General contractor Tom Silva takes us on a road trip to help a homeowner patch holes in the floor left by the previous homeowner. With some of Tom’s decades-old stock, the two set to work cutting and patching a piece into the floor. Then, once installed, Tom shows the homeowner how to finish the patch so it blends in perfectly.
Radiator systems require installers to drill holes through the floor. When it’s a finished wood floor, and the homeowner eventually removes the radiator, those holes become an eyesore. General contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner solve this exact problem in his new baby’s nursery, patching the floors with a “new” piece of wood milled to match the existing flooring.
How to Fill Pipe Holes in Wooden Floors
First, assess the damage and the location of the holes. If the holes are in the middle of a board, it may be easiest to cut that board out with an oscillating tool and replace it with a matching piece.
If the hole bridges two pieces of wood, it may be better to create a patch called a “Dutchman,” which is a small and relatively inconspicuous patch. If there’s more than one hole across more than one board, it’s best to remove both of the damaged boards and replace them with one board that looks like two.
- Determine the flooring material. Hardwood floors are usually red or white oak, or a species of pine. Find a piece of wood in a similar species that is larger than the damaged area.
- Measure the patch area. Be sure to measure an inch or so past the holes, as well as the exact width of both boards being replaced. Be sure to add the widths together, as you’ll be replacing both boards with one.
- Cut the end of the board square with the miter saw. Then, measure and mark the board to the appropriate length. Cut the board at this mark.
- Cut the board to the overall width on the table saw. Adjust the fence so that it is the appropriate width from the inside of the blade. Then pass the board through the table saw blade, guiding it with a push stick for safety.
- Lower the table saw blade so that it’s sticking above the table approximately ⅛ to 3/16 of an inch. This will cut the groove to make the one board look like two. Adjust the fence so that the blade will align with the existing seam between the flooring boards. Pass the board over the blade to create the groove.
- Place the new flooring piece in place to test the fit. If everything looks good (width, length, and groove), hold the board in place and use it as a guide for the oscillating tool. Score the floor first with a ⅛-inch groove, remove the board, and then continue cutting.
- Use a pry bar and hammer to pull the cut boards up from the subfloor. If the floor was face-nailed with cut nails, be sure to save them.
- Place the new board into the space in the floor and face nail through the board into the subfloor below. Reuse the cut nails if possible. Quickly sand the surface and vacuum any dust.
- Slowly stir the stain, varnish, or polyurethane to avoid introducing air bubbles. Once mixed, apply the stain to the flooring patch, maintaining a wet edge for an even finish. Allow it to dry for 24 hours before lightly sanding again and applying another coat. Wait 24 more hours, sand, and apply the varnish one last time.
Tom Silva helps a homeowner patch holes in their wood floors left over from radiators previously removed.
Tom plans to cut straight across the two boards with holes to remove them, and then drop one board in to look like two.
A miter saw is used to rip the board to match the width of the existing floorboards. Then, a table saw is used to cut the board to length. Adjusting the blade depth, Tom cuts in a shallow joint line, making sure the rip fence is 4-½ inches to the right of the blade.
Tom places the new board into place and face nails it secure using the original floor’s square cut nails. Finally, an orbital sander is used to sand the board smooth. For the finishing touch, a coat of oil-based polyurethane is applied to the floor with a paintbrush.