How to cut floorboards

Updated February 21, 2017

Cutting floorboards requires care and close attention to detail to prevent damage to the floor surface below the boards you are cutting, as well as other materials, such as pipes and electrical wires that may be in the floor below the boards you intend to cut. Using special tools will prevent damage and make floorboard removal less complex.

Consult the building's plans to determine where wires and pipes run through the floor. This will help avoid cutting in areas that have pipes or wiring running underneath. Cut a larger area out, if necessary, to avoid water or fire damage and danger.

Set the circular saw's cutting depth to approximately 1.5 to 3 mm (1/16 to 1/8 inch) greater than the material you wish to cut through. This will allow you to cut completely through the top layer with minimal damage to the underlayment. Avoid cutting around nails and screws as this will dull the saw blade quickly. Cut out the area you wish to remove stopping precisely at your corner marks.

Set the reciprocating saw's cutting length to approximately the same thickness as the boards your are cutting and work the reciprocating saw slowly at the corners around the floorboard area being removed. You can also use a sharp wood chisel to cut and shape out your corners.

Stick a putty knife or thin wedge tool into the crack you just cut in the floorboards. Use the tool to pry the floorboard up off the floor surface underneath. You may need to apply glue solvent to get the floorboard to come up. As the floorboards raise, remove any nails of screws with a hammer or screwdriver.

Cut through the floorboards numerous times to remove the boards in small pieces, if necessary. Cut in one piece if you plan on reusing or replacing the floorboards.


Work slowly and against the grain of the floorboards to prevent the boards from splitting and cracking during cutting. Cut fresh boards with a circular saw, moving the board slowly with sturdy hands to prevent awkward cuts and splits.

Things You'll Need

  • Building plans
  • Reciprocating saw with small square head blade
  • Putty knife or thin wedge tool
  • Glue solvent
  • Hammer or screwdriver
  • Drill and small bit
  • Circular saw
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About the Author

Giselle Diamond is a freelance writer and has been writing since 1999. Diamond is experienced in writing in all genres and subjects, with distinguished experience in home and garden, culture and society, literature and psychology. Diamond has a Master of Arts in English and psychology from New York University. Diamond has articles published on both eHow and LiveStrong.