How to Remove and Replace Floorboards

It is often necessary to remove floor­boards when installing or repairing central heating pipes, plumbing pipes and electrical wiring. You may also need to remove old, broken floorboards to repair the floor. The first thing to do is to turn off your electricity just in case you cut through a cable. Then mark out carefully the area of flooring which is to be removed. The lines marking the area should run down the joints between the boards, across one end of the boards as close to the edge of a joist as possible (the first joist) and across the other end of the boards along the centre of a joist. You can work out where the (50mm wide) joists are by looking at the nail heads.


If none of the boards is loose, starting to lift the boards by cutting across the first one is the most difficult part of the operation. A floorboard saw will make the job easier. If you do not have one bore a number of holes close together along the line of the intended saw cut near the first joist. This will form a starter slot which is long enough to allow a padsaw blade to be inserted. Cut the board along the line as close to the edge of the joist as possible. If the floor is made of tongued-and-grooved boards, you will have to cut through the tongues on both sides of the first board to lift it. The best tool for this is a circular saw set so that the blade just passes through the tongue.

Now put a bolster chisel into the saw cut, lever up the end of the board and place a small piece of timber underneath the board across the gap in the floor. Raise the board and saw through the other end immediately over the centre of a joist (the second joist). When an end joint falls in the area to be removed, the board can be lifted at this point. Further boards can be lifted with ease simply cut across the boards along the edge of the first joist, raise them and cut across the other end in line with the centre of the second joist.


When replacing the boards, screw a small batten on to the side of the first joist to support the ends of the boards.

If you are replacing the old boards with new ones, cut the new ones longer than the boards taken out – by half the width of a joist – and provide support for the ends of the new boards by cutting back the remaining boards to the centre of the first joist. Prise up the boards and remove the nails before attempting to cut back the boards.

Finally the old (or new) boards should be either nailed or screwed in place, avoiding any pipes or cables underneath. If you think you may need to remove the boards again for access, or if hammering could damage the ceiling, use screws to secure the boards in position.

Filed Under: Home & Maintenance


About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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