How To Cut Hardwood Flooring That’s Already Installed

While hardwood floor makes for attractive and durable home flooring, sometimes part of your hardwood has to go. To accomplish this, you are wondering how to cut hardwood flooring that has already been installed. Well, in this post, we combine industry professional knowledge and up-to-date research to thoroughly answer your question.

Using a circular saw is the easiest way to cut already installed hardwood flooring. With the right preparation, technique, and blade, this task is a doable DIY project. Generally speaking, follow these steps to cut hardwood flooring with a circular saw:

  1. Determine where you want to cut your flooring
  2. Clearly mark a straight line
  3. Score the line with a utility knife
  4. Set the saw depth
  5. Carefully and slowly cut along the line
  6. Use a flush-cut saw or handsaw to finish cut near walls and/or obstructions
  7. Remove unwanted hardwood flooring

Keep reading the rest of this post for details on the above steps. This guide includes everything you need to know to cut your hardwood floor at home. In addition, we answer several questions related to the topic of this post.

A man cutting a small hardwood floor, How To Cut Hardwood Flooring That's Already Installed

What do you use to cut hardwood floors?

These directions are for using a circular saw to cut hardwood floors. This technique is the most practical and popular for this job.

Click here for a circular saw on Amazon.

1. Determine where you want to cut your flooring

First, you need to determine exactly where you want to cut your existing hardwood floor. Take your time with this decision; it is very difficult to change your mind after making even a small cut!

When deciding where to cut your hardwood floors, keep in mind room use, the reason for the remodel, and obstructions in the room such as walls and door stops. Remember the carpenter's creed - measure twice and cut once.

2. Clearly mark a straight line

Now that you have chosen where to cut your hardwood flooring, it is time to mark your line. The main techniques are to use a pencil with a straightedge or a chalk line to accomplish this.

Click here for a tried and true tape measure on Amazon.

First, you want to make several pencil marks at a carefully measured distance. Sometimes, this is from a wall or the old end of your flooring. Either way, it is easiest to use a tape measure that either butts up against or hooks onto a consistent adjacent line. This way, the line you are about to draw will be parallel to existing home construction.

At the prescribed distance, make several crows-feet marks with a pencil. Now, using either a straight edge like a level or framing square, carefully connect the marks so you have a straight, continuous line.

Click here for a chalkline and chalk on Amazon.

Alternatively, you can use a chalk line, as exhibited in the video below. You can either hook the edge of the line around a fastener, as shown in the video, or hook the edge of hardwood. If you do need to hammer or drill a fastener into the hardwood, be careful that it only marks the part of the hardwood you plan on removing.

3. Score the line with a utility knife

One of the dangers of using power saws is that the high torque and speed of these tools often cause wood to splinter beyond the cut location. That is to say, the part of your flooring that you plan on keeping may become chipped.

Click here for utility knives on Amazon.

To help avoid this, take a utility knife and cut carefully along the edge of your line on the hardwood side that will remain after you make your cut. By making this score, you are encouraging the hardwood floor material to only chip to the premade cut.

When you eventually push your saw along your line, you want the edge of the blade to run just along or just inside the utility knife cut. If you saw through the line or on the wrong side of the line, this step makes no difference.

4. Set the saw depth

Circular saws have mechanisms to change how far the blade sticks out below the flat guard. Generally, this allows you to cut at any depth from three inches to zero inches. Since our goal is to only cut the hardwood floor and not to cut the subfloor, this is a very important step.

If the subfloor is wood, as is common, simply set the blade so it goes exactly the depth of the hardwood or even just a tiny bit deeper. This allows you to cut all the way through the hardwood in one go.

On the other hand, if the subfloor is concrete or other material that will ruin your saw blade, set the depth about 1/32 to 1/16 of an inch less than the depth of the hardwood. This is essential for making a clean cut, even though it does require a bit more work in a later step.

