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Question DetailsAsked on 10/22/2014

Can you unistall and reinstall hardwood floors?

Can you unistall and reinstall hardwood floors? I think the person who installed the hardwood floors before we bought the house did a poor job. Can we save these floors by having them reinstalled correctly or do we have to buy new floors?

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Yes and no, but in my opinion more no. I am assuming you are talking nailed-down hardwood, but thoughts generally apply to floating engineered wood and floating lock-joint hardwood, though they are easier to relay unless full-adhesion glued.

Generally, if it has gotten wet, even if dried out afterwards it will have locked-in warpage stresses that will cause significant and unacceptable warping once the nails are pulled out, so your recoverable percentage will be pretty low, if worth it at all. So, if got wet in flooding, I would say plan on scrapping it.

If it has not gotten wet, yes you can remove the nails and remove and replace the flooring - but unless it is pretty expensive flooring it may not be worth the cost unless doing it yourself because of the intensive labor to undercut the nails on a row, remove the row, pull the cutoff nails out of the wood, label the pieces, set aside in order, then move onto next row - and you will still have a certain percentage of unusable pieces so unless you can find perfect match wood or change a section of the hardwood floored area (maybe hall or closets or such) to another flooring you will likely have a visible mismatch. This is particularly difficult if you had a joint pattern rather than random length (unless all same length pieces), because to replace bad pieces you have to scavenge a piece from elsewhere (or use a new one) then cut to proper length and remill the tongue or groove on the end - and of course if 4-edge snap joint basically impossible to field-rout that pattern so it fits tight.

One other problem is replacing the pieces that have been used before, even if put back in same order for the most part, is likely to result in enough uneveness between adjacent boards that you will probably have to resand the floor after reinstallation and totally refinish it, as opposed to just final finishing (or no treatment at all) on new flooring. Also, you are likely to get a few joints that do not fit tight all across the length ofthe board, so occasional slightly open joints here and there should be expected, and it takes a lot more labor to cinch the boards tight on a reinstall, requiring tension straps pulling across the floor from the opposite edge or pusher bars or screw jacks from the wall behind you to tighten the joints and hold them that way till you get it nailed (or glue sets).

Another consideration is the issue of warranty - with a new floor presumably you will get an installation warranty - most installers will not provide an installation warranty on reused flooring, at least not unless they are totally refinishing it, including sanding, and even then warranty will probably be very short.

You should talk to several hardwood flooring contractors about this, but I would guess at least half will walk away of a reuse installation, and probably 80-90% will not give you a warranty - andof course reinstallation undoubtedly voids any manufacturer warranty, not that they generally are much use after initial laying of the floor because their tendency is to blame the installation unless it is obviously faulty out of the box.

Bottom line - my guess is with normal grade, commonly used hardwood or engineered wood, most of the bids will be cheaper with new materials.

One thought - when you said "floors" - one possibility would be to have a single room done first (letting the contractor know if it turns out well there will be more to do), and see how it goes and how much reject material you have to come up with replacement for. I would start with a room you would be happy putting an area rug over or carpeting over if it does not satisfy you after it is replaced.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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