I had recent occasion to work on a 100 year old cabin. It required major construction to make it habitable; one of the projects that fell to me was the repair of three areas of the hardwood floors that the termites had taken a liking to. They had attacked parts of the floors in two different rooms and to different effect; as for the repairs, one site had convenient access and was easy to fix, one had inconvenient access and required replacement of a number of short pieces, and the last site had a hole clean through the floor about 8" in diameter! (Look right.) I'll go through the process -- it was not difficult, but some time-consuming -- so you can see the easy way to do this repair.
Take a look at the gallery to familiarize yourself with the procedure and we'll begin.
First off, safety: you are working in close quarters with a circular saw ("if it'll cut wood, it'll cut you"), so be very careful. A dust mask is good company as are gloves, knee pads, and hearing and eye protection.
Materials: I used flooring that came from the removal of a section of kitchen floor, so no need to buy or match what was existing. Other than that, a small piece of roofing paper was all that was required.
Time: the job took me about 6 hours.
- I adjusted the circular saw "shoe" such that I could cut through the flooring without going deeply into the sub-floor; I measured the thickness of the spare flooring, added a sixteenth of an inch, and began cutting a number of grooves in the bad flooring. Since you have to manually retract the saw blade guard, start the saw, and set the rotating blade down on the wood, be very careful that the saw blade doesn't bounce on the floor and head for your knees at about 50 miles an hour (something on the order of this video, not involving circular saws, of course; I don't believe they lend themselves much to drag racing); I cut an initial bunch of grooves, probably 25 or 30, from one end of the bad wood to the other, being careful not to over-run and groove the good flooring. At that point, I started with the wrecking bar and claw hammer, alternating ripping stuff up (finding old square nails) and re-grooving, until I had all the wood up except the ends under the walls. I then took my hammer and chisel and, again, alternately chiseled the ends and pulled the pieces out; this part was somewhat time-consuming but had to be done to ensure a good fit of the replacement floor.
- I cleaned the debris from the area and made sure that there were no high spots on the sub-floor, so that the new (old) wood didn't protrude above the level of the surrounding floor.
- I then carefully hand-fitted the replacement flooring, marked it, and cut it to exact length.
- Since the floor, when originally installed, was fitted together by joining the tongues and grooves, a replacement piece will not fit into the opening unless you cut the tongue off the side of the wood; so I did that, making sure that I didn't cut into the side of the piece as I didn't want a gap between it and the adjacent board.
- Because two of the three repairs were not in the main flooring area, I didn't use any paper below the replacement pieces, as this would have caused the replacement wood to protrude above the surrounding area.
- I nailed the replacement flooring with brads so that the floor could be easily sanded .
- For the third fix, with the big hole (see the gallery), the floor had been recently supported with new concrete piers, 2 x 10 lumber and floor shims; even given the size of the hole, the replacement flooring easily spanned the opening, so I didn't compromise the integrity of the sub-floor by doing any repairs; I just laid in the roofing paper and replaced the flooring.
The floor is now ready for sanding and finishing; it was a relatively quick repair that saved some really nice old flooring and a lot of money that would have been spent to rip up and replace all the flooring; good for another 100 years! You don't always get an opportunity to do work like this; if you do, take it -- it's good for the soul and you'll get a great feeling of accomplishment. This was classic recycling.
Oh, the winner? The flooring, certainly; the new under-structure now completely isolates the cabin from possible termite attack.
Your turn; find yourself some flooring (or termites) and get to it!