you would do that is you take a circular and cut that board in half and then it would come up [in pieces] (ph) so the board you want to replace you’d cut with a circular saw.
GRACE: And what the renovators did by putting that plastic wood in between the cracks, that was not a good thing?
TOM: Absolutely not.
LESLIE: And it’s only a temporary fix because eventually it’s going to break up or fall apart.
TOM: It’s a big maintenance hassle that they caused you by doing that.
GRACE: And that’s what’s happened here.
TOM: Yeah, it’s just – it was a completely inappropriate thing to do.
GRACE: OK. Well. (laughing) (inaudible)
TOM: Better luck next time, Grace. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.