Does anyone have any better solutions for dealing with my hardwood floor damage than what I describe below?

Below is a picture of my bathroom floor. Water has apparently damaged it from a toilet leak (caused by a failed wax ring which I am in the process of resealing).

Do I have the best plan for repair? Is there a better solution? (I am a DIY newbie.)

Here's what I'm considering:

  1. Cut out the damaged floor area in the shape of a rectangle roughly the size of the visibly damaged area. In the photo, this appears to be about six planks wide (or 6 x 2.5" = 15"). And roughly double that width in length. So that would be a total cutout area of about 15" x 30".

  2. Use a corded jigsaw to do the above described cutout. I don't currently have a power saw, so this will be my first purchase. I did some research and I'm leaning in the direction of getting a corded jigsaw instead of a circular or mitre saw.

  3. But then what? Should I look to replace the hardwood cutout section with another hardwood section of equal dimensions? If so, how could I make that happen? Or is there a better (perhaps more durable and/or flexible) flooring solution? Or maybe a temporary solution that clears up the immediate problem but leaves the door open to an easy upgrade in the future? (e.g., rubber padding!?)

Am I heading in the right direction? Any thoughts, insights, opinions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Fig. 1. Water damaged floor needs repair/replace.

enter image description here

  • Are those engineered planks? Do you have any of the original product, or a replacement with matching dimensions?
    – isherwood
    Jan 17, 2017 at 16:20
  • @isherwood: I don't know if they are engineered planks. (Would I be able to inspect something to tell?) I do not have any of the original product or a replacement. (I just bought the house and found it in this condition. This is a DIY remodel that I'm also living in.)
    – Mowzer
    Jan 17, 2017 at 16:24
  • Does their cross-section (sides/ends) indicate a single, solid piece of board cut from a tree (showing tree growth rings), or is it more like a plywood (showing horizontal layers), or does it have neither, or both? And I'm referring only to the topmost layer. Jan 17, 2017 at 16:35
  • Right. Find out whether each plank is separate, or if they're in sheets 3-wide. The end joint to the right of the toilet flange (above in the photo) appears to indicate a 3-board engineered plank. You'll be removing some of them, so you may find manufacturer info on the back.
    – isherwood
    Jan 17, 2017 at 16:38
  • @JamesOlson: See the cross-section photos here. Turns out these are more like strips (only 1/8" thick) so it's hard for me to imagine they are "engineered" in any way. But I could be wrong.
    – Mowzer
    Jan 18, 2017 at 7:15

2 Answers 2


Remove the old, rotten wood and replace it with new stuff. This is a very common repair.

I've never seen anybody use a jigsaw to remove hardwood strip flooring before but I'm sure it's been done. There's an Ask This Old House episode or two where they tackle this exact project, google it they're good videos, and Tom uses a drill with a 1" spade bit to remove as much material as possible and then uses a sharp chisel to break the piece of wood in half. This seems like good advice to me.

Once you have one strip of wood removed then the others will be a little easier to remove because the tongue and grove are no longer locked. But some of your strip flooring pieces look very rotten and you might be able to just dig them out of there with a screw driver, chisel, etc.

The last board to be installed will need to have it's groove edge chiseled into a rabbit so that it can drop into place.

Good luck!

Also, if it was me, I wouldn't cut a big rectangular section of the flooring out as you described. I would only remove the pieces that are rotten and replace them with identical pieces of the same dimensions, length and species.


You can't really use a jigsaw for this - it will cut through floor, subfloor, framing members, etc. You could use a circular saw, or drill & chisel.

Given the extent of that water damage, the subfloor may need to be replaced as well, which likely means removing flooring & subfloor back to the floor joists. Do you have access to the bottom of this floor via basement or crawlspace so you can see the full extent of the damage? If it's a finished ceiling underneath that, you likely need to replace the drywall also.

My $0.02 - you might consider stripping the wood floor out of that area entirely and going with linoleum or tile, especially if it's going to be hard to match. I've never been a fan of wood floors in bathrooms for exactly this kind of thing. I actually lived in an apartment for awhile that had carpet in the bathroom ... nasty.

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