Step 1: Assess the laminate floor damage
You can fix minor chips and scratches
in a laminate floor with filler products
from the home center. But if the
damage is severe, you have to replace
the plank (you did save a few from
the installation, right?). It’s a job you
can do yourself in about two hours. In
addition to a spare plank, you’ll need a
circular saw, hammer and chisel, router
or table saw, drill and wood glue.
Some flooring experts recommend
removing the base molding and
unsnapping and numbering every
plank until you get to the damaged
portion. That works if the damaged
plank is close to the wall. But trust us,
if the damaged section is more than a
few rows out from the wall, it’s actually
faster to just cut it out. If your
laminate floor is glued together, the
unsnapping routine won’t work at all. See “Replacing Glued Planks,” below.
Step 2: Replace "snap-together" planks
1 of 3
Photo 1: Remove the center section
Set the depth of
your circular saw
a tad deeper than
the floor thickness.
Then lift the blade
guard and dip the
blade into the cutting
2 of 3
Photo 2: Cut to the corners
Cut from the center
section to the
drilled hole in each
farther! Break out
the remainder with
3 of 3
Photo 3: Remove the bottom lip
Score the tongue
several times with
a utility knife. Then
snap it off with
pliers. Shave off any
with your knife.
Start by drawing a cutting line 1-1/2
in. in from all four edges of the plank.
Drill a 3/8-in. relief hole at each corner
of the cutting line and again 1/4 in. in
from each corner of the plank.
Cut out the center section with a
circular saw, cutting from hole to hole
(photo 1). Next, cut from the center section
into each corner, stopping at the
drilled hole (photo 2). Finally, cut a
relief cut from the center section out
toward the seam of each plank. Tap a
chisel into each relief cut to break out
the uncut portion. Then remove all the
The new plank has a groove at one
end and one side, as well as a tongue
at the opposite end and side. But you
can’t install it until you cut off the
bottom lip of both grooves and the side
tongue. Use a utility knife to remove
them (Photo 3). Here’s a tip for cutting
the groove. Stick the blade inside the
groove and cut off the bottom from the
inside (or use a table saw).
Apply a bead of wood glue to all
four edges of the new plank. Insert the
glued tongue of the new plank into the
groove on the existing flooring and
drop the plank into place. Wipe off
any excess glue and load books on the
plank until it’s dry.
Step 3: Replace glued planks
1 of 2
Photo 1: Raise the floor to gain leverage
Slip a dowel or scrap piece of flooring under the seam.
Grab the section with pliers and tilt it down until the glued
seam cracks apart. Then snap it upward to break any
2 of 2
Photo 2: The old glue has to go
Use a flat-blade screwdriver or small chisel to chip out the
old glue. Get the surfaces as smooth as possible for a flush
fit and a good glue bond.
Most of the early laminate floors were fastened with glue.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t do an "in-place" patch on
those floors too. Follow all the cutting directions shown
for a snap-together floor. Then use pliers to break the glue
bond (Photo 1). Clean off the old glue (Photo 2) and lay in
the new plank.