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 (see below). 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
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 line.
Photo 2: Cut to the corners
Cut from the center section to the drilled hole in each corner-but no farther! Break out the remainder with a chisel.
Photo 3: Remove the bottom lip
Score the tongue several times with a utility knife. Then snap it off with pliers. Shave off any remaining scraps 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 cut pieces.
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
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 remaining glue.
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.
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 mi board and mix it with a putty knife until it begins to dry (Photo 1). 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 (Photo 2).
Required Tools for this Project
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
- 4-in-1 screwdriver
- Circular saw
- Drill bit set
- Drill/driver - cordless
- Putty knife
- Utility knife
- Wood chisel
- Wood glue
Required Materials for this Project
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.
- Cleaning solvent
- Extra flooring
- Laminate floor patching material