Floorboard Patchwork

October 30, 2012   //  Posted in: DIY, Flooring, Stairwell   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment
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The honest to gosh-darn-goodie truth about this project? I refinished the hardwood floors shortly after moving in, and in doing a thorough job at the time, I removed a threshold that sat beneath the bifold door in my stairwell closet. There are a number of reasons I never reinstalled the little sucker, but I attribute it mostly to the fact that the threshold sat a little too proud and impeded the smooth flow of the closet door opening and closing. Off with it’s head. Of course, removing it for the sake of refinishing the floors and deciding not to reinstall doesn’t mean that I didn’t for whatever reason leave the threshold sitting directly next to the closet in the stairwell. It’s such a weird thing for me to have done, admittedly, something comparable to leaving a pair of holey socks on the bathroom floor… for three years.

An actively ignored problem area in my home. What's MIA? Hardwood floorboards.

I did ambitiously replace the trim and the bifold door earlier this year, and the new smooth-operatin’ door made it even more apparent that the floor needed to repaired fully. I wish I could say that it was one of those half-done home improvement projects that you can disguise by shutting the closet door, but as you can see in that above picture it was always pretty obvious that the floorboards ended abruptly. Even worse, the closet looked especially menacing when I had the bifold door open, exposing a legit black hole into the depths between the floor and first story’s ceiling. If you really want to know, it’s filled horrifically with dog fur, scraps of drywall (from previous homeowners, I presume), dirt, screws, pieces of wood, and unreachable toys. For real.

Where the floor is lacking hardwoods, one might find a black hole of grossness.

I’ve some sense of ambition to complete this project ever since I salvaged some oak floorboards a few months ago. Flashback to the springtime of 2012: Pete and I stumbled on a roadside stash of oak floorboards in our neighborhood, a towering pile from which we selected about 20 boards, complete with originally thorny nails, and carefully drove them home to recycle and repurpose. The nails themselves came out easily, and the clean boards have been ready for a new project for quite a while now. Most of our stash is pretty damage-free. Boards that we left behind on the side of the road were noticeably water-damaged or scratched, but our supply is exceptional.

The hardwood flooring jackpot.

These salvaged floorboards, while being very close in color to the natural hardwoods that already flow through my home, are slightly wider, but in this case where the extra boards would be used in a doorway to a closet, I wasn’t concerned about them looking out of place to the untrained eyeball.

 The salvaged floorboards are a bit different than the existing ones in our home, but they will work.

To patch the offending gap in the wooden floor, I decided to employ a few of these boards and the nail gun loaded with 1-1/2″ brads. After measuring the space, I cut the first board to length.

Measuring the doorway for new hardwood floorboards.

The most notable issue as I prepared to install this first board was that the existing floorboard on the edge had suffered quite a bit of damage over time. Not only did it appear to have been sawn unevenly lengthwise in one section, but it was also gouged in three other areas. The damage was very obvious when I tried to line up a new board flush to the old edge.

Four notable points of distress on the existing hardwood floorboard.

The easy solution was to remove that troubled and damaged floorboard with a pry bar, and replace it with one of the scrap boards.

Removing the offending hardwood floorboard gently with a pry bar.

As I prepped the area, I also removed the base shoe trim. The new floorboard that I installed was sized to fit easily in the space that the existing board occupied and it went in effortlessly. You can really see here how close in original color and width these salvaged floorboards are to the originals, save for some staining on the boards in my own staircase.

Patching the hardwood floors.

All other floorboards in the home are noticeably nailed from the top of the board, which is why I turned to the nail gun to install these salvaged piece too. The gun releases the nail with enough power for it to anchor slightly beneath the surface of the board, rendering the nail heads nearly invisible and barely discernible to the touch.

I took one measly shortcut in this project. What I will note is that because the bifold door was installed already, I installed the floorboards around the metal base that you see in these pictures. I could have removed the metal footer, shortened the entire bifold door an inch, reinstalled the footer, and been left with a gap greater than 1″ between the bottom of the door and the top of the floorboards. This worked better, and I won’t be replacing the door myself again anytime soon so I expect it to serve us quite nicely.

I had some scraps of base shoe from when I did the bathroom, office, and kitchen, so I fit in a few custom cut pieces to suit the newly repaired stairwell and caulked the joints clean.

Repairing the base shoe trim in the stairwell.

It should go without saying, but it is obvious that these new floorboards were installed after the existing floor. They’re much, um, nicer than the boards that occupy the rest of the landing, the ones that look like they were peed on repeatedly. I should note that the discolorations on the existing floorboards were found when I removed the carpet and remained prominent even after the floors were refinished. Please let this be enough reason for you to never spill/urinate/saturate the carpet that covers your home’s natural hardwoods. I’m optimistic that with a quick sanding and refinishing of this landing that the new boards will blend in a little more naturally.

I patched new hardwoods in the stairwell. Is it obvious that they're in much better condition than the rest of the floor?

With the trim repaired and the door back on, the unsightly gap in the floorboards is now fully corrected. Checking this off my list was a make-me-feel-good moment if I’ve never had one before.

Repaired stairwell doorway, complete with fresh trim and new hardwood floorboards.

P.S. I’ve never built a dog house, but after scoping out a gallery on DIY Network you can be sure it’s on my list for springtime. See the modern designs that I liked best in today’s bonus post on The Pegboard!

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