Patch vs Replace: Brand-new hardwood floor, with a termite-damaged board!
Total noob here, with a very vexing problem:
Three weeks after moving into this place (with it's new hardwood living room floor we paid $5,000-ish to get done), I noticed a HOLE in one of the floorboards! :eek:
When the installer came out to look at it, he said, "Wow. That's termite damage. Must have been inside the board, and we didn't notice it during the install."
I think he's probably right. It's a quarter-inch wide 'channel' or 'groove' beneath the surface of the board. I could see how it could have been completely self-contained--until the sanding/finishing/me walking on it cause the thin top layer to break through.
Here's a couple of photos:
He explained I had two options:
[Option 1] Fill the hole with glue, and putty; try and match the surrounding color
[Option 2] Replace the board by gluing and nailing a new one in place of the old one.Option 2, right? Pretty obvious? I didn't like the sound of "glue & nail" when all the others are tongue-and-groove, but he explained (and I've since learned) that that's a pretty standard replacement method.
But then he explained something else about Option 2: "Can't guarantee it will be a '100% match'. It may stick up higher than the surrounding boards..."
Say, what now? "The only way to get it to be perfectly flush is to re-sand and refinish the entire floor--and that's a 3 day process...".
Not knowing what else to do, I opted for Option 1:
For a week or so after the repair, I noticed a 'bulge' in the wood where the glue had been squirted into the 'channel' beneath the surface. (Think extension cord under a rug.) There was also some 'give' there, when I pressed on it.
It's settled down some, since (flattened and hardened), but it's still heartbreaking to have a brand-new floor with that dollop of putty in the middle of it. :mad:
What do you think is my best long-term option? Stick with the patch, or have the board replaced? I'd hate to trade an inch long patch for a 34-inch board that sits higher than it's neighbors!
The floor guy has indicated that he's willing to try and get the patch to match a little better, OR replace the board and varnish it to try and match it's surroundings. But, as he keeps emphasizing,
What would YOU do, Oh Wise, more-experienced Elders?! :confused1:
I would probably opt for replacing the eaten board once I made sure termites had not gotten into others!
As for it being higher than the other boards? The contractor is going to glue and/nail it in place anyhow so matching the t&g is no longer an issue. Run it through a planer to shave a bit off if necessary. Stain, finish and be done with it.
I would have it replaced. It does no look like termites. They would not be it the middle of the room, or in the boards cut from the tree. They only infest the outer layer of the tree. It is more likly a larger beatle larve that was in the tree before processing into flooring. The beatle was killed during the kiln drying process. The problem is that they leave large tunnels. To replace the board I would not let him face nail it. Liquid nail will hold it in place. He can use a multi tool to sand it to match the height of the other boards. The multi tool is made to be a detail sander. If he does not have one, he needs to get one. Every hardwood finisher should have one. They are great tools. After sanding he can lightly scuff the finish around the board and add new finish to match as close as posible.
I would also suggest that because this is fresh in your mind, and new floor, etc... it sticks out a lot more than it ever will in the future.
I have two holes in my refinished hardwood floors, they are from where the old radiator was removed.
So imagine two 2.5 inch round holes. :eek:
They filled, sanded and color matched them the best they could.
The truth is, I have bigger things to worry about than ever noticing them again, that will happen to you too.
In other words, you do what you can, knowing that nothing will ever be "perfect" and in a short time, you won't even remember or care.
or... two words... "area rug" :)
Any person doing anything should have one! I bought a Fein early on when even more expensive than now and it is easily one of the best tool purchases I ever made. It paid for itself many times over. I have not worked with them but there are also other brands now and different sources for consumables that might be more budget friendly to consumers.
That said, I would still run the floor board through a planer if needing to take more than 1/16 of an inch off. Then sand it.
I'll print out these responses and ask him about your suggestions!
Here's a few links.
Fein being the best and Dremel being O.K. The difference being the power of the motor.
They were getting a head start adding character.
I think replacing the board, even if there is slight lippage, would look better than the putty. Then consider it a custom feature of your flooring. A keystone board, hand cut and set with loving care. Name it Fred.
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