Solving Problems with Older Floors

Solving Problems with Older Floors

Older floors will inevitably need repairs as ordinary wear and tear over the years takes its toll. Maintenance is usually straightforward and, since older floors are likely to have been laid before the advent of cheap large sheets of manufactured board, problems will tend to be confined to the solid timber floorboards. Most areas that require attention will be easy to spot once any floor covering is removed, and can be dealt with using a few basic tools.


Tips of the trade

When to inspect – The ideal time to inspect and correct prodlems is the carpet or other floor covering is being replaced. At this time the boards will be completely exposed and can be given a thorough overall investigation.

Removing skirting board – If you are refurbishing the floor, consider removing the skirting boards before you begin work. This makes it far easier to re-lay the floor as you do not have the problem of tucking new floorboards underneath skirting.

Safety Advice

Wear knee pads when working on a wooden floor to protect your knees from projecting nails. One of the main reasons for creaking floors is that floorboards have become loose over time.


Fixing Loose Boards

One of the main reasons for creaking floors is that floorboards have become loose over time.


Tools for the Job:

  • hammer
  • nail punch


fitting loose floorboards Nail down any loose boards using losthead nails, which are specially designed for flooring. Set any heads below the surface with a nail punch.


Closing Up Gaps

Over time floorboards will shrink so that gaps begin to appear between them. Gaps will make carpets more dirty and cause a room to feel colder as draughts blow up the gaps into the living area. There are two methods for sealing up these gaps — either the gaps are filled or the entire floor is taken out and laid again.


Tools for the Job:

  • tape measure & pencil
  • handsaw
  • hammer
  • floorboard jack


Filling Gaps Between Floorboards

filling the gaps between floorboards Regular gaps between floorboards can be filled with a strip of wood. Cut a strip the width of the gap and as thick as the adjacent board, coat it with glue on both edges then tap it into the space with a hammer.


Re-laying the Floor

re-laying the floor Another option is to lift and re-lay all the floorboards in the room. Fit the first board tight to the wall and, using a floorboard jack, butt each one up against its neighbour as it is fitted. Fit new boards into any remaining gaps.



Tips of the trade

Tattered edges will often prevent oafs from properly securing the boards. By ripping a strip off either side, though this narrows the boards, you will gain fresh edges to ensure a secure fixing.


Laying Hardboard

Laying sheets of manufactured board, in this case hardboard, over existing floorboards is a worthwhile project.

It instantly seals any small gaps, preventing dirt and draughts from coming up from below, and provides a smooth floor over which to lay carpet or other flooring. However, laying hardboard should not been seen as a cure-all. Although it will successfully cover minor flaws and undulations in the existing floorboards, it is essential that any missing floorboards are replaced and any broken or damaged boards are repaired before the hardboard is laid on top.


Tips of the trade

Preparing the hardboard – Before being fitted hardboards need to be sprinkled with water to remove internal stresses. This prevents the hardboard from bubbling or puckering up later. Which could otherwise damage the floor covering Paid on top.

Rough side up — Laying hardboard with the rough side uppermost will provide more grip for the carpet underlay and prevents it slipping. If the floor covering is to be stuck down the rough surface also helps to provide a key for the glue.


Tools for the Job:

  • tape measure & pencil
  • staple gun
  • safety glasses
  • hammer
  • coping saw
  • handsaw


  1. Start in one corner of the room and lay a sheet of hardboard smooth side down. The traditional method for laying hardboard is with panel pins to fit it to the floor at 100mm (4in) centres in every direction. To reduce the chance of ripples forming nail from the centre of the sheet towards the edges.
  2. Work out from the first sheet, butting the edges of adjacent sheets against it. However, to avoid a ridge forming you must leave a small gap of approximately 3mm (3/16in) between each sheet. If the room is particularly small or you are working alone, you may find that whole sheets of hardboard are difficult to handle and need to cut them down to a more manageable size. If you are using smaller sheets note that you will still need to leave a 3mm (3/16in) gap all around the edge.
  3. To fit the hardboard around such obstacles as radiator pipes, first cut out a 100 x 100mm (4 x 4in) piece in the adjacent sheet so that it clears the pipe. Then make a paper template that fits neatly into this cut out and around the pipe. Trace the shape onto an offcut of hardboard before cutting it out and pinning it into place.


Laying Flooring With Staples

An alternative and quicker method of laying hardboard is with a heavy-duty staple gun. If you are using a staple gun make sure you protect your eyes with protective goggles or safety glasses, as a misfired staple can fly up at your face at high speed and do serious damage.


Turning the Floorboards Over

One way of rejuvenating an old floor without going to the expense of buying all new floorboards is to lift the existing boards and turn them over. Often the underside has no sign of the wear and tear you might find on the original side. If the floorboards are very damaged this may not work, but often it is worth investigating as a cost saving measure.


Further Problems with Floors

While you are inspecting and repairing the floorboards it is good idea to investigate the supporting structure of the floor at the same time. Make sure that all joists, strutting and associated woodwork are sound — repair and replace if necessary.

17. December 2010 by admin
Categories: Flooring | Tags: | Comments Off on Solving Problems with Older Floors

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