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Salvaging a Wood Floor

By Michael Hilton

Old houses are sometimes torn down to clear building sites for new houses, and these soon-to-be razed structures can be the perfect place to salvage an old wood floor. Although it can be very time consuming, salvaging a wood floor from an old structure can yield beautiful, tight-grained wood which may have been originally installed over a century ago! Due to its age, a salvaged wood floor can be made from high quality, old-growth lumber, which is hard to come by these days. The best part about salvaging a wood floor from a home which is about to meet the wrecking ball, is that often the cost is free, except perhaps for a few hours of hard work on your part!

What You Need for Salvaging a Wood Floor:

  • Several pry bars of different sizes. A small 6-inch pry bar is helpful for removing the first few rows of floor boards, while a larger 24-inch flat bar can help speed things up once you really get going. A 36-inch hooked crow bar is also a great tool to have on hand when salvaging a wood floor, as it can be used for clearing away old baseboard trim, removing stubborn nails, or just general deconstruction.
  • A few electric hand tools, such as a rotary Sawz-all, a circular saw, and a cordless drill.
  • Protective clothing, including gloves, knee pads, safety glasses, and ear plugs.

When salvaging a wood floor, it is best to remove the wood floor boards in the opposite order in which they were installed. This usually means that you will be prying up the tongue side of the board, as opposed to the grooved side. This will allow you to place your pry bar directly under the nails, which are usually set at an angle on the top of the board's tongue.

Steps To Removing an Old Wood Floor:

  1. Remove the baseboard trim so that you can determine on which side of the room to begin. Remember, you are looking for the tongue side of the board. You may accidentally damage the first row of flooring when you remove it, but once a row or two is cleared away from the wall, you should have plenty of space to use your small pry bar to remove the boards undamaged.
  2. Place your pry bar under each nail and gently work the board loose. Ideally you want to remove the board without splitting the tongue or damaging the face of the floor board, but some casualties are inevitable. You should expect 10 or 15 percent of the wood floor which you remove to be unusable, so make sure you salvage enough wood to install in your future flooring project.
  3. Once all the wood flooring is removed, sort the usable salvaged floor boards into piles according to length, as this will help keep them organized until you are ready to re-install and finish the wood flooring at a later date.

 

 

About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.

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