Steps on How to Fix a Chipped Wood Floor
You don’t have to replace an entire floorboard to fix a small chip or gouge. Instead, re-patch it with the chipped piece of wood, or as Tom demonstrates here, patch it by making a Dutchman from a new piece. Follow his advice and you’ll get expert results.
1. Select the Patch Material
Find a scrap of wood of the same species as the flooring—in this case, Tom used a leftover piece of unstained pine flooring.
2. Drill and Glue
- Drill a hole through the chipped part of the floor using a countersink bit. Drop a little bit of water in the hole, then add some polyurethane glue.
- Drive a screw through the hole, securing the floorboard back to the floor.
- If you saved the chipped piece of the floor, you can glue it back on the floor with wood glue. Be sure to cover all the exposed wood with glue before re-securing the patch.
- Wipe off any excess glue on the patch with a wet rag.
3. Dutchman Secrets
If you don’t have the chipped piece or it doesn’t fit back into the hole perfectly, you’ll need to make a Dutchman. Examine the floorboard and find a section of it that matches the grain around the rest of the floorboards near the chip.
- Match the grain, not the stain. Choose a patch of the same wood as the flooring, with a similar grain pattern.
- Make the mortise fit the patch, not the other way around. It’s the smart way to get a tight fit.
- Plane a slight bevel into the patch’s bottom edges. The patch will then slide easily into the mortise and still fit tightly.
- Don’t sweat matching the floor stain. You can get the patch color to be close, but a perfect match? Not likely!
Shown: Tom Silva explains how to select a patch that will blend in with the existing wood grain.
Inset: The new patch fits seamlessly in the floor.
4. Cut a Patch to Rough Size
- Use a block plane to true up the edge of the floorboard chosen for the patch.
- On the scrap, locate a portion that’s wider and longer than the damaged area and has a similar grain. Cut out a strip with a handsaw, as shown, and remove the saw marks with a block plane.
5. Rip and Plane to Final Thickness
- Cut the patch roughly to size using a hand saw. First, rip the patch to rough width. Then rip the patch in half so it’s half the thickness of the floorboard.
- Square one end of the Dutchman using the block plane.
- Check the end for squareness with a combination square.
6. Mark the Mortise
- Hold the Dutchman up to the section of the floor requiring the patch. Mark the length just slightly past where the chip ends.
- Cut the Dutchman to length based on the mark.
- Hold the Dutchman over the chip. Trace around the outside of the patch using the utility knife.
7. Cut the Mortise
- Chisel out the outlined section of the floor roughly the thickness of the patch. To save time, you can use a drill with a Forstner bit and then switch to the hand chisel for fine tuning.
- Pitch the Dutchman at an angle and shave off a little bevel on each side with the block plane so the patch will fit easier in the floor.
8. Stain the Patch
- Once the Dutchman fits the hole, prestain it with a rag. Let the stain sit for about five minutes.
- Stain the Dutchman with a rag. Let it dry for a few minutes.
9. Glue the Patch in Place
- Apply wood glue to the hole in the floor. Make sure all the raw wood is covered with glue. Re-secure the Dutchman and wipe off excess glue with a rag.
- Tape around the patch and let it sit overnight. After about 24 hours, add a few coats of polyurethane until the patch blends in with the rest of the floor.
Everything Tom used for this project, including the hand saw, block plane, utility knife, and stain, can be found at home centers.
Tom used flooring saved by the homeowner, but flooring can also be found at home centers, lumber yards, and flooring retailers. For a patch, use the same type of wood and look for a piece that has a similar grain to the floor being patched.
Tom secured the Dutchman to the floor using wood glue and polyurethane glue, both manufactured by Gorilla Glue.
The workbench Tom made the Dutchman on is manufactured by Kreg.