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Hardwood Flooring Repair: Fixing a Big Gap

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Have you ever read the children’s book, The Little Engine That Could?

The Little Engine that Could book and how it inspired me to do hardwood flooring repair

It is about a broken down train that tries to get help so it can get its passenger’s to their destination on time. No other train going by can help them because they all have some excuse or reason why they can’t help, until a happy little blue engine comes by and says…

…”We’ll I am little, but… I think I can”. As the little engine powers up to see if he can pull the train, he keeps repeating to himself… “I think I Can…I think I Can… I Think I Can….”

I guess you may be wondering why I am mentioning a children’s book in a post about how I fixed a big gap in the hardwood flooring in my house? Right?

How to remove a wall and repair the gap left in hardwood flooring

My answer:  The story reminds me of what I finished DIY’ing last week that was still left for me to do after we removed the wall in our home between the kitchen and living room.

hardwood flooring repair

After the wall was removed, it left a long open gap of exposed subfloor. Many people… our realtor, neighbors, friends, and family asked how we were going to deal with it. Most figured we would have to get new flooring or would not be able to find a match in flooring…

…but in the back of my mind I kept saying to myself…“I think I can… I think I can…” patch the floor in a way that would look nice so we would not have the expense of having to install new flooring in the living room and kitchen. We do plan to refinish the floor someday in a darker color, but not get all new flooring.

I know many of you may not have a flooring gap to patch, but what I hope for is that this post inspires you to do… is BELIEVE that you can improve your home, decorate in a manner that makes you happy, or accomplish just about anything that needs doing, even when the naysayers say it can’t be done. That along with a little determination, persistence and resourcefulness will get you the results you are after.

How to Fix a Gap In Hardwood Flooring

wood used to fix a hardwood floor

It took a few months for me to find just the right wood that would fit into the gap in the floor that was left after the removal of the wall, match the color and then seal it with the same sheen as the existing flooring.

I started my search for the right wood at flooring stores, but nothing matched in color or in thickness. What I found was either too thin or thick. After more searching, I finally found the wood that would work at The Home Depot, not in the flooring section, but in the lumber aisle. It was unfinished precut lengths of oak that were the right thickness and had a similar grain as the existing floor.

wood used to repair a hardwood floor

It was sold in 3 foot sections that I thought I would use vertically on the floor, but when I got it home, I realized placing it into the floor in smaller horizontal pieces would be easier and still follow the design of the existing flooring.

How to create an open concept living and dining area in a house

I measured and cut each piece to fit into the gap and then used Liquid Nails under each piece to secure it into place. I then sanded the areas with an electric sander and 60 grit sandpaper that were not flush with the floor.

Once that was done it sat like this (above photo) for a few weeks waiting until I found just the right combination of stain, paint, and poly that would match up with the existing floor finish.

repairing a wood floor

I knew matching the stain color and polyurethane finish was going to be a challenge. I tried just using poly, but it was too light in color. Next I tried a few different colors of stain, all were too dark or red.  Pecan stain was the closest match and I applied it over the new pieces of wood, but it was still too light.

supplies need to fix a damaged hardwood floor

It wasn’t until I started to think out-of-the-box to get the color just right. I went to my crafts cabinet and grabbed yellow ochre craft paint along with some magic markers and worked on the floor until I got the right color combination.

How to fix a hardwood floor

What worked was a watered down coat of yellow ochre artist pigment crafts paint. As I applied it, I knew I had found the match. I added it along with a wipe down of Pecan stain.

How to repair hardwood floors

There were still a few small gaps along a few edges. I used wood filler in these areas.

How to repair a hardwood floor

and wiped away the excess.  When it was dry, I used a gold and brown magic marker to color the wood filler.

After it was dried, I applied 3 coats of polyurethane and let it dry.

Patching damaged hardwood floors

Here is the AFTER

It may not be perfect, but it is pretty close.

How to repair hardwood flooring

“I thought I could…I thought I could… I thought I could…” :-)

If you have a project that seems challenging and you are hesitating to start it. Try a little positive thinking….it may just get you exactly what you are after.

If you have a hardwood floor that is in need of repair or has a big gap after the removal of a wall, check out what I DIY'ed to repair the floor. Hardwood floor repair.

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45 Comments

  1. So impressed! I love Sharpies so much that I think they’d make my top 10 list of things to take to a deserted island! I would have a hard time thinking of using them on flooring though so thanks for the great example of thinking outside the box.

  2. Awesome job!! Love how you blended with sharpies too—a real keen sense of shades you have. And your back in my inbox too!! Thanks Diane!!

  3. Wowza!!!!!! I think this is the most impressive project I’ve seen!!! It looks awesome!

  4. Wow, that is a spectacular DIY solution to your problem! Way to go! You’re right in believe “I think I can”… positive thinking does so much to move us forward in life, doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing. :-)