The Cost Of Repairing Floorboards

All you need to know about the repairing floorboards, including costs of fitting, labour and time frames.

The Cost Of Repairing Floorboards

What the job entails

Most older homes in the UK will have ground floors comprised of individual floorboards nailed to wooden joists, sometimes the first floor will also use the same type of construction, whereas newer homes usually have floorboards or solid concrete floors. Whether you are planning to expose the floorboards, or are going to lay new flooring over them, it is important that the floorboards are in good condition and firmly nailed or screwed to the joists below. Laying carpet can hide many floorboard faults while laminate flooring will show up any major floorboard defects.

Older floorboards are usually straight edged so lifting them is not too difficult using a wide-bladed chisel or bolster to prise the board up gently, working along the board prising it up as you go to avoid any damage. Removing tongue and grooved floorboards is a bit more difficult as you will need to saw through the tongue using a convex blade flooring saw or circular saw before the board to be levered up. When removing tongue and grooved floorboards you need to be very careful not to accidentally cut into any joists below, as this will mean that you need replace them too, adding more costs.

The condition of the floor joists should be checked carefully as you remove the old floorboards, floor joists should last for many decades without issues as long as they are well insulated and ventilated. If there are any joist problems, it is usually caused by damp due to lack of ventilation. If you find that the floor joists are damaged or rotten when lifting the floorboards, you should seek professional advice, particularly if there is evidence of dry rot, which can spread quickly, and the spores can be harmful if inhaled. Even accomplished DIY enthusiasts may find themselves out of their depth when it comes to assessing rot.

Loose floorboards can often easily be fixed simply by replacing the nails that are holding them in place, with screws. You can remove the nails and use the existing holes for the new screws or leave the old nails and drive a screw in next to them. Countersink the screw holes then make a wooden plug for a professional finish. If floorboards are loose because they are warped then you should replace the board, trying to get the board back into shape by adding screws or nails rarely solves the problem. When replacing a floorboard, as long as you plan to sand the whole floor afterwards, matching the boards is not really important as long as you use the same wood. Always make sure that any nail or screw heads are punched below the surface before you start sanding. Even if you plan to lay carpet over the floorboards, ensure there are no protruding nail heads.

Split floorboards can sometimes be repaired using strong wood glue in the crack and then compressing the edges together using wedges, but this is not really an option if the split is large or jagged. Severely damaged floorboards need to be completely replaced or the damaged section can sometimes just be cut out and replaced. When cutting a floorboard, ensure you cut over a joist so that the ends can be firmly fixed. If you can't find a replacement floorboard that fits perfectly, get a slightly wider board and plane it to the correct size. You can even use thinner boards in a pinch by adding some thin strips of packing material.

The Cost Of Repairing Floorboards

Although repairing a squeaky floorboard by screwing it firmly to the joist, is a relatively easy DIY task. In general, some professional input is always worthwhile. Screwing a creaky floorboard into a rotten joist will offer a temporary solution at best and over time you may well end up having to pay for a complete new floor and joists. Hiring a professional is too often seen just as an expense, whereas it can (and often does) save money in the long run. If there are any concerns at all about the integrity of the floor joists, then always consult a professional before repairing or replacing floorboards.

The main costs will depend on the state of the flooring itself. If the floorboards are stained or have only minor damage/warping, these can be corrected quite easily; cleaning and bleaching for stains, some sanding to correct minor damage/warping. However if the damage is significant, such as a floorboard breaking or cracked significantly - this would require fixing these floorboards or even replacing those boards entirely.

For a tradesperson to complete these corrections, this would also depend on the state of the floorboards. As you may expect, for minor damage, this would likely be quite quick to rectify, but for more complex fixes, like replacing floorboards this would take up more time and be more expensive accordingly. Typically, tradespersons would charge a rate of £200-£250 - as would be applicable for the major issues. For the minor corrections, these would likely take a few hours at most and cost less for the time accordingly.

Below are some estimated costs of repairing floorboards.

Job Description Avg. Cost Duration
Lift carpet fix creaky floorboards then lay carpet again £200 1-4 Hours
Fix broken floorboards and screw loose floor boards £250 1 Day
Replace a floor joist and several split floorboards £400 1-3 Days


Cost Breakdown

Individual costs of repairing broken floorboards (non-replacement) - Total Cost: £250

10%

Materials
£25

90%

Tradesmen
£225

0%

Waste Removal
£0

FAQ's

Look for cracked, split or damaged boards, check for beetle infestation damp and rot. If you have carpet down, then feel for springy or saggy floors.
Damp and beetle infestation. Timber that becomes damp will rot and suffer beetle infestation which will eventually cause the boards to become soft. Damp is often caused by leakage from pipes or condensation. Many old houses there have old boreholes from wood beetle activity, but this is usually superficial.
Always repair rather than replace original floorboards if at all possible. but when refixing old boards it is better to use brass screws rather than nails to protect any ceilings below and to get a more solid fix with no creaking. But always countersink screws to avoid problems when sanding.
Loose floorboards are the cause of squeaking. They become loose for a number of reasons but the most common (and simplest) problem, is simply that the original fixing (nail) is no longer holding the board tight. However, movement in floorboards can be caused by more serios problems, so always investigate fully and get professional advice.
There should be a small amount of springiness in a wooden floor, but if this seems excessive, if for example furniture in the room moves when the floor is walked on, then you should consider getting a surveyor or structural engineer to check the floor as there could be a problem with the floor joists caused by damp or by builders cutting into them in the past to lay pipes and cables. Potential structural problems are not a DIY job.