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How to Remove and Replace Tongue and Groove Flooring

Step-by-step instructions to help you carefully fix your wood floor boards without causing damage.

In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva cuts in a perfect-fit patch.

If your tongue and groove floors are needed to be fixed, removed, or replaced, this video and the instructions below will help.

This Old House General Contractor, Tom Silva, shows you how to remove tongue and groove flooring without damage, then, replace them with new ones carefully. He demonstrates how to take the end out of a groove, and re-install a new set, as well as describes how to give the floor a smooth finish when you’re done.

How to Fix Tongue and Groove Flooring

How to Remove Tongue and Groove Boards in 5 Steps

  1. Use a hammer and chisel to chop through the damaged floorboards.
  2. At the end joint, use the hammer and chisel to cut straight down and through the tongue at the end of the damaged floorboard.
  3. Use the chisel to pry the severed tongue from the groove in the end of the adjacent floorboard.
  4. Remove the damaged floorboards using a flat pry bar.
  5. Sweep or vacuum the subfloor of all dust and dirt.

How to Install Tongue and Groove Flooring in 15 Steps

  1. Measure and mark a new floorboard to fit into the floor.
  2. Adjust a circular saw for a slight 5-degree bevel, then crosscut the new floorboard to length.
  3. Apply construction adhesive to the subfloor.
  4. Set the new floorboard into place with its end tongue fitting into the end groove of the adjacent floorboard.
  5. Press down the new floorboard, then use a hammer and scrap-wood block to tap the board into place.
  6. Continue to cut and install new floorboards, notching them when necessary with a jigsaw to fit around pipes and other obstacles.
  7. Use a table saw to rip the last row of floorboards to width.
  8. Install the last row of floorboards by face-nailing them to the subfloor.
  9. Sand the new floorboards using a random-orbit sander and 120-grit abrasive disks.
  10. Fill all nail holes and seams between the new floorboards with wood filler.
  11. Let the putty dry, then sand the area again.
  12. Use a foam brush to apply two coats of shellac to the new floorboards. Allow the shellac to dry overnight.
  13. Lightly hand-sand the shellac with 100-grit sandpaper.
  14. Apply an oil-based wood stain to the new floorboards, matching the color of the existing floor.
  15. Let the stain dry overnight, then apply two coats of polyurethane varnish.

Tools You’ll Need