- 4-in-1 screwdriver
- Circular saw
- Drill bit set
- Drill/driver - cordless
- Putty knife
- Utility knife
- Wood chisel
- Cleaning solvent
- Extra flooring
- Laminate floor patching material
- Wood glue
Assess the laminate floor damage
You can fix minor chips and scratches in a laminate floor with filler products.
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. Plus, check out our expert guide for installing laminate flooring.
Project step-by-step (7)
Replace 'snap-together' planks:
Remove the center section. 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. 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 line.
Cut to the corners
Next, cut from the center section into each corner, stopping at the drilled hole. Don't go any farther! 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 cut pieces.
Remove the bottom lip
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. Score the tongue several times with a utility knife. Then snap it off with pliers. Shave off any remaining scraps with your knife.
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.
Replace glued planks:
Raise the floor to gain leverage. 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.
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 remaining glue.
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. Lay the new plank when done.
Repair minor damage in laminate flooring:
Drop a knife or other sharp-edged item and you’ll get an instant chip in your laminate floor. But you don’t need to call in a pro, because this repair is strictly DIY. If you have the chip or an extra plank, take it to a home center or flooring supplier and match it up with a tube of laminate floor patching material. You may have to buy the two closest colors and mix them to match. While you’re there, buy a matching brand of cleaning solvent.
Clean the flooring with the solvent and let it dry. Next, squeeze a dollop of filler onto a scrap piece of flooring or a mixing board and mix it with a putty knife until it begins to dry. Then press a shallow layer into the chip. Don’t try to fill the entire chip in one application. Clean off any excess with solvent. Let the first coat set for one hour before applying the next.
After the filler hardens, use a knife to duplicate the grain pattern. Darken the cuts with furniture touch-up markers.
Next, make sure you know how to clean laminate floors to keep them looking like new.