Floors - lifting boards

Sometimes it's necessary to inspect below floor level or replace a board. Floorboards can usually be lifted for access to pipes or wires without damaging the surface. Here's how.

Always ensure that there are no cables or pipes directly under a board you are nailing or cutting. If you are unsure, seek professional advice. Wear eye protection when hammering or using power tools

Square-edged boards

Use a wide-bladed cold chisel or pry bar to gently lever up one side of the board close to the end. Work along the board and then repeat on the opposite side. You may find slotting a batten of timber under the raised board helpful. Work along the board until it can be levered up by hand and removed. Tip boards until almost vertical to release them from under skirting.

Take care as there will be sharp nails protruding from the underside of the boards.

Boards that are fitted all the way across a room, with both ends under the skirting, must be prised up over a joist. Keep the board raised with timber battens and saw through over the centre of the joist.

You can buy or hire a floorboard saw, which has a curved profile and teeth on the top of the blade at the tip. This is able to cut across boards close to skirting when you cannot lift the board fully.

Lifting tongue and groove boards

Remove a tongue and groove board by cutting through the tongues along each edge with a tenon saw or by using a small cordless circular saw which can be hired.

Boards cut next to a joist

If you cannot lever up a board, it will have to be cut flush with the edge of a joist. Find the side of the joist by probing the joint with a ruler or try square blade and mark across the board with a pencil. Cut with a padsaw or electric jigsaw.

Replacing a board

Boards resting on the centre of a joist can be nailed in place with rectangular-section cut brad nails. Boards cut flush with a joist must be supported by screwing a piece of 25 x 50mm timber batten to the side of the joist, flush with the top. Screw the board to the batten.

Mark the locations of underfloor cables and pipes with a marker pen on the surface of new boards or chipboard.

Lifting a section of chipboard

Chipboard flooring is tongue and grooved. Cut along the groove with a tenon saw or jigsaw if you need to remove a complete panel. To lift smaller sections, cut with a cordless circular saw, floorboard saw or padsaw. Replace sections with extra battens fixed to the sides of the joists for support.

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