Popped Floor Nails
Tom Silva tells a reader what to do about popped flooring nails
The old-style rectangular nails in the face of our wide-plank pine floor keep popping out. Is there a way to grab the subfloor with a screw and still keep the antique look?
—Bruce Sebbins, Holliston, MA
Screws won’t pop, but they would change the old-fashioned appearance of your wide-plank floors. Stick with the nails you already have—they’re called cut nails because they’re sliced off steel sheets—and try this fix instead.
Pull out each loose nail, then dampen its hole and a sliver of wood with water. Wearing disposable gloves, squeeze a dab of polyurethane glue on the sliver. (The gloves prevent the glue from staining your skin.) Insert it into the hole with another dab of glue.
Now, before hammering the old nail back in, orient it so that its tapered sides line up with the wood grain. If the tapers run the other way, perpendicular to the grain, the nail will act like a wedge as you drive it back in and may split the wood. Hammer until the nailhead gets close to the floor, then use a nailset to tap the nail’s head just below the surface so you don’t dent the pine.
Another option is to use a slightly larger nail. Your flooring was probably installed with 8d nails. Longer 10d nails will sink deeper into the subfloor and have more surface area to grip the wood. You won’t need any glue, but the heads will leave slightly larger holes in the flooring.