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Flooring Repairs

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 8 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Flooring Repairs

No matter how resilient and durable a floor material is meant to be, repeated wear and tear from daily traffic will eventually show and you may find yourself in need of some floor repair work – whether it is squeaky floorboards, scratched surfaces, cracks in tiles or stains on carpets. Sometimes entire sections are damaged and will need to be replaced or refinished. Most suppliers and manufacturers will advise on repair as well but some repairs are actually simpler than you think and can be attempted by yourself before having to call in the professionals.

Squeaky Floors

This is one of the most common problems and although not a serious structural fault, can become very irritating on a daily basis. In some cases, if you have Exposed Hardwood Floors, it is as simple as sprinkling some talcum powder over the noisy area and sweeping it into the cracks between the boards. For more serious squeaks, you will need to get into the space beneath the floor or the basement and ask someone to walk directly above you to help locate the problem boards. Once you have pinpointed the area (or see the subfloor move in that area) then use a piece of chalk to outline the area. Now look at the joists within this area: anywhere there is a gap between the joists and the subfloor, the floorboards can move which means that they will squeak. Fix this by installing shingles or wood shims into the gaps, which will reduce any movement.

However, if there are no gaps or if the squeaks seem to be originating from the area between the joists, then your problem is a gap between the floorboards themselves and the subfloor. Fix this by pulling the two layers together using wood screws: drill holes through the subfloor and into the squeaky area (this prevents wood cracking) and make sure that your wood screws are long enough to penetrate to the floorboards but at the same time, not so long that they will poke out above the floorboards.

If your house is such that you cannot gain access to the space below your floorboards then you will need to do repairs from above, using spiral flooring nails. Again, follow the same procedure for localising the area of squeaking and determining whether it is from the joists or between them. Then, use two spiral flooring nails angled towards each other in a V-shape and drive them through the floorboards down to the subfloor. If the squeaks are from the joists, make sure the nails drive into the joist as well. Again, drill holes first to prevent the wood splitting.

In some cases, you will have carpeting or even tiling above the floorboards while also not having access from below. This means that access above and below the floorboards is both denied and you will need to remove the floor covering first to get to the floorboards. However, before you do this, try pounding the floorboards with a hammer (and a block of wood as a buffer) in the squeaky area – this may provide enough pressure to force nails back into place and reset any loose floor boards without resorting to major excavations!

Tile Floors

This covers ceramic and also vinyl, linoleum and cork tiles. Generally, Repairs to Tile Floors are quite simple as you only need to repair or replace the problem area. For loose tiles, particularly those loose just at one corner or edge, try re-attaching it using the adhesive that is already in place. To do this, cover the tile with some aluminium foil and some soft cloth and then heat the loose edges using an iron (on medium heat). This softens the old adhesive and will allow the tile to rebond. Once the tile is repositioned, place a heavy weight in the centre of the tile (e.g. a pile of hardback books) and leave overnight. If you feel that the old adhesive is not strong enough then find a tile adhesive specific to that kind of tile and then use a putty knife or scraper to lift the loose edge and scrape the old adhesive off. Apply the new adhesive and then continue as above, only removing the weight after the time prescribed by the adhesive manufacturers.

If a tile is completely cracked or damaged then you may need to replace it. Take great care not to damage surrounding tiles when you are removing the broken one. Heat it again to soften the adhesive and then pry up using a putty knife or paint scraper. Make sure that you thoroughly remove all the old adhesive from the space, so that you have a clean base for the new tile and that any filler is completely dry before you fit the new tile. Spread the new adhesive and then warm the new tile so that it is flexible (use an iron) and set it in place. Press it firmly into the adhesive and place a weight on the tile for the period of time advised by the adhesive manufacturer.

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