We are renovating the hallway floors in my old apartment, and am running into a splintery patch I am not sure how to deal with appropriately. The floor boards are pine, 115 years old, about 30 cm (12") wide, 7m (20+ feet) long. In the middle of the middle board, the board was an unfortunate cut compared to the grain, and is delaminating (?) creating splinters. We still have to see how large an area this is a problem over after further sanding, but it will be at least 60 cm (2 feet), and up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) long, around 5 cm (2") wide. Pictures attached for reference.

hallway floor

closeup of main damage

Replacing the entire board is not really an option for practical reasons (time, cost, finding a matching board, damage to the remaining boards in the process), and replacing an entire section of the boards, coming with two cross cuts, would significantly affect the look of the floor.

I do have some shorter comparable floor boards from the kitchen, and so I was considering putting in a Dutchman patch, maybe even with tapered edges to smoothen the transition between the patch and the board. My main concern is how well such a large patch would hold up over time, with movement of the boards, in particular due to use. Any tips or recommendations on how to approach this? In particular how deep should the patch go for structural reasons? Should I fix it in place with some screws as well? The boards are about 3cm (1 1/8 ") thick, so there is some room in that direction.

I should also mention that we are intending to oil the floors, but could consider PU lacquer if this is a huge practical improvement.

Thanks a lot!

[I am aware that some boards have separated far enough for the tongue to have come out of the groove, but trying to take out the floor and laying it fresh is too much work and would likely damage the other boards too much.]

Edit/update: in the end, taking out and relaying the entire floor was not feasible given time constraints, as well as the likelihood of irreparably damaging the very long boards. We also did not want to affect the look of the overall floor by replacing a section. As usual, this ended up being a rushed job before a hard move-in deadline.

Beyond the particular problem I described, we fastened the boards with extra screws since they were creaking, we patched tongue and groove cracks with strips of new pine since they were too large. After the final sanding stage, the problematic area was still splintering. To "fix" this I glued down any separating bits that were not sticking out, and used pine-colored wood filler to even the edges out, to help prevent further splintering. I then gave it a final sand. The entire floor was finished with Osmo polyx natural, which contains a small amount of white pigment, to closely approximate the look of untreated wood. A year in, we have no issues with splinters (at least in what used to be the most problematic looking area!).

Below I include an image of the original spot, and an image of the overall floor (don't get distracted by the dust etc., haven't cleaned in a while!). In detail the spot certainly does not look perfect, but it is hardly noticeable in the floor over all (and that's coming from me, very aware of the existence of the spot). The pine filler is too light, and often too uniform, but blends in reasonably well given the new pine strips in the grooves. Given more time I might have done things differently, but I am fine with the current result.

Btw, I used scraps to experiment with glue and sawdust mixtures, as well as epoxy. I found glue and sawdust not suitable for a surface treatment like this, because it is difficult to get flat and difficult to sand without it overheating and darkening. Epoxy unavoidably seeps into the wood and darkens it, which is not a look we wanted.

"repaired" spot overall look

  • 1
    Hi, belated welcome to Woodworking. I'm really surprised nobody has added anything here, even a Comment or two. This kind of splintering is very common to aged softwood boards with this unfortunate cut, and possibly all that's needed is a good sanding to reveal fresh wood (since after all when this board was new this wouldn't have been happening). But I can't tell from the photo how much deeper you can sand. The first thing I thought of was simply to consolidate the surface with finish, but you want to use an oil so that's out. Which may leave patching as your only option.
    – Graphus
    Mar 19, 2021 at 10:22
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    "My main concern is how well such a large patch would hold up over time..." TBH I'd be more concerned about the practicalities of making and then installing such a patch rather than how it would age. With modern adhesives (and probably any of them could be used here) and such large long-grain glue surfaces the patch should outlast you. But are you prepared for cutting the recess, esp with the presence of nails to hamper operations? Then you have to accurately shape the patch, get it close to final thickness, glue in, then flush it with the surrounding wood. All that is a pretty tough job.
    – Graphus
    Mar 19, 2021 at 10:29
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    You might get more interest at DIY. SE, as they concentrate more on what is construction practices. There is a bit of overlap with woodworking, but repairing flooring is very much in their wheelhouse.
    – user5572
    Mar 19, 2021 at 13:14
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    Thanks @Graphus and jdv for the comments! I don't think I can sand the issues out all the way, they run too deep for that. However, it is improving as the sanding goes, so I might not need as large a patch as I originally thought. That's fortunate, as I think you're right that such a large patch would be pretty tough.. I any case, I'm giving it a bit more thought, and might give DIY SE as shot as well, thanks!
    – Stijn
    Mar 20, 2021 at 23:07
  • 1
    Any chance of flipping the board over?
    – gnicko
    Mar 23, 2021 at 19:12


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