Sometimes it’s necessary to inspect below floor level or replace a floorboard. Floorboards can usually be lifted for access to pipes or wires without damaging the surface. Here’s how to lift floorboards safely.
Always ensure that there are no cables or pipes directly under a board you are nailing or cutting. Don’t take any risks. Wear eye protection when hammering or using power tools.
Use a wide-bladed cold chisel or pry bar to gently lever up one side of the board close to the end. Work carefully 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 the 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 at different angles.
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. Some people use multi tools to get through the boards.
How do you Lift 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. Once done, the board can then be removed as above.
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.
How do you replace a floorboard
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.
Lifting floorboards – FAQs and common problems.
How do you lift floorboards without breaking them?
To ensure you successfully lift the floorboards without breaking them, work slowly and take your time. If you rush and prise the board out to quickly you’re more likely to damage it.
What tools do you need to lift floorboards?
The tools you will need depends on the type of boards you’re trying to lift and how many. It’s handy to have the following, either way:
- Wide bladed cold chisel
- Pry bar
- Timber battens (to insert under lifted sections of board)
- Tenon saw
- Rectangular cut brad nails or floorboard screws (for replacing)
Optional tools include:
- Floorboard saw
- Circular saw
If you’re lifting a room full of boards it would be worthwhile investing in a heavy duty demolition/lifting bar such as this one from Roughneck. It makes pulling up a lot of boards much, much easier. When you’re not using it to lift floorboards its also useful for lifting heave objects, positioning slabs, breaking pallets and other demolition work.
How do you lift floorboards under skirting boards?
A cold chisel at one end of the board should be enough to release it before lifting it up high to remove it from under the skirting board.
How do you lift floorboards upstair?
The process of lifting floorboards is the same whether you’re upstairs or downstairs.
What is a floorboard saw?
A floorboard saw is curved at the end to allow you to saw down into the wood, rather than across it. If you need to release a lot of boards by cutting through them it might be worth the investment.