How to Replace a Flooring Board

Watch our step by step video about how to replace one board in a floor.

Do you need to replace a single flooring board?

We get it.. accidents happen and so does life, but what’s to do when wear and tear happens– like water damage, unfixable scratches, and gouges. It’s frustrating to see a beautiful floor with that one eyesore of a board.

Watch the video for a step-by-step tutorial that’ll provide the tools and know-how to solve the problem yourself.

Why Should I Take Time To Replace One Bad Board?

Simple: It’s a quick repair that costs you little to no money depending the tools you already own. You won’t regret taking the time to remove that ugly board and restore your floor’s beauty.

Tools you’ll need:

  • Replacement board
  • Circular saw or Track saw
  • Chisel
  • Mallet
  • Pry bar
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Blade/Knife
  • Scraper
  • Wood flooring glue
  • Vacuum
  • OPTIONAL: Nail gun & wood filler
  • OPTIONAL: Multi-tool

Step 1: Choose Your Replacement Board

Before you begin cutting into your floor, make sure you have a replacement board pre-selected. This board should be the identical size of the board you’re taking out for a prefinished floor. If you’re working with solid flooring, you’ll want to select a board longer than the piece you’re replacing because you will cut it to fit the space.

Tip: Why We Recommend A Track Saw

In our video, we used a Makita track saw to cut out the damaged board. If you don’t have access to a track saw, a circular saw will get the job done. However, there are several benefits to using a track saw for replacing a board:

  1. DUST CONTAINMENT – Attach a vacuum to catch saw dust, leaving you with less to clean up.
  2. ABILITY TO SET SAW DEPTH –  Adjust the depth of the cut and ensure you cut out your board without causing damage to the subfloor.
  3. TRACK FOR THE SAW TO FOLLOW – Get a straight, precise cut.
  4. TRACK PREVENTS SCRATCHING – Prevents you from scratching other boards while you work.
Person using a track saw
If you anticipate needing to do many board replacements, consider investing in a track saw for your repairs!

Step 2: Find the Tongue’s Position

Take a look around the edge of the floor to determine which way the tongue is pointing. You may have to remove a base board to do this, which can be a pain. But, it’s crucial to know the position of the tongue before you cut.

Step 3: Adjust Depth of the Cut

To get the right depth and avoid scratching the other boards, place your saw on the replacement board and use the board as a gauge for depth. Lower your saw down until it touches the board you’re replacing. Adjust your depth settings accordingly. Now your saw is set to cut the exact depth you need to remove the board without cutting into the subfloor.

Step 4-5: Mark Your Cuts & Make Cut #1

The first cut to make is along the tongue side of the board. Our goal is to cut through all the staples or fasteners in that piece of flooring.

Keep in mind that the thinner the material is, the closer to the tongue you’re going to cut. For example, if working with thicker flooring, such as a 3/4″, cut further away from the tongue. However, the material in the video is thinner, so we marked the first cut about 3/8″ to 1/4″ from the side of the board.

Graphic showing where to mark the first cut in replacing a board in a floor
For your first cut, make a mark 3/8″ to 1/4″ off the tongue side of the board.

After you’ve made your marks, position the saw for the first cut on the tongue side of the board. If you bump or nudge it, double check that your saw has not moved off its mark. Once you have it properly positioned, go ahead and make your first cut!

Step 6-7: Make Cut #2 & Cut #3

For our second cut, cut along the backside of the board. This cut does not have to be as precise as the first. After that, make a third cut diagonally across the board between the first and second cuts. This will help you remove the board in the next step.

Step 8-10: Chisel Corners, Remove Board, & Chisel Edges

With all of your cuts completed, you’re ready to remove the board from the floor.

Loosen the corners of the board with your chisel and mallet. Once loose, use a chisel and pry bar on the cuts to pull the two triangular pieces of the board out from the floor. Be careful to not pull the boards up too far as you’re removing it, otherwise you could tear off the tongue or groove of the adjacent boards.

After both pieces of the board are removed, use a chisel to break and remove all the edge pieces that were on the other side of your cut. When possible, use a dull tool to avoid damaging other boards. If there are any staples or fasteners you missed, cut them with a multi-tool.

Step 11: Clean and Prep Subfloor

Before gluing the replacement board in place, clean the subfloor. Remove the underlayment with blade and knife to reveal the subfloor. With a wood scraper, scrape it down to the raw subfloor.

Vacuum up all the shavings and remove all potential obstructions. A clean area will allow your replacement board to be flush with the rest of the flooring.

Step 12-13: Make Cuts On New Board & Dry Fit Into Floor

In order to fit your replacement board in the floor, make a couple modifications to the board. First, cut off the tongue on the end as well as the the bottom groove around the entire board.

Once your cuts are made, dry fit the board into the hole to ensure it fits and your cuts are all properly done. Check that it’s flush with the existing floor. Carefully take the board out of the hole.

Step 14: Glue Board to Subfloor

Before gluing, make sure you are using adhesive specifically made for hardwood flooring. Apply the glue around the edge of the board first, followed by a zig-zag pattern down the middle of the entire board.

Carefully reinsert the board into the space. If only using glue, add weights on top of the board for overnight or until the glue dries. Depending on the flooring type, you can also nail the board into the floor. Keep in mind if you use a nail gun, fill the nail holes with wood putty.

Graphic showing how to apply glue on a flooring board in a zig zag pattern
When gluing the board, apply the glue in a zig zag pattern to give it the strongest hold going back into the floor.

And you’re done! You’ve successfully taken that ugly, damaged board out and replaced it like a pro!

Have any other damage on your floor and want to try your hand at repairs? Check out our Youtube channel! We have several How-To videos including:

Fix A White Flooring Scratch:

How To Fix A Chipped Wood Floor:

Quick Fix For Squeaky Floors With WD-40: