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Old 07-26-2007, 09:51 AM   #1
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Hardwood floor duct opening repair


I have an older house, circa 1920, and it used to have an old coal-fired, forced hot air furnace. It was removed and replaced with an oil-fired steam boiler. I've since taken out the old steam radiators and replaced with hot-water baseboard units. They closed some of the old cold air return grates by boarding them up with pieces of wood, but they don't match the hardwood floor exactly. Also, where they had drilled holes to make room for the steam pipe to the first and second floor radiators. I've seen the tips on how to replace individual boards in a tongue and groove hardwood floor. So I can just extrapolate to fix these areas. But I'd like some opinions on the best way to go about it. For example, the sub-floor is just 1x4's run diagonally to the joists. Where the cold-air return grate used to penetrate the floor, there's nothing to nail a new piece of sub-floor to so I'd have to open the work area up to include adjacent joists. Is this the best way to do it?

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Old 07-26-2007, 06:09 PM   #2
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Hardwood floor duct opening repair


IMO...If you'd like the hole to vanish then you'd have to remove the flooring around the return air cut out and stagger each piece back to the next board so you aren't left with any number of boards seamed continuosly.

This can be tedious for the fact that you have to replace a series of boards and replace them in the same fashion you would when replacing just one. Keep in mind that the new flooring you use to replace the old will be milled differently and WIDTHS vary. Your approach I think is correct, but plan on custom fitting each piece....ripping off the bottom of the groove, widening the groove, ripping to a different width...etc...This is a tricky project even for the pros.

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Old 07-26-2007, 07:52 PM   #3
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Hardwood floor duct opening repair


Since your house is nearly 100 years old is safe to assume that the floors are 1 1/2 red oak (with a little white oak here and there). Very easy to find.

Cut-with a sawzall- down the tongue side of the boards you want to remove. If you do this right you will cut through the fasteners and free the boards. Do this in a manner that the stagger will look natural while maintaining the ability to remove and replace without having to do to much reseating (sliding boards into a pocket without removing the tongue). The final boards will need to have the tounge ripped off and both sides of the end match(probably). When you rip the tongue, give it a slight bevel the ends an 1/8 of an inch below the top (Maybe more depending on how many times your existing floor has been sanded. Pound it in and face nail it (Red oak fills like a dream). Some people put PL down and pass on the face nail. I did this last fall and over the winter the board split because the pl didnt allow for any movement. What you do next is up to you. Either resand your entire floor, or palm sand your patch job down to match the existing hight. Do your best to blend it and it will look fine.
I just did this for a customer last week in a large home (more than
20 holes )
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Old 07-26-2007, 09:36 PM   #4
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Hardwood floor duct opening repair


Hey Guys, thanks for the tips. There aren't too many spots like this in the house so I don't mind the challenge of trying this one. I'm not expecting to do it as fast, or as well as the pros, but I think I can make it look good if I take my time. I'm not in a rush as this is likely to be a winter project. Also, the floors have yet to be sanded and refinished. Keep in mind that this house was built in the southern portion of NY State and done quickly. So I'm not confident that they used the best of materials. In fact, some of the siding boards and stud framing members still have bark on them.
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Old 07-28-2007, 11:57 PM   #5
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Hardwood floor duct opening repair


If the materials used r not the best I would actually recomend u to go slow or else U run the risk of damaging the entire look of the thing.Take it slow if u aint in a rush
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