What is the best saw blade to cut hardwood flooring?

Click here for a finish circular saw blade on Amazon.

The best saw blade to use for hardwood flooring is a wood-specific finish blade. Take your circular saw into a hardware store to ensure that you buy the right blade for the job and for your saw. Finish blades and wood blades will both produce cleaner cuts in wood than other blade types.

5. Carefully and slowly cut along the line

Now comes the real meat of this project, cutting the hardwood with the circular saw. If you have little or no experience using a circular saw, this cut will be difficult to make cleanly. However, it is possible to make a clean, even line.

If the cut you are making is against a wall or other obstruction - you will need to carefully plunge the running saw into the hardwood at the proper location. Here is a video that outlines this technique:

How do you cut straight lines in hardwood floors?

The easiest way to cut a straight line is to use some sort of guide to direct the saw blade. Given the situation, nailing a piece of scrap lumber to the side of the hardwood you are going to remove is an excellent option.

An up close photo of a circular saw used in cutting wood

Since the saw's guard edge, known as a shoe, is a consistent distance from the blade, you can run that edge along your scrap board to cut a perfectly straight line. Further, since that hardwood side is waste anyways - there is no harm in nailing a board into the surface.

To prep for the board, measure and mark a line as recommended above in step two. Ensure that this line is the correct distance from where you want your blade to cut. Verify this by holding a tape measure up to your saw.

Alternatively, you can freehand the cut and, with practice and patience, cut a very straight line. In some instances, you can also use a guide that you run along the hardwood edge to help you cut a straight line.

6. Use an electric or manual flush-cut saw to finish cut near walls and/or obstructions

Now that you have made the cut with a circular saw, there might still be some cutting left to do. Since the shoe of the circular saw obstructs the blade from cutting all the way up against walls and cabinets, you may need to finish the cut with a different type of saw.

Click here for an electric flush-cut saw on Amazon.

Options for finishing the cut include flush-cut electric and manual saws. Electric flush-cut saws are very efficient multitools and are easy to use, while manual flush-cut saws are cheaper and take a little more finesse.

Click here for a manual flush-cut saw on Amazon.

For an electric flush-cut saw, just guide the blade along your drawn line until you finish your cut. Be careful not to hit concrete or nails with these fragile blades. For flush-cut handsaws, slowly start the cut along the line. Then, using a typical sawing motion, finish your cut.

7. Remove unwanted hardwood flooring

If you were able to set your blade to the depth of the hardwood or a little deeper, this step is relatively straightforward. However, if you set your blade shallow in order to account for the concrete subfloor, there is still a small amount of cutting to do.

Click here for a flat pry bar on Amazon.

Simply take a chisel (preferably old or masonry) and a hammer, and cut along the rest of the hardwood. Depending on the hardwood type, it may even break along the cut without the chiseling as you remove it from the ground.

Often, hardwood flooring is glued to the ground - so even after you make the cut, you will need to use a pry bar and a hammer to remove the unwanted hardwood flooring.

A note on safety

Circular saws are dangerous and should only be operated with the proper ear and eye protection. Further, if you feel unsafe or unable to accomplish this task, do not hesitate to call a professional in for the job.

Can you cut out hardwood flooring?

As described in the directions above, you can cut out hardwood flooring using careful technique and a circular saw.

Can you replace one plank of hardwood floors?

Yes, it is possible to replace one plank of hardwood floors. First, remove the old piece of flooring. Accomplish this by drilling holes into the corners and throughout, and then splitting the board with a chisel or other tool.

Once the board in question is split up, it becomes much easier to remove. Then you can place a hardwood board in the hole to match. If these brief directions are unclear, consider doing additional research and/or watching this video:

In Closing

In this post, we covered how to cut hardwood flooring. We include a guide to the most practical and commonly used technique for achieving this task. To conclude, we answered a few related questions. Good luck!

To learn more from Uooz on hardwood floors, read these great articles:

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