How to Patch a Porch Floor
An easy upgrade for safer stepping
This Old House general contractor Tom Silva eliminates a tripping hazard by replacing a broken board.
Pull the Nails
These square-edged deck boards were face-nailed to the joists. To remove a board, Tom looks for a telltale row of nailheads, then uses a cat’s paw to pry out each nail in the board. If a nail is missing a head, he uses nail-pulling pliers, as shown.
Tip: When a nail must come out and saving the surface of the wood isn’t a priority, grab a cat’s paw. Place its claws next to the doomed fastener at a 45-degree angle and hammer the head into the wood until the claws straddle the nail shaft. If they don’t grab, place the cylindrical knuckle over the nailhead, whack the tool with a hammer to create a recess, and try again. Then rock the handle. That leaves the nail no choice but to back out.