Repair a Buckling Hardwood Floor
LESLIE: Mitch in Tyler, Texas, who is a repeat caller here at The Money Pit or should we say addicted do-it-yourselfer? Mitch, what can we help you with this time?
MITCH: I think addicted do-it-yourselfer is probably a better selection.
Here’s what’s going on. I live in a two-story, pier-and-beam house. It’s about 95 years old. We have some buckling going on now in our master bedroom, which is on the first floor, under the wood floor. And I want to know, first, what – how can I go about trying to match that wood flooring so that I can replace just the part that’s buckling and not have to redo the whole thing? And then, secondly, what may be causing it to buckle like that?
TOM: Is this a prefinished floor or is it hardwood – raw hardwood – that was finished?
MITCH: I think it’s raw hardwood that was finished.
TOM: OK. Alright. So, the first part of the question is how do you pull out the bad stuff? What you basically do is you take a circular saw – I assume you’re handy, because it’s going to take somebody that’s pretty handy to do this.
TOM: But you take a circular saw and you plunge-cut – set the depth to the same thickness of the floor – and you plunge-cut into the bad boards and you take a couple of rips down as opposed to a cross-cut. You cut with the grain down through the bad boards and then you chisel them out at some point and start lifting them out. And so the plunge-cuts actually help to loosen that up; you can actually cut right through the joints, so you’re cutting through the tongue and the groove of the bad boards. So you’re loosening that up, you’re pulling those boards out and then you’re going to put new pieces in.
Now, you may have to cut off – if it’s like a tongue and a groove – on the groove side, you may have to cut off the bottom of the groove so you can build this from the top down. You may have to place new pieces of wood in that way.
Now, when you do that, it is going to be slightly different in color. I don’t know if this is stained or finished but even if it’s just a plain, clear coat of finish, there will be slight difference in color. It’s going to take …
LESLIE: Well, just because of wear.
TOM: Well, not so much wear, I think, but color. It usually takes six months to a year for them to fade back in to where they’re invisible again. But you can use a throw rug or something in the meanwhile.
Now, in terms of why it buckled, typically it buckles when the floor gets wet or if it was pulled in with not enough space around the outside edge and it just got humid and it just pressed into each other. That’s typically why it buckles.
MITCH: So if I have – if it’s buckling, let’s say, because it’s wet, then I probably need to go underneath and there may be another problem I’m going to have to fix then, too, right?
TOM: Maybe not. I mean it could have just happened because of a one-time saturation or it just might, again, have been put in too tight.
MITCH: OK, great. Well, I did want to make a comment on when I called you guys last time.
TOM: Yeah? OK. How did it work out for you?
MITCH: Well, I don’t know if you recall, I called and said that I had the fascia board on my roof was coming off and I had the electrical power line hooked onto that.
MITCH: And I asked you guys what I needed to do before the power line pulled it off and you all said, “Well, call your electric company. It’s going to cost you some money,” and all that stuff. Well, I happened to be – [monitor company] (ph) – we’re in a co-op in the area I live in in Texas.
MITCH: Well, I went down and told them about it. They came up that same day, fixed it. They replaced the fascia board, even, for me and didn’t charge me a thing.
TOM: Wow. That’s great.
LESLIE: Oh, that’s fantastic.
MITCH: They said that the co-op members didn’t. It was nice but it kind of surprised me. I thought, “Man, I’ve got to call you guys and let you know.”
TOM: Alright. Well, that’s fantastic, Mitch.
MITCH: Alright. Well, thank you. Love your show.
TOM: Glad to hear it. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.