Common Floorboard Problems And Ways To Fix Them

Wood flooring with armchair and footstool

Whether your home has its floorboards exposed or covered up, problems can often occur with them. And sometimes these problems are impossible to ignore.

If your floorboards are on show, you probably want them to look their best. But even if your boards are carpeted over, creaks and draughts can be annoying and certainly need fixing. To help you get on top of these problems, this handy blog covers some common floorboard problems and ways to fix them. 

Creaky and squeaky floorboards

Let’s start with a common problem that’s usually fairly simple to fix – creaky floorboards. 

Floorboards have a habit of creaking when they’re loose. So, the first thing is to identify the problem board. You may need to pull up carpet and underlay to do this. If the board is held down with screws, you simply need to tighten them. With floorboards that are nailed down, you might need to hammer in a new nail or two. 

Sometimes floorboards squeak rather than creak and this can be because the boards are rubbing against one another. This can be solved with some graphite powder inserted between the boards. As a dry lubricant, it will help minimise the friction that’s causing the squeak.

Draughty floorboards

Another big issue with floorboards is they’re draughty. To help improve the warmth of your rooms, you can use a flexible floorboard filler such as Bona Gap Master or Osmo’s Interior Gap Sealer. Or you can use draught excluder strips that you simply push into the gaps. Both of these methods are DIY friendly. 

However, if your floors are particularly draughty and your home isn’t as energy efficient as you’d like, do consider bringing in the experts to add insulation under your floors. 

Scratches and dents

Floorboards can easily become scratched and dented when they’re in high traffic areas of the home. And older floorboards will have naturally acquired some of these defects over the decades. But before you make the decision to fix any dents and scratches, ask yourself whether it really is such a problem. In period homes, the natural wear and tear of your boards can add character and authenticity to your interiors. 

If you really do want to get rid of dents and scratches, there are a few ways to do it. For deep gouges, it’s best to use a wood filler. You will probably need to sand this after it’s dried and stain it to match your boards. For small dents and scratches however, you can simply rub a wax repair stick over the area to hide the defects. 

Orange-coloured floorboards

Although floorboards add a lot of character to the home, the ones you have may not currently look how you would like. One of the biggest turn-offs for homeowners is floorboards that appear slightly orange in colour. The reason for this has nothing to do with the wood itself but the varnish that’s protecting it. Clear varnishes and oil-based coatings can make your floor look orange over time. 

You can use a varnish remover to take off old coatings but sanding is typically the better option as it will get rid of imperfections at the same time and reduces the amount of chemicals you’re using. 

Once that’s done, you can give your floorboards a new coat of oil, wax or stain. However, you might prefer to use a water-based matt or satin lacquer to enhance the natural wood colour and to stop your boards turning orange again.  

Repairing and replacing floorboards

There are times when quick repairs to the existing boards simply won’t cut it. This includes when boards are rotten, riddled with woodworm holes or have lots of splits in them. Sometimes they can be too warped to sit level and fix down properly.

When this is the case, you’re probably looking at replacing some of your boards. For this you’ll be looking at costs from around £300, depending on how extensive the damage is. Minor floorboard repair costs are likely to be between £200 and £300, while a whole new floor could cost nearer the £1,000 to £2,000 mark. 

Reasons to get the experts in

Of course, we’re not all DIY savvy and there can be other good reasons to get the experts in to do certain floorboard repair jobs. 

Firstly, it’s important to understand that pipes and cables usually run directly underneath your floorboards. So, hammering in nails and fixing down boards with new screws can be a risk unless you know what you’re doing.

Secondly, you might think you’ve solved all your flooring problems by replacing or fixing down loose boards. But if the floor still feels bouncy or wonky, then there may be hidden problems with your joists. The only way to know for sure is to get the experts in. 

Thirdly, some work such as sanding, is incredibly messy and time-consuming. Older floorboards may also be painted with lead paint, so you really don’t want to be dealing with this yourself. It can also be tricky to get a good finish with oil or wax unless you’re a skilled professional. 

Finally, unless you’re sure you’ve fixed issues with damp and pests, your new floorboards could end up crumbling away like your old ones. So, it’s best to get trades in to deal with the wider problems in your house.

